Essential New Zealand Albums

Music critic Nick Bollinger has spent thousands of hours listening to hundreds of albums over many years. Here he presents a selection of the very best records from Aotearoa.

Nick Bollinger's Essential NZ Albums

Nick pops into the studio to explain what makes an essential New Zealand album ahead of his radio series.

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Essential NZ Albums: Proud - An Urban-Pacific Streetsoul Compilation

Proud An Urban Pacific Street soul Compilation

Proud was a 1994 compilation of South Auckland music which paved the way for OMC's worldwide hit, 'How Bizarre'.

Nick Bollinger talks to Proud's producer Alan Jansson.

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Vocal Five
Song: God Defend New Zealand
Artist: OMC
Song: We Are The OMC
Artist: Semi MCs
Songs: Trust Me, I Don’t Need You
Artist: Sisters Underground
Songs: Ain’t It True, In The Neighbourhood
Artist: Di-Na-Ve
Song: Dawn Of The Eve
Artist: Radio Backstab & DJ Payback
Song: Bassed On A Lost Cause
Artist: Pacifican Descendants
Songs: Tuesday Blues, Pass It Over
Artist: Puka Puka
Song: Pacific Beats
Album: Proud - An Urban-Pacific Streetsoul Compilation
Label: Volition

Essential NZ Albums: Split Enz - Mental Notes

Split Enz Mental Notes album cover

Though Split Enz made many successful records, they never made another as disturbingly brilliant as their debut Mental Notes.

Music critic Nick Bollinger discusses this landmark 1975 release.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Split Enz
Songs: Walking Down A Road, Under The Wheel, Amy (Darling), Stranger Than Fiction, Maybe, Spellbound, So Long For Now, Time For A Change, Mental Notes.
Album: Mental Notes
Label: Mushroom

Essential NZ Albums: Goldenhorse - Riverhead

Goldenhorse Riverhead album cover

Goldenhorse reached number one in New Zealand with their first album - but not until two years after it was released.

Nick Bollinger discusses this local classic, and speaks to Goldenhorse founder Geoff Maddock.


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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Goldenhorse
Songs: Northern Lights, Spice Islands, Golden Dawn, Maybe Tomorrow, Riverhead, Shrinking Her Legs, Baby’s Been Bad, American Wife, Dark Forest
Album: Riverhead
Label: Capitol

Essential NZ Albums: Hello Sailor - Hello Sailor

Hello Sailor Hello Sailor cover image

The release of Hello Sailor's first album was a sign that local rock had lost its innocence.

Nick Bollinger discusses this smart and seedy Kiwi classic.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Hello Sailor
Songs: Gutter Black, All Around This Town, When Your Lights Are Out, Blue Lady, Latin Lover, Lyin’ In The Sand, Watch Your Back, Hooked.
Album: Hello Sailor
Label: Key

Essential NZ Albums: Herbs - Light of the Pacific

Herbs Light Of The Pacific album cover

Combining the influences of Bob Marley and the music of their Polynesian heritage, Herbs were pioneers of a Pacific reggae sound.

Nick Bollinger discusses their first long-player Light of the Pacific.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Herbs
Songs: Light of the Pacific, Thems The Breaks, Mama’s Song, Jah’s Son, Crazy Mon, Meteli.
Album: Light of the Pacific
Label: Warrior

Essential NZ Albums: Crocodiles - Tears

The Crocodiles Tears album cover

The Crocodiles brought together some of the sharpest minds in Kiwi pop.

Nick Bollinger discusses the 1980 debut Tears.

 

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: The Crocodiles
Songs: New Wave Goodbye, In My Suit, Tears, Any Day Of The Week, Working Girl, All Night Long, Young Ladies In Hot Cars, It’s The Latest, Whatcha Gonna Do.
Album: Tears
Label: RCA

Essential NZ Albums: The Islander - Dave Dobbyn

Dave Dobbyn The Islander album cover image

There may be no artist who has made more essential New Zealand albums than Dave Dobbyn.

Nick Bollinger discusses his most quintessentially 'New Zealand' one: The Islander.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Dave Dobbyn
Songs: Waiting, Mobile Home, Hanging In The Wire, Beside You, Blindman’s Bend, Hands, Keep A Light On, One Proud Minute, Hallelujah Song
Album: The Islander
Label: Columbia

Essential NZ Albums: Sunshine - Dragon

Dragon Sunshine international album cover

Dragon was a New Zealand band that lived life in the fast lane of Australian rock'n'roll.

The 1976 album Sunshine tells a slice of the story.

Nick Bollinger discusses the disc in detail.

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Dragon
Songs: Same Old Blues, Sunshine, Get That Jive
Composer: Hewson
Songs: Street Between Your Feet, Mx, The Letter, Blacktown Boogie
Composer: Taylor/Hunter
Song: This Time
Composer:
Album: Sunshine
Label: CBS

Essential NZ Albums: Introducing... Dinah Lee

Introducing Dinah Lee album cover

In 1964 20-year old Christchurch singer Dinah Lee stormed the national hit parade with her local variation on the Jamaican ska sound.

Nick Bollinger discusses her debut, Introducing... Dinah Lee.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Dinah Lee
Songs: I’m Walkin’,  Do The Bluebeat, Say Mama, Don’t You Know Yockamo, Who Stole The Sugar, Hallelujah I Love Him So,  I’m In Love Again, Happy Blue Beat, Nitty Gritty, Rock Around The Clock
Album: Introducing Dinah Lee
Label: Viking

Essential New Zealand Albums: Che Fu - Navigator

Che Fu Navigator album cover

Che Fu's Navigator is an essential New Zealand album for its all-embracing fusion of soul, reggae, hip-hop and Pacifican sounds.

Nick Bollinger discusses it in detail.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Che Fu
Songs: Misty Frequencies, Catch One, Random, Share The Info, The Abyss, He Kotahi, Roots Man, The Natural, Fade Away, Hold Tight
Album: Navigator
Label: Epic

Essential NZ Albums - The Human Instinct Stoned Guitar

The Human Instinct Stoned Guitar album coverSince its release at a budget price in 1970, The Human Instinct's Stoned Guitar has become recognized as a classic of psychedelic rock.

Nick Bollinger discusses how it came about.

 

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: The Human Instinct
Songs: Jugg-A-Jugg, Midnight Sun, Tomorrow, Railway and Gun, Black Sally, Stoned Guitar
Album: Stoned Guitar
Label: Air

Essential NZ Albums: Sneaky Feelings - Send You

Sneaky Feelings Send You album coverIn the Flying Nun scene of the early 80's, Dunedin's Sneaky Feelings stood out for their aspirations.

Nick Bollinger discusses the first album, Send You, and talks to the record's producer Phil Yule.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Sneaky Feelings
Songs: Waiting For Touchdown, Throwing Stones, PIT Song, Won’t Change, Strangers Again, Not To Take Sides, Someone Else’s Eyes
Album: Send You
Label: Flying Nun

Essential NZ Albums - Fourmyula - Turn Your Back On The Wind

The Fourmyula Turn Your Back On The Wind album coverFor almost forty years one of the essential New Zealand albums remained unreleased and locked in a London vault.

Nick Bollinger tells the story of the Fourmyula's great 'lost' recording, Turn Your Back On The Wind.

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: The Fourmyula
Songs: Since We, Up Country City Down, Take Me, Believe In Love, If You Need A Friend, Turn Your Back On The Wind, Nature,  Molly, Wrong Or Right.
Album: Turn Your Back On The Wind
Label: EMI

Essential NZ Albums: The Mutton Birds

The Mutton Birds album cover

Nick Bollinger investigates the self-titled debut of The Mutton Birds, and talks to the group's found and songwriter Don McGlashan.

 

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: The Mutton Birds
Songs: Dominion Road, Your Window, She’s Like A City, Before The Breakthrough, White Valiant, Giant Friend, Big Fish, A Thing Well Made, Nature.
Album: The Mutton Birds
Label: Bag

Essential NZ Albums: True - Trinity Roots

Trinity Roots True album cover

Few albums convey a sense of place like True, the debut of Trinity Roots. Nick Bollinger discusses how this recording became inseparable from its location.

 

 

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Adapted from the book 100 Essential Albums, by Nick Bollinger, published by Awa Press.

Music Details

Artist: Trinity Roots
Songs: True, Beautiful People, Cents and Sense, Little Things, Just Like You, Call To You, Egos, Passion
Album: True
Label: Trinity Roots