Colin Hogg on best album cover book of all time
The greatest fan of Steve Brownias has always seemed to be, Bronyas himself has long presented an odd side to the talented and challenging 61-year-old. His brand of charming but impudent self-reinforcement is an intriguing approach to a natural gift and speaks more about the subject’s doubts than his talents, which, in Braunias’ case, are large and attractive.
As shown in his latest book, where he did something remarkable that clicks on one of the other interesting things about him, his love for the unloved, the unflattering, sometimes downright horrific. For him, heaven is the sad mall in a tumultuous suburb. This is where he found his inspiration story cover (Oratia, $50), LP-sized book dedicated to the golden age of New Zealand album covers.
He bought his first box of old Kiwi LPs at a secondhand Salvation Army store, only to start a habit that saw him collect a mountain of semi-forgotten vinyl, realizing in the process that he had culturally significant work on his hands. Subsequently story cover.
It’s a good idea, I wish I had had it myself, but I’d be totally wrong on the job, and have a fatal weakness for brilliance—something that seemed entirely absent from the Kiwi music scene in the ’50s and ’60s, according to the often-gasp-inducing evidence and presented in story cover. Things got a little better in the ’80s, but that’s the least fun part of the story in some ways.
The book reveals the 30-year lifespan of the New Zealand recording industry (if that’s the right word), beginning in 1957 with the country’s first domestically recorded and pressed long player, South Sea Rhythm Written by Bill Wolfgram and His Islanders with Daphne Walker. Her mysterious cover shot was hastily captured in the tall grass and ferns at Grafton Jolly and it shows.
Braunas’ writings, in written preface and separate essays with many covers, are often fascinating and brought to life colorfully through encounters with the artists themselves or elderly eyewitnesses.
He put his politics on the line in his opening pages: “John Dix’s essential history of early New Zealand music, Stranded in Heaven, reads like a holy war waged by the forces of good (rock and roll) against a dark enemy (squares, with their accordions, balloons, and string arrangements); story cover sides with squares. They had more fun.”
Sometimes it looks like they did, though a little ugly, especially pianist Jack Thompson, Gore’s ivory pianist with an old bruised look, described by the author as “a lovable kiwi joker who made life in New Zealand a better and happier place on Friday nights.” and sabbaths in countless homes as his drums were rolled out of their merry sleeves and loudly played for fathers across the country to dance for an hour after liquor and then an hour straight drunk.”
Possibly my favorite of the 100 sleeves, mockup view through story cover, He is Jack Thompson meets Garth Young From 1968, with Thompson (piano) and Young (Organ Hammond) facing each other on their keyboards, lip dangling fags, loose ties, both well-oiled with looks.
Recordings of the “golden years” captured here are mostly drawn from the bleak realities of Kiwi for choirs, dancers, brass bands, Polynesian party music, famous pub artists (such as Jack and Garth), and country music of Western variety. Things have come close to getting flashy even later.
Many of the previous cover photos were rejected as postcards, but it was often an afterthought in those days. Some are out of focus. Some – like Peter Buza white rabbit Movie LP featuring the artist sniffing at the bunny girl’s bent back – his time is up.
The period magic arrives with the late 1960s and 1970s and the advent of local rock bands. Powerful Underdogs Blues Band pulling up Carnaby Street stands at the fire exit at Invercargill’s Civic Theater for their debut album is a classic. The album is great too and one of the few story cover You want to play without some kind of anesthesia.
But that is not the point of this beautiful and disturbing book. The more terrible the cover, the better the story Brownias tells.
Later, things turned glamorous and even artistic, thanks to the work of photographers such as Philip Peacock (Dave McCartney), Jane Usher (Sharon O’Neill), Murray Kamick (Street Talk) and artists such as Joe Wylie, who is an exceptional center of Bhatia Maori club then i, is given a penny folded in the book.
They are a nice bunch, about 12 inches by 12 inches, with a smooth, shiny back and strong, weighing a kilogram or so. It will take a lot of Christmas paper to wrap it up, but it will be successful, believe me. You shouldn’t dare to play some of these recordings, but it’s nice to be in this vinyl-free format.
Indeed, it requires the second volume, especially since this one is titled “Volume One”.
Cover Story: 100 Beautiful, Weird, and Downright Stunning New Zealand LP Covers By Steve Braunias (Oratia Media, $50), available in bookstores across the country.