It’s been a project I’ve spent more than few leisure hours engrossed in and on.
I’m not sure that it will change the world but I’m well aware of the woeful state of the online documentation and presentation of so much of New Zealand’s music history. There is, of course, the wonderful 50s and 60s encyclopaedia of New Zealand rock’n’roll presented online by Bruce Sergent, but it hasn’t been updated in many years and remains unfinished.
There are other bits and pieces and the NZ History site has some wonderful stuff. But it’s all very patchy out there and if the intent of my website is narrowed down to one thing it’s to try and document parts of our popular history that have largely remained undocumented in detail.
With that in mind, I decided, a couple of years back, to put together a singles discography of what may be NZ’s most important record label, Eldred Stebbing’s legendary and groundbreaking Zodiac, and it’s associated bits and pieces.
With Eldred’s passing last year it seemed timely to finally finish this, or at least take it to a publishable standard, and post it, which I did a few days ago. This does, however, remain a work in progress and I’ll add more images and data as it and they become available. The work of Chris Bourke, who’s forthcoming book on NZ music pre-rock, is one that I’m gagging to get my hands on, and Chris and historian John Baker have helped immensely.
There are some acts that defy my research and I’ve been especially hampered by the fact that I’ve mostly done it from Asia, with a brief burst in the Auckland library over January. Hopefully, these come to light as this page goes live and people email me data.
All of these records pre-date my active involvement in making music and records in NZ but I both remember many of these tunes as anthems when I was a kid growing up listening to the ZMs and Hauraki, and was aware of the huge legacy that shadowed us when we began our labels in the early 1980s. These were the people that inspired us, and when I first met Eldred, in 1975, I was a kid in awe.
In other words, I’ve done this as a fan, and when I emailed Chris Parfitt of the Hi-Revving Tongues, who I loved as a kid, I gushed embarrassingly and self-consciously when I started the email.
I own about half these records but made the decision not to scan every label as it would swamp the page, which goes on enough as it is. And I’m aware that it’s mostly a trainspotter’s world here, but I hope the less nerdy amongst us can jump in and take a bit of history away.
It’s scary how organic all these bands were – people went from group to group and grew with the label; the likes of Glyn Tucker, another one of my heroes, who recorded for Zodiac first in 1960 and last in 1968, with at least three acts. And it’s also very obvious how much of an impact The Beatles changed the pop world. Simply put, there was Zodiac pre-Fab 4 and Zodiac post-Fab 4. They changed everything overnight and opened the door to the thing we now call Rock.
So, here it is, The Zodiac 45 listing, a rather consuming thing to do but it’s been an obsessive bit of fun and there is more to come at some stage.