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Classic Kiwi Artists Get New Lease on Life

Classic Kiwi Artists Get New Lease on Life

Tied to the Tracks. Montage of digitised albums

Music labels digitise celebrated albums

Shona Laing, John Hanlon, Ray Columbus - just a few of the Kiwi music greats lost amid a generation a digital downloads and streaming. Until now.

Record labels large and small – with assistance from Recorded Music New Zealand – have worked together to digitally re-issue more than 200 classic NZ albums.

In celebration of NZ Music Month, and in conjunction with NZ Music Commission, the project is being officially launched to industry at Auckland’s Tyler Street Garage this evening (19 May). The event has been dubbed ‘Tied to the Tracks’ in honour of a LP that had been hidden in London archives for more than 30 years.

Album covers of records that are now available digitally will be displayed throughout the bar with the displays open to the public from May 20.

The initiative is spearheaded by Recorded Music NZ board chair Chris Caddick. A veteran of the NZ music industry, Caddick has been acutely aware of the wealth of NZ back catalogue that wasn’t available online.

“We have so many talented artists throughout NZ’s music history who for a long time have been in no man’s land because they were available only on a physical recording,” Caddick says.

“With the wide range of online services now available for music streaming and downloading, it’s an ideal time to dig out these rare gems and work with the labels to digitally re-issue them.”

In an effort that’s spanned the past two years, Caddick and the labels have uncovered albums that in some cases hadn’t seen the light of day for decades. Many precede even cassettes or CDs, having only been released as LPs in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Shona Laing is one whose albums have been digitised and she’s thrilled that Kiwis will be able to enjoy the digital versions of music many current artists have been inspired by.

“Today’s music is so different to that of my generation. All artists have distinctive influences and sounds and it’s fascinating to listen to and admire the differences that were relevant then.

“I firmly believe it’s important to preserve our music heritage and celebrate the influences that have brought us to where we are now. I’m absolutely stoked that our younger fans will now be exposed to a whole generation of talented Kiwi musicians.”

According to Caddick, one of the most satisfying batches of reissues was that of Shona Laing.

“I think it’s been particularly special to bring back her music - digitising Shona’s work alone has involved albums distributed by Sony, Universal, Warner and DRM.

“In fact, our launch event for the project is named ‘Tied to the Tracks’ in honour of Shona’s UK recorded album which had not been available in NZ for more than 30 years. It was tracked down and released just a week before she was inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame last year.”

In some cases the labels or Caddick had to hunt out the last remaining vinyl copies of albums from the artists themselves to arrange for them to be digitised.

“Many music fans may have forgotten the huge back catalogue of Kiwi classics that exist. But now with the click of a mouse via services such as iTunes, Spotify and Google Play, Kiwi music fans can relive their golden days.”

Caddick says in some cases - the likes of Dedikation and Simple Image – they’ve been able to reissue rare bonus tracks that were hidden away on the B-sides of singles when first released.

“Personally I’m just loving hearing the Ticket, Space Farm and Headband again which prior to now have been almost impossible to find. It’s brilliant.”

The launch of ‘Tied to the Tracks’ features performances by Shona Laing and John Hanlon. The album covers of records that are now available digitally will be displayed throughout Auckland’s Tyler Street Garage until June 2 for public viewing.

The programme of reissues is expected to continue for several more years.


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