SHANE - hosts Rocking the Planet with Shane on Face TV, Sky 83. His song St Paul won The Loxene Golden Disc in 1969.
16 Hip Hits by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra, 1964
Andrew Oldham was The Rolling Stones' manager, publicist and producer in the early part of their career. I bought this at Marbecks in late 64. It was a real mix of chart-topping songs with some bizarre arrangements of songs like My Boy Lollipop and classical arrangements of songs like I Want to Hold Your Hand. The members of the orchestra weren't credited but you could hear the Stones' influence. I joined The Pleazers in March 65 and introduced them to the album. Everyone loved it so much that we covered their version of Da Do Ron Ron on our album Definitely Pleazers. I left my vinyl collection with my father when I travelled to the UK in 1970. To my dismay, while I was overseas he gave away a stack of it to someone to sell at a jumble sale, including 16 Hip Hits. Disastrous. Now to my joy, it has resurfaced on YouTube.
GEORGIA NOTT - Half of Broods, whose first album was the award-winning Evergreen.
St Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley, 2009
Everyone knows the song Crazy off this album but the rest of it is just as amazing. I listened to it too many times to count when I was in high school, and every lyric is ingrained in my muscle memory. That is what initially drew me to the album; the lyrical content. It's hard-hitting and raw, and so clever. Songs like Just a Thought and St Elsewhere are so emotionally charged with themes that aren't often spoken about. Lyrics like "I've tried everything but suicide, but it's crossed my mind" are so real. Obviously Cee Lo's vocal is insane because it's him, but the placement of harmonies and the structure of each song is so untypical and interesting too. It's a masterpiece and always will be.
CALEB NOTT - Half of Broods whose most recent album is the award-winning Conscious.
I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose by Bombay Bicycle Club, 2009
I fell in love with this album while working in the vineyards one summer when I was at high school. I loved the way every part is a hook, whether it's the vocal, guitar or even the drums. I couldn't stop listening and soon I knew the whole album inside out and back to front. I spent the next two years trying to get big distorted guitars to groove like they did, and forced everyone in the band I was in at the time to love the album like I did. Jack Steedman's voice is so delicate and shaky at points, with melodies that sit so nicely on top of that twangy Telecaster. I don't have any favourites on this album, and there isn't a song that I enjoy less than others, and I think that is super rare.
SUZANNE LYNCH - Half of The Chicks before going on to success as a solo performer and a member of The Ladykillers.
For the Roses by Joni Mitchell, 1972.
I was bit of a romantic -- I still am -- and that's what this spoke to. I loved how the lyrics reached right to you. I loved her voice and the way she sang from a high to low register, the rhythms, the open tuning. I learned every one of those songs. but my very favourites were Woman of Heart and Mind and Blonde in the Bleachers. In those days, music was quite simple and she was quite complicated, but in a way that reached people. Even down to her open tuning -- I hadn't been taught guitar and by accident turned my guitar to an E to learn Big Yellow Taxi and I still play it in the same open tuning. Joni Mitchell influenced the whole way I look at music.
PARKS - A band member and producer of Ladi6.
Pinata by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, 2014
This is a collaboration album from two artists I'm into. Both have released albums since Pinata which have been good, but this album was special. Once I got into it, I realised it was some of the realest hip-hop I'd heard in ages. The contrast of those two styles was what made it special. So many times, I've wanted to hear that type of hard rapping over slightly more obscure psychedelic samples, as opposed to conscious style MCs that you would usually hear working with Madlib. It's surprisingly rare to hear really good gangsta rappers over really raw soul loops like Madlib's sound. I haven't, however, been too successful turning other people on to it. I think some of that is because the Freddie Gibbs is too street for some Madlib fans, and Madlib's production is too raw and maybe old-sounding to some Gibbs listeners.
FIONA McDONALD - A singer best known for her work with Headless Chickens and Strawpeople.
Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim by Frank Sinatra and Antonio Jobim, 1967
I probably heard this before I was even aware I was listening to it, because my dad thrashed it when I was little. It had a resurrection later, when my older brother discovered it. I listened again in a completely different way in my 20s. I haven't stopped loving it since. It's got a bossa nova feel but it's not cheesy. Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote most of the tracks with other people, but what makes it are Sinatra's vocals, Jobim's acoustic guitar and the orchestral arrangements. It's a tasteful, elegant album that's focused on creating a world where Frank's emotionally laden voice has your complete attention. It's just beautiful. When he sings that he's feeling lost and lonely, it's really authentic.
JADEN PARKES - A member of Leisure, whose self-titled debut album was released in October.
Debbie and the Downers by Debbie and the Downers, 2014
Tim Arnold and Milan Borich, who used to be in Pluto, made this and released it on Spotify, but no one's heard it. It reminds me of elements of Elliot Smith and Nick Drake and early Neil Young -- it's a little bit acoustic and a little bit psychedelic and it's really dark. There's a lot of break-up themes, but the melodies are beautiful and the songs so well constructed that there's a nice juxtaposition between those two aspects. This was something they were working on for a couple of years and it never really seemed to get the attention it deserves. I think I might be the only one listening sometimes, because when I play a song on Spotify it spikes in popularity.
MOANA MANIAPOTO - A singer, songwriter, documentary maker and champion of indigenous causes.
Yellow Moon by the Neville Brothers, 1989
This is one of the funkiest damn cross-genre voodoo concoctions ever made. It's dripping New Orleans. Cyril (reggae), Charles (jazz), Aaron (gospel) and that very funky keyboard man Art bring their individual tastes together in an album that nails their live performances. I always loved the inspirational tribute Sista Rosa and also Wake Up. Then there's God on Our Side and The Ballad of Hollis Brown -- both by Bob Dylan. They both sound provocative yet spiritual at the same time. And evocative. Close your eyes and you'll see a cabin on the edge of the swamp. Producer Daniel Lanois captured the Brothers and New Orleans beautifully with this album. He would go on to spend time, Aaron told me, trying to erase my son's cries from a recording that would end up on another album called Family Groove. But that's another story.
TAMI NEILSON - A country music singer and songwriter whose most recent album is Don't Be Afraid.
Up Above My Head b/w My Journey to the Sky by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 1947
Journey is the more obscure track and it's one of my favourites. I love this version in particular because it was one of the sessions she did with Marie Knight and it's really stripped back. They travelled for years and I love that they were two black women in the 40s, totally independent of male musicians. They had all their gear, their car and they travelled and toured as this self-contained unit. It was incredible for the times, and is incredible today, unfortunately. Sister Rosetta is such a touchstone for many female artists because she was not only an amazing vocalist and songwriter but a guitar player that Chuck Berry tried to emulate -- people credit him for inventing rock 'n' roll guitar, but he was trying to imitate her. She just totally took the sacred and made it mainstream
GRAY BARTLETT - A country music performer and promoter, and one third of the True Legends country supergroup.
Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories) by Charlie Haden and Pete Metheny, 1997
When I came across this I was totally captured and placed in another world of great emotional beauty. It's a jazz guitar album, with originals and covers. I used to have guys come around and I'd play it for them and they'd say: I have to get that. You can tell that the people who have done it have done it out of love for what they've put together. Someone who plays jazz would love it, but you don't have to be a jazz fan to enjoy it. It never sounds old. The music really does tell stories for people's lives. You make up your own story in your head as you hear it.
DEBBIE HARWOOD - Formed When the Cat's Away in 1986 and has most recently travelled New Zealand as part of The Church Tour.
Bellybutton 1990 and Spilt Milk 1993 by Jellyfish
Q magazine gave them five stars for their first album. Their influences are cited as Neil Finn, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Elvis Costello, The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Beautifully crafted songs full of deft twists and turns, punchy and perfect. A drumming front-man keening passionately his sensitive lyrics. The poor things emerged in San Francisco, in the early 90s, just as grunge barged its way into the mainstream psyche in the same way Split Enz walked straight into London's punk culture in the mid-70s. The timing was bad for both bands and Jellyfish foundered. Both albums are regularly thrashed at 11 in my house -- tattered and torn magnificence.
LAWRENCE ARABIA - Songwriter and performer whose most recent album is Absolute Truth.
Caterpillar and Butterfly by The Tokey Tones, 2003
This came out as two albums on the same day, and they are really of a piece. I guess you'd call it indie pop. At the time, I was in The Brunettes, and The Tokey Tones is basically a solo project of Scott Mannion, who was co-owner of Little Chief Records, the label that brought out our music. I knew Scott but had no idea how talented he was until I started hearing his music. At the time I found a lot of New Zealand music too aggressive or lacking in some finesse. When I heard Scott's music, I thought I'd found a kindred spirit. It's full of great ideas. You can listen to any part and it will be surprising and interesting.