Musos, anarchists, poets, feminists, artists and activists: a look at the Hocken zines collection

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Emma Scott, Library Assistant – Periodicals

Tucked away within our publications collection are approximately 149 zines spanning from the 1970s to the present day. For those of you who haven’t come across a zine before, zines are self published publications that are on a variety of different topics. Many of the zines in our collection were created by cutting and pasting text, images, photographs and drawings and sticking them on master sheets which are then photocopied and put together as a zine. Creating a zine is a labour of love as they take a substantial amount of time and effort to produce and the funds involved in the making of a zine are seldom recuperated.

Caveat Emptor An Anarchist Fanzine issue 2 (1998) pages 5-6

Caveat Emptor An Anarchist Fanzine issue 2 (1998) pages 5-6

Looking through the list of zines in our collection it is surprising to discover just how varied zines can be. The zines most people are familiar with are the punk rock and rock music zines. While we do have plenty of those, we also have zines on many other subjects including: feminism, government resistance, art, death, horror tales, poetry, science fiction poetry, erotic poetry, sexual harassment of women, anarchism, human rights, paper dolls, New Zealand literature, colonisation and politics just to name a few. Some zines cover multiple topics as they have many contributors.

PMt issue 2 ([1986]) cover

PMt issue 2 ([1986]) cover

Zines can be difficult to catalogue as they are often missing title and date information. Zines also differ greatly in size and format, becoming an artwork in themselves. Fortunately we are able to call upon the services of the University of Otago Library Bindery who can create customised acid free enclosures for these items.

A zine a day as winter goes away covers of 2011 July 3, 7, 10 and 20

A zine a day as winter goes away covers of 2011 July 3, 7, 10 and 20

With May being New Zealand Music Month, it is worth bringing attention to an excellent zine in our collection called Ha Ha Ha: from the city that offers nothing. Ha Ha Ha is a Hamilton music zine that started in 1983, it isn’t focused entirely on Hamilton music, it includes information about bands from all over New Zealand. Issue no.5  features an interview with Bruce Russell from the Dunedin Expressway label called “Expressway to your skull” and includes reviews of Vehicle – The Clean, Sour – S.P.U.D. and Bunny liver – Sferic Experiment all of which we hold in our music collection. If you are a punk fan issue 4 might interest you with an article on New Zealand punk from 1977 – 1982 which includes a list of albums and singles worth listening to and a brief description of each band mentioned.

Ha Ha Ha issue no.5 cover

Ha Ha Ha issue no.5 cover

Another New Zealand zine of particular interest is : Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People by Bryce Galloway.  Issue no.15,  The Fear of Fatherhood Issue is an excellent read as Bryce recounts his experience of the ante-natal classes that he is attending with his “de-facto wife”. He prepares his readers for the change of tone: “If you’re a regular visitor to Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, you will have noticed by now, the consolidation of an autobiographical style. So, babies. This is the big thing in my life at present, so I gotta go there, as unhip as that makes me”. His writing is honest and refreshing as he describes a class where the midwife is describing the birthing process: “Images less sterile than statistical data are crowding my head, I fold my arms, I cross my legs. I think about fainting and I’m not sure whether it is because I believe I’m prone, or because I truly am being overcome by these sideways images of birthing”.

Incredibly hot sex with hideous people no.15 (2003 Spring) cover

Incredibly hot sex with hideous people no.15 (2003 Spring) cover

By being self published, zines provide us with uncensored and often quite personal insights into peoples experiences, events, and lifestyles. All of us have something that we are interested in and or are passionate about, but not all of us go to the effort of creating our own publication. We hope that zines continue to be created as they provide us with invaluable information about the history and culture of this country.

If you are interested in finding out more about New Zealand zines, it is well worth checking out an excellent blog called the New Zealand Zine Review:  http://www.newzealandzinereview.org.nz/. Some of the zines featured in the blog are held in our collection if you would like to have a look at them in the flesh.

Do you create a zine yourself, or perhaps you have a zine you would like to donate? In which case we would love to hear from you as we are always interested in expanding our collection of zines. You can send us an email at serials.hocken@otago.ac.nz or phone us on 03 479 4372.

References:

AudioCulture – the noisy library of NZ music. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://www.audioculture.co.nz/

Caveat Emptor: An Anarchist Fanzine, (2), 5-6. (1988)

Galloway, B. (2003). Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, (15), 1-18.

Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People – Bryce Galloway | Culture | Critic.co.nz. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://www.critic.co.nz/culture/article/1501/incredibly-hot-sex-with-hideous-people—bryce-gal

New Zealand Zine Review. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://www.newzealandzinereview.org.nz/

PMt, (2), 1-23. (1986?).

  1. (2011). ‘a Zine a Day as Winter Goes Away’

S, A. (n.d.). Ha Ha Ha: From the City That Offers Nothing, (4), 8-19.

S, A. (n.d.). Ha Ha Ha: From the City That Offers Nothing, (5), 9-12.

Zine. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zine

Zines. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from http://www.wcl.govt.nz/popular/zines.html

 

Unforgettable. In every way.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and Audio Visual

In Hocken’s 78rpm disc collection there is an anomaly: over 100 American pop standards by US artists. For a collection of New Zealand material, this is a significant exception to our collection development policy, and more than just an example of a popular genre. There is little to explain why these discs are in the music collection, but our records state they were donated by Mr Grant Fleury in the late 1990s, and were (according to staff recollection) part of an estate collection.

So, why would a collection of New Zealand material include these items? One potential reason for keeping these discs, is that they are all NZ pressings of international labels, including Columbia Records, Decca Records, His Masters Voice, and Capitol Records. However, there are between 50 and 100 of these recordings, so this collection is more than just an example of local label pressings. Some of the titles are jazz, pop, and rock’n’roll classics that shaped popular music in the 20th Century, coming at the end of the 78rpm era. Titles include:

Ella Fitzgerald: Happy Talk. A track from the very popular musical “South Pacific”, Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra in 1950, and this led to them recording an album soon after.

photo 2 78

Fats Domino, Blueberry Hill

Fats Domino: Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame. Both are significant rock ‘n’ roll classics – Domino’s 1956 recording of Blueberry Hill became the standard version of the song, while his 1955 recording of Ain’t That a Shame gained US  fame after being re-recorded by Pat Boone. However, Domino’s version became more popular.

photo 1 78

Fats Domino, Ain’t That A Shame

Nat King Cole: Unforgettable b/w Mona Lisa. Unforgettable was recorded in 1951, with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and with Riddle’s arrangement. Cole remade it in 1956, and it was remade again  in the 1990s as a beyond-the-grave duet with his daughter Natalie. It is backed with an equally popular song, Mona Lisa, which won the 1950 Academy Award for best original song from the film “Captain Carey.”

photo 3 78

Nat King Cole, Mona Lisa

Having these recordings in the collection presents a conundrum – are they a one off exception to the collection development policy of collecting material by New Zealand artists? Or, was there a valid reason for adding international music into the 78rpm disc collection, when there was no apparent local link in terms of composer, or performer?  They are an interesting addition to the collections of early popular music, and their influence is felt widely throughout local New Zealand music of the same time.

The Dunedin Sound?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | 8 Comments

Post by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and Audio-Visual

Dunedin Sound cabinet 2

The Dunedin Sound is a phrase used widely to describe a particular sound in independent music (most often on the Flying Nun label) that emerged from Dunedin in the 1980s. Currently, there are a number of people who claim ownership of the phrase ‘Dunedin Sound’, but it is commonly attributed to The Clean’s guitarist, David Kilgour, who uttered it in an interview. The phrase is contentious: many people deny there was ever such a thing as the ‘Dunedin Sound’, while others are adamant it existed. However, it is a convenient term to use when describing local bands from that era, in particular The Chills, The Clean, The Verlaines, The Bats, Look Blue Go Purple, and Sneaky Feelings – all bands that used (to a greater or lesser degree) an underlying  drone, or a jangly guitar in their sound. Dr. Graeme Downes (guitarist, vocalist and songwriter with The Verlaines) argues that there is a ‘Dunedin Sound’, found in the songs themselves, within structural and compositional commonalities. Other factors fit too: isolation, the weather, and finding that their diverse inspirations all filtered through a similar mindset. The right time, and, crucially, the right place.

It has been argued the ‘Dunedin Sound’ began with The Clean’s Boodle Boodle Boodle EP (which was very popular, selling over 10,000 copies, and attaining the no. 4 place in the charts), and then continued with The Chills, the Stones, The Verlaines, and Sneaky Feelings (a.k.a The Dunedin Double), which is still a benchmark for local independent music – compilations such as Wellington’s Four Stars, and last year’s Fishrider Records compilation Temporary were heavily compared to it.

Dunedin Sound posters

The Hocken’s collections are rich in material from this music sub-genre, spread throughout our different collections – Posters and Ephemera include treasures such as one-off gig posters, such as these by the Magick Heads and Look Blue Go Purple, and invites to parties where the bands played; Garage, Hahaha, and Kahoutek zines all feature in-depth interviews with the musicians. Within the archives, a copy of Martin Phillipps’ recent oral history with Helen Frizzell resides, and the Xpressway papers are a mine of information about releases and careers of local musicians signed to the label (many formerly on Flying Nun). The accompanying Xpressway cassette collection was transferred to the published music collections, and these tapes include rare, and early, live recordings of bands and solo artists. There is research too – theses by Craig Robertson and Sian O’Gorman provide information on the bands and the music, as well as the creative scenes surrounding the musicians. Our publications hold books on New Zealand music that include the local scenes and profile the artists, and our music clippings files cover not only ‘Dunedin Sound’ bands and artists, but also the wider Dunedin music scenes and genres. The recorded music collection is richest in terms of the core of the ’Dunedin Sound’ – the actual recordings. We hold some of the hardest-to-find music releases because we collected them at the time of release, and, thus, have a collection deep in content. While not 100% comprehensive, original recordings and reissues are constantly being added to the collection – many new items purchased recently have been reissues. In addition, as part of the Audioculture function held at here on May 14th this year, we were generously gifted the original design for the initial Flying Nun logo (a one-eyed cherub holding an LP), a significant addition.

Dunedin Sound cabinet

 

Music is subjective: here are my 10 favourite ‘Dunedin Sound’ recordings in the Hocken’s music collections, between 1981 and 1996. How many of these do you know?

  • ‘The Dunedin Double’ EP (The Chills, The Verlaines, The Stones, Sneaky Feelings)
  • ‘Boodle Boodle Boodle’ EP (The Clean)
  • ‘Life in One Chord’ EP (Straitjacket Fits)
  • ‘Death and the Maiden’ single (The Verlaines)
  • ‘Pink Frost’ single (The Chills)
  • ‘Outer Space single’ (The 3Ds)
  • ‘Bewitched’ EP (Look Blue Go Purple)
  • ‘Snapper’ EP (Snapper)
  • ‘Randolph’s Going Home’ single (Shayne Carter and Peter Jeffries)
  • ‘A Timeless Piece’ EP (The Rip)

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that many of these bands and artists are still making records:  new Chills and Verlaines’ albums are coming, Shayne Carter has a new solo album out this year, and The Clean and The Bats have toured locally and internationally recently.

 

Good things come in small packages…

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post by Debbie Gale, Arrangement and Description Archivist

I have recently returned to work from a year’s parental leave and while I am very pleased to be back, my mind is still often occupied by all things ‘baby’.

During one of my more recent 4am night feeds, I thought now would be the perfect time to take inspiration from this maternal period in my life to focus on the ‘wee ones’  whose care I am partly responsible for in my professional life.  Those ‘littlies’ in the archives that may be small, but are also perfectly formed.

Our “octavo” sequence of archives is broad in range, and runs to a full 90 linear metres in length.  It includes personal volumes such as diaries, reminiscences, letter books, notebooks and bibles, as well as records of organisations such as minute books and ledgers.  Many of the volumes are in a very fragile state and have preservation copies so that researchers can have access to them, without further harming the original.

Octavo is a book binding term that refers to small volumes which were originally made by folding a full sheet of paper three times to make eight leaves, each leaf being 1/8 the size of the original sheet of paper. In practice such volumes are roughly 8-10 inches in height.

IMG_1319

Our octavo archives shelving

 

 

 

 

However, our diminutive friends are not just to be found within the octavo sequence alone – they will often be found dotted throughout the collections in various guises, from the tiny appointment books of poet, editor and Hocken benefactor Charles Brasch through to the miniature soldier’s diaries that have miraculously survived through rough war conditions.

This blog takes a look into just a few of the more significant of these babies, safely ‘swaddled’ within their phase boxes for maximum care and protection.

Misc-MS-1451_1_cover

Diary of surveyor John Wallis Barnicoat, kept during a voyage from England to New Zealand in the ‘Lord Auckland’, 1841-1842. Misc-MS-1451/001.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misc-MS-1451_1

The diary includes pen illustrations of the ‘Lord Auckland’, detailed life aboard ship and diagrams of the ship’s accommodation and deck layout. Misc-MS-1451/001.

 

 

 

 

Misc-MS-1451_3

In March 1844 Barnicoat was employed to assist Frederick Tuckett in selecting a site for the future Otago settlement. This beautifully sketched map shows ‘The route from Molineux [sic] to Otago’. Misc-MS-1451/003.

The corresponding diary entries (written in pencil on the sketch page and partly transcribed below) relate to the purchasing of the Otago Block.

‘S. June 15: …This [sketch] shews to what extent it is proposed to effect purchases from the natives for the purpose of the New Settlement.’

‘Th. June 20: Tuawaike, Karetai & Taiaroa signed a memorandum binding them to sell the whole country from Otago to Molineux as shewn in the sketch…with a single reserve for the sum of £2400.’

MS-0037_cover

This volume of handwritten notes on New Zealand and Otago history and people, is part of the original ‘nucleus’ collection of Dr Hocken, and is dated around 1892. MS-0037.

 

 

 

MS-0037_te kooti name

One of Dr Hocken’s entries on the origin of Rongowhakaata leader, military leader and prophet Te Kooti’s name – a transliteration of Coates, the name he received in baptism.  MS-0037.

 

MS-0123

MS-0484/001.First volume of reminiscences, began in 1916, of Civil and Mechanical Engineer Edward Roberts (1851-1925). It spans his upbringing on the Bendigo Goldfields of Victoria, his arrival in Dunedin in 1881 and engineering career. There are some excellent ink sketches and an interesting account of the Dunedin and Kaikorai Tram Company in 1894. MS-0484/001.

 

 

MS-0123_cover

I will finish with this interestingly titled volume from Rev. James West Stack (1835-1919), the oldest son of missionary James Stack. It consists of handwritten anecdotes and reminiscences drawn from a period of more than forty years, many relating to Stack’s experiences among Maori.  MS-0123.

MS-0484_001

MS-0123

The musical heritage of war.

Quote

wait till the clouds go by (2)Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian Music and Audio Visual

Music touches our lives in many ways, and often stays with communities and individuals for decades, even centuries after it was first written.  Sadly, this is not often the case with music written for, and around, The Great War of 1914-1918 (WWI). While British songs like “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” are still used frequently in film and television, and are in the public consciousness, many songs (both international and closer to home) have been forgotten. NZ written songs like “Call of the Southern Men”, “Haere Tonu” and “Thoughts” have disappeared from public and individual knowledge, but we are lucky sheet music has survived in collections both private and institutional. The Hocken Collections’ interesting WWI music sheets have been recently used for research, and are another way to view the narrative of war.

 

Many of the titles have been digitised, and are available to view and from Otago University’s OUR Heritage site http://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/collections/show/60. More will be added in due course.

We have very little contextual information around some of these songs. Papers Past gives some information about the songs’ background and early performances. Some composer/lyricist information can sometimes be gleaned from military records if they served in the military. For example, the lyrics of Hampton Wood’s (H.W. Taman) “Keep On Keepin’ On”, subtitled “John Bull’s Advice for Those Who Can’t Go to the Front” suggest ways to help the war effort other than enlisting. Proceeds from sales went to the War Relief Fund, and the Prime Minister (William Massey) expressed the Government’s gratitude.

March of the Anzacs

Known as ‘The ‘March King of the Antipodes’, Alex Lithgow wrote “March of the ANZACs”. Lithgow was born in Scotland, lived in Launceston, Australia, but spent about 20 years in New Zealand, primarily in Invercargill. “March of the Anzacs” was an upbeat, sprightly march, no doubt intending to inspire a patriotic swell of pride in the hearts of all who heard it. The lithographed cover illustrates the troops landing at Kabatepe (although the actual landing occurred further north at Ari Burnu), and presents an early image of the ANZAC troops.

Haere Tonu (2)

Another treasure is “Haere Tonu: Maori War Song” by R.A. Horne and Ernest Hoben. The Press quoted the Christchurch Star’s view that the composition had caught the “true spirit and atmosphere of the haka”. The composer was the store manager of The Bristol Piano Company in Christchurch, and his advertisement prompted residents to call in to the store, where the song would be played for them. The lyrics (in both English and Maori) inspire patriotism, and encourage enlisting in the Expeditionary Forces, and looked to past Maori wars, as well as the current world war. “Haere Tonu” also had resurgence in the Second World War, associated with the 28th Maori Battalion.

Thoughts (2)“Thoughts: Dedicated to all who whose loved one have suffered in the war” by R.S Black, and A.H. Banwell was published in 1919, and is the opposite of the optimistic, militaristic, patriotic attitude that most WWI music presented. Banwell was a returning soldier, who served as Lance Corporal in Gallipoli, and Sergeant in Cairo, before being discharged in August 1915, diagnosed with neurasthenia. He returned to New Zealand and deserted from Trentham in 1918, and was court marshalled in 1920.The lyrics by Black were possibly influenced by Banwell’s wartime experiences. “Thoughts” is very bleak in tone, presenting a darker view of life in the midst of war.

When memory’s merely a tragedy sad

And life a “procession of years”…

Then naught seems left to the sore-stricken soul

But a bed in the cold, cold ground

The proceeds of the sale of Thoughts went to the Returned Soldiers Club in Dunedin.

 

Australian and British WWI-related sheet music also feature in collections. One Australian war song in particular is directed at women. “Mother of Men: Dedicated to the Mothers of the men of the Expeditionary Forces” by Tom Armstrong was straightforward in message, the song leaning heavily on the image of the soldier’s close relationship with his mother. Similarly, the British “Somewhere in France, Dear Mother”, written in 1915 by Arthur Leclerq and Jack O’Connor was another wartime song that gained longevity. A patriotic song designed to rally the masses, the song highlighted sentimentality and national pride, again focussing on maternal pride and love.

A mother in tears it’s the first time she hears

From her boy who is fighting in the war

Still full of pride she dries her eye

And soon forgets her pain

 

Your king and country want you (2)Another British song from the era that addresses women in a non-romanticised way is 1914’s “Your King and Country Want you: A Woman’s Recruiting Song” by Paul A. Rubens. This was a successful attempt to persuade more men to enlist for war, from the voice of a proud woman. Vocalist Vestra Tilley would perform the song at recruitment rallies, and men who failed to enlist at the end of the rally were given white feathers, symbolising cowardice, by children especially chosen for the task. Profits from the sale of 1914’s “Your King and Country Want You” went to Queen Mary’s Work for Women fund.

 

Amanda Mills

A Kiwi Christmas playlist

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – AV and Music

Hocken Christmas music

Have you ever heard of the New Zealand Christmas classic “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Pat McMinn and the Combie Murdoch Trio? No? How about Pixie Williams singing “Best Wishes”?  These are only two of the many New Zealand Christmas classic tracks waiting in the Hocken stacks to be rediscovered. The recorded Christmas music that the Hocken has dates from the late 1940s with the Pixie Williams disc, though the 1960s to the 1980s featured many recordings popular at the time, but now faded into obscurity. These include

  •  Chic Littlewood’s “Let’s make everyday Christmas”
  • The Dallas Four’s “White Christmas”
  • Hauraki Good Guys with Salty Dog “Please daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas”
  • Various Artists Still hooked on Christmas

However, many recordings have remained in the public consciousness, with arguably the most well-known being Kingi Ihaka’s “Pukeko in a ponga tree”.  Along with Billy T. James’ “When a child is born”, Julie Nelson and The Don Ball Orchestra’s “Sticky Beak the kiwi” is still incredibly popular. “Sticky Beak the kiwi” was written specifically by Gisbourne-based folk singer Bob Edwards and lyricist Neil Roberts for children in 1961. 14-year old Julie Nelson sang the song, backed by the Whanganui dance band, the Don Ball Orchestra. The song became a hit.

Sticky beak the kiwi

Well known bands like the Avengers in the 1960s, and Split Enz in the 1980s, recorded Christmas messages for their fan clubs, in a similar vein to the Christmas fan club recordings released by The Beatles. Billy T. James released “A Maori Christmas” for Radio Hauraki, while Fred Dagg released the infamous short track “Star of wonder”. These tracks were among the local songs gathered together in the 2012 Christmas-themed CD Pohutakawas & pavlova.

Along with Wing’s two albums of Christmas music (Everyone sing carols with Wing, and Carols, rap and sing: A beautiful Christmas), another Christmas-themed holding we have is Wendyhouse’s The Wendyhouse Christmas album, which has alternative (and often subversive) Christmas tracks such as “Teddy’s anger”, and “Here comes the family”.

Our sheet music holdings have some interesting items too – “The song of Bethlehem (A New Zealand Christmas carol)” from 1942 by Muriel Hunt and Joye Taylor is a short piece that centres on the seasonal features of the New Zealand Christmas. “Dear Santa Claus” in contrast (written in the UK in 1948 by Gerry Mason, and published locally by Beggs), is more traditional in theme, focussing on a child’s letter asking Santa Claus to not forget him.

Finally, one very interesting holding we have is particularly close to the Hocken Collections:  the Hocken end of year function from 1987, featuring the recorder skills of Ken Booth. This cassette is definitely one for the digitisation list!

Hocken Cassette

Celebrating audiovisual heritage

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Audiovisual and Music

Broken disc Hocken Collections

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is held annually on October 27th to raise awareness of collections of audiovisual objects around the world in various institutions. While this celebratory day has passed, it is always advantageous to draw attention to the importance of audiovisual collections and to their fragility.

It is worth remembering that audiovisual materials are very important primary records of the 20th and 21st century. Countless major historical moments of the last 100 years have been captured in film, or on sound recordings. Many of these recordings are now iconic, for example footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Edison blue amberol cylinder. Hocken Collections; uncatalogued.

However, much audiovisual material has been lost, or is in danger of disappearing. Purposeful destruction, decay and obsolescence of format, and neglect are some of the factors that contribute to much of this cultural loss. The theme for the 2014 World Audiovisual Heritage Day was “Archives at risk: Much more to do”. Audiovisual collections are often at risk because of the inherent fragility of the materials used : all audiovisual heritage is endangered.

Damaged shellac 78rpm disc.

In New Zealand,audiovisual collections are held in many institutions, including the Hocken Collections, and the Alexander Turnbull Library. Preservation programmes are undertaken to ensure the survival of these precious items, though often these are hampered by lack of resources. Audiovisual digitisation and preservation is highly skilled and labour intensive work. But the collections that are in the care of institutions, archives and libraries are highly valued and we do our best. Apart from preserving sound and images for the future digitisation can improve access to AV collections. Many people know of their existence, but often not the depth of the collections. Making digital copies available online brings them to a new audience.Broken disc Hocken Collections

The Hocken Collections has many different formats of audiovisual material. Formats such as cylinder, open reel tape (ORT), and 16mm film are challenging to for us to digitise, as suitable equipment is often difficult to source. Film reels are a precious source of historical content and information, and we have very pleased to have preserved the Hocken’s motion picture films with the help of the local Film Heritage Trust. A sound format that presents interesting preservation issues is the 16” transcription disc – turntables need be larger than usual and require a longer tonearm to accommodate the disc size. Rare and unique material is part of the Hocken’s collection, and we are currently building our capacity to care for this material using the highest standards and best practice.

The images presented here include three broken 78rpm discs that we have in our collections, though they have been removed from circulation! The was cylinder is not broken. They are all extremely fragile, and care is required in handling them. This is only one example of how delicately balanced the preservation of audiovisual material can be, and how vulnerable the content and the carrier (formats) are.

Johnny Tahu Cooper, QSM, (1929-2014)

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 6 Comments

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and AV

Johnny Cooper (the ‘Maori Cowboy’) was a local rock’n’roll hero.

Cooper grew up on a Te Reinga farm in the 1930s, becoming a fan of Gene Autry during his childhood. While living with his aunt and uncle, he listened to their 78rpm disc collection, his favourites being Autry, Tex Morton, and Wilf Carter. Cooper learnt to play the ukulele along with the records, soon performing to shearing gangs.

After gaining a scholarship and attending Te Aute College for two years, he went to Wellington and found work as a gravedigger. Not long after, he formed a country and western band with Will Lloyd-Jones on slap bass, Ron James on piano accordion, Don Aldridge on steel guitar, and later, Jim Gatfield on guitar. They called themselves Johnny Cooper and the Range Riders.

 

Johnny Cooper Rock and Sing

Rock and Sing With Johnny Cooper and his Range Riders. His Masters Voice, 1956. Hocken Sound Recordings. HRec-M 697

The band entered talent competitions, coming first in the talent quest at Wellington’s Paramount Theatre, winning £20, and an audition with HMV. In 1954 Cooper went to Korea to entertain the New Zealand troops, and on returning, HMV asked the band to record with the label. This resulted in their first hit, a duet with Margaret Francis of a cover of One by One, backed with Cooper’s own song Look What You’ve Done – a song that found another life 40 years later when it featured in ‘Once Were Warriors’. HMV then approached Cooper about recording a new genre: rock’n’roll. HMV were keen for Cooper to cover Bill Haley and the Comet’s smash Rock Around the Clock, though Cooper was sceptical, and didn’t really like the genre. However, he recorded it (and the b-side Blackberry Boogie), and it became a hit. Interestingly, Cooper’s version was released locally before Bill Haley’s version.

In 1956, HMV released its first New Zealand rock album, ‘Rock and Sing with Johnny Cooper’, a 10” compilation that placed his country recordings with Rock Around the Clock, and Blackberry Boogie. Cooper also released a second rock’n’roll cover by Haley – See You Later Alligator in 1956 (this time on 45prm as well as 78rpm disc).

Cooper’s third single made him a significant name in local music history. Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll (1957) was (as the story goes) about the Whanganui pie cart, where Cooper and the band would get their ‘pea, pie, and pud’ meals. Pie Cart Rock’n’roll was considered the first locally written rock’n’roll song. However, this is thought to be incorrect – Sandy Tansley’s 1957 song Resuscitation Rock (according to researcher John Baker) was released a few weeks before Pie Cart Rock’n’roll in September 1957.

Cooper and the band kept their audiences broad by appearing in variety shows. In the late 1950s he began the ‘Give it a Go’ talent quest, with musicians such as Mike Nock, John Rowles, and Midge Marsden appearing. The talent shows ended in 1968, and Cooper released his last single, Break the World in Two / Cold Cold Heart on Impact. He continued to perform in the 1970s as The Johnny Cooper Sound, and in the 1980s as part of the Original Ruamahanga River Band. He retired in the 1990s.

Johnny Cooper was 85 when he passed away last week at his home in Naenae.

NZ Music Month 2014

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and AV

Music Month has rolled around once again! This year, to draw attention to the recordings and music-themed material we have in the collections, we have created six posters that illustrate our interesting (and often decorative) holdings.

Archway Hocken Poster A2 May 3 14

The posters are currently displayed in the University of Otago’s stone archway on campus. They represent the various aspects of the music collections, including The Dunedin Sound, locally-focussed music sheets, and early 20th Century Māori music released on major international labels (and the attractive sleeve that accompanies it). We have also included an image of some of our more interesting and rare formats: cylinder, mini-CD, and (intriguingly) a disc the size of a business card. Also featured are examples of our music posters and music ephemera: programmes dating back to the 1920s.

Some of the images are well-known: the cover of ‘Doledrums’ by The Chills is hand drawn by the bands founder, vocalist and songwriter, Martin Phillipps; while the cover of ‘Bird Dog’ by the Verlaines is by John Collie, local musician and artist. The sleeve for Columbia Records’ Māori Recordings would have been familiar in the 1930s, but is now mostly forgotten to all except collectors and music historians. Graphically designed in red and black, the sleeve speaks to the Māori Marae design on the disc’s label. This label was used for local Māori recordings on Columbia Records.

Archway Hocken Poster A2 May 5 14

The eye catching poster for the Royal Comic Opera ‘Our Miss Gibbs’ dates to 1911 and this production was described in the Otago Daily Times at the time as “…the Greatest Musical Comedy Success Of Our Generation.” The ephemera collection includes a large number of programmes for a variety of musical events in Dunedin from the late nineteenth century through to the present day. Some colourful examples of these are represented on one poster and they demonstrate a few of the musical genres included in the collection.

The Ziggy Stardust Band

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

The title of this album (and band name) will be very familiar… but this is not the David Bowie creation! The Ziggy Stardust Band is the brainchild of Errol Barker (former cycle racing sensation) of Christchurch, and he recorded a number of albums under this guise. In the mid-1980s, Barker arrived at the doors of Nightshift Studios, and asked to record some music there. The studio’s engineer Arnold van Bussell agreed, and Barker returned with his drum machine, and a pre-recorded cassette of his guitar playing. After recording his vocal tracks, and some studio trickery (including what van Bussell called outrageous effects), the product was completed.

ZiggyStardustAlbum

And what does the Ziggy Stardust band album sound like? With song titles like Monstrocities, Human Boy and Schizophrenic Hotel, you might expect a sci-fi theme to be running through the record. To my surprise, the album has a Gothic Rock sound, with the strong, clinical backbeat of a drum machine. Barker’s free-form, reverbed guitar sounds ricochet off the space within the songs, and often have a siren-like effect – possibly due to van Bussell’s treatments. The vocals are half-spoken and mannered, more in the vein of Nick Cave than David Bowie, and this is used to great effect on Schizophrenic Hotel, which reworks the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. Most interesting are the instrumental tracks, which are soundscapes that focus on individual sounds rather than melodic hooks.

There is very little information on Barker and his musical creations, and after recording as the Ziggy Stardust band he dropped off the musical radar. According to van Bussel, Errol Barker still lives in Christchurch, and is still making interesting guitar sounds.

Thanks to Ian Chapman and Arnold van Bussel for information.

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian, Music and Audio-Visual