Seasonal sounds from our CD collection

It’s almost Christmas, and amongst other things that means Christmas songs have started to fill the airwaves. It’s easy to roll your eyes at the prospect, but there is actually a great deal more to Christmas music than “All I Want for Christmas is You” (nothing against Mariah’s seasonal juggernaut, if it’s your preferred Christmas jam we do have it on Merry Christmas / Carey, Mariah).

A wide variety of artists have recorded Christmas albums, the following is just a sampling of what is available at Wellington City Libraries. They range from fairly straightforward collections of seasonal standards to more personal and idiosyncratic affairs, to some which can only be described as very out of the box. Either way, if you’re looking for something to soundtrack your Christmas break, one of these might do the trick!

Ella wishes you a swinging Christmas / Fitzgerald, Ella
Christmas with the Rat Pack
The Christmas collection / Jackson 5
Christmas songs / Krall, Diana
Dr. Demento presents the greatest Christmas novelty CD of all time
Quality Street : a seasonal selection for all the family / Lowe, Nick
Tinsel and lights / Thorn, Tracey
One more drifter in the snow / Mann, Aimee
Christmas party / She & Him

Ella wishes you a swinging christmas Christmas with the rat pack The Christmas collection / Jackson 5

Christmas songs / Krall, Diana Dr. Demento presents the greatest Christmas novelty CD of all time Quality Street : a seasonal selection for all the family / Lowe, Nick

Tinsel and lights / Thorn, Tracey One more drifter in the snow / Mann, Aimee Christmas party / She & Him


50 Years of Darkness

2023 marks 50 years since the release of Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon.  The group’s eighth studio album, Dark Side of the Moon is a conceptual work dealing with mental illness and how the pressures of modern life (particularly the life of a rock band…) can exacerbate it. As with much of Pink Floyd’s work, the shadow of founder Syd Barrett, by then a recluse due to mental illness and drug abuse, hangs over the album.

Sessions took place at EMI Studios in London with the album being released on 1 March 1973. Although the music was written by all four band members, bassist Roger Waters was by this point responsible for all the lyrics. As well as its musical strengths the album also showcased another Floyd trademark via its extensive use of sound effects.

Dark Side of the Moon would top the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic and has at the time of writing sold in the neighbourhood of 45 million copies. It spent an astonishing 741 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 200, only finally slipping off on 8 October 1988. The two singles from the album, “Money” and “Time” are among Floyd’s most well-known songs and remain staples of classic rock radio.

The iconic sleeve was designed by Storm Thorgerson, an English graphic designer who would go on to design similarly distinctive covers for several other Pink Floyd albums (showcased in Mind over matter : the images of Pink Floyd / Thorgerson, Storm).

Since its release, Floyd have frequently returned to the album and several acts have paid tribute to it, the following is what’s available at Wellington City Libraries.

The dark side of the moon [remaster] / Pink Floyd
The original masterpiece is available in several different cd and vinyl versions, the most recent in the collection being the 2011 remastering on vinyl.



The dark side of the moon : live at Wembley, London, 1974 / Pink Floyd
Recently released as park of a 50th anniversary package, this captures a widely bootlegged concert at Wembley Arena where the newly released album was performed in its entirety.


Continue reading “50 Years of Darkness”

A Nineties Deep Dive on Kanopy

Among the abundance of great content available on the film streaming site Kanopy (available through our eLibrary) are a number of gems from the Nineties. Spanning a wide variety of genres, here is a sampling of what is available.

Glengarry Glen Ross
1hr 40min
Adapted from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross shows David Mamet at his searing, profane best. A group of Chicago real-estate salesmen-cum-con artists live on the edge. Life is good for the one on a roll. For the rest, life hangs in the balance. There is no room for losers. A-B-C: Always Be Closing, sell or go under, is the salesman’s mantra. With the pressure on, so begins a rainy night of cutthroat business and shattered lives. (Adapted from Kanopy).

Night On Earth
2hr 08min
In one night, across the world, five taxi drivers experience five very different rides. In LA, a flustered agent recognises star quality in her driver, while New York in all its glory defeats a new American. A Parisian taxi driver learns the real meaning of discrimination, and a rollicking ride through Rome has repercussions for the clergy. And finally, a trio of drunken Finns make a typically humorous end to their night. (Adapted from Kanopy).

Continue reading “A Nineties Deep Dive on Kanopy”

The history of heavy metal

As well as the metal albums highlighted in my recent blog post, Wellington City Libraries also has a selection of books covering the fascinating history of metal and the larger-than-life figures who drove it.

The rough guide to heavy metal / Berelian, Essi
“With more than 300 artist biographies and band stories, this is the essential heavy metal companion. Additional features include dozens of boxouts and sidebars on topics as diverse and disturbing as Weird Hobbies, Christian Metal, the Japanese Scene, Weird Day Jobs, the Eastern European Scene, Hardcore Crossover and Drummer Jokes.  If you love metal, this is the book for you.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


I am Ozzy / Osbourne, Ozzy
“The incredible, frank and moving autobiography by the Prince of F***ing Darkness!” (Catalogue)




Denim and leather : the rise and fall of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal / Hann, Michael
“Between 1978 and 1983, Great Britain spawned a DIY uprising of over 500 heavy metal bands. Many soon became the household names of the 1980s metal invasion…many others did not. For the first time, author Michael Hann captures the whole snout-to-tail story of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in all its power and glory in over 100 interviews with members of Venom, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Samson, UFO, Tygers of Pan Tang, Vardis, Judas Priest, Saxon, Whitesnake, Girlschool, Witchfynde, Demon, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Gillan, Led Zeppelin, and more. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Continue reading “The history of heavy metal”

I Was a Teenage Metalhead

As an impressionable teenager, circa 1988, I became a huge metal and hard rock fan. Eventually I broadened my musical horizons, but you never forget your first musical love. Several records I discovered during that phase are in the Wellington collection, waiting to be discovered by any budding metalhead who might happen to be reading!

Operation Mindcrime / Queensrÿche
Queensryche hit paydirt both critically and commercially with a concept album about an addict named Nikki who is brainwashed into committing assassinations by a shadowy underground movement. Refreshingly, the story actually makes sense, and the bands anthemic pomp metal sounds great, especially on the 11-minute epic “Suite Sister Mary” and the dramatic closer “Eyes of a Stranger”.

Powerslave / Iron Maiden
Heavy, melodramatic and just the right side of silly, Powerslave is arguably the high point of Maidens great eighties run. The record begins with the awesome one-two punch of “Aces High” and “2 Minutes to Midnight” and doesn’t let up for a second till the end. Other highlights include the title track and “The Duellists”, and it all comes to a climax with a 14-minute adaption of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”  Also, one of the all-time great album covers.

Hysteria / Def Leppard
You couldn’t escape this record in 1988, and with good reason. Its making was plagued with delays and almost derailed when drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a car accident. But with the help of legendary producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, the Leps persevered and created a pop-metal masterpiece. This is a record strategically designed to be a hit, overflowing with irresistible hooks and choruses punched up to maximum effectiveness by Langes grandiose, layered production. The hits (most notably “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, “Love Bites”, “Armageddon It”, and “Hysteria”) still hold up but album tracks such as “Gods of War” and “Don’t Shoot Shot Gun” should absolutely not be overlooked!

Continue reading “I Was a Teenage Metalhead”

Tina Turner 1939-2023

The legendary Tina Turner has passed away at the age of 83. The following titles from her illustrious career are available in Wellington Libraries.

Private dancer / Turner, Tina
Still arguably the greatest comeback in pop music history. Assembled quickly with a variety of producers, Private Dancer is a slick pop confection, decidedly different from the gutsy RnB that she initially became famous for with the husband Ike. Turner is in fantastic voice, bringing a survivor’s maturity and grit to the material. The Grammy winning “What’s Love Got to do With It” and the Mark Knopfler penned title track were the big hits, but sparkling covers of David Bowies “1984”, The Beatles “Help”, and Al Greens “Let’s Stay Together” round out a fantastic pop album that still sounds great today.

Break every rule / Turner, Tina
Sticking with the successful format, this again featured the song-writing of Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, the team behind “What’s Love Got to do With It”. Their contributions, “Typical Male” and “What you Get is What You See” kept Turner riding high in the charts. Less well-known highlights include the power ballad “I’ll Be Thunder” and the Bowie cover “Girls.”

Foreign affair / Turner, Tina
Tina would return to her blues roots on this 1989 set with a couple of scorching Tony Joe White covers, “Steamy Windows” and “Undercover Agent for the Blues”. The former would prove a sizeable hit, as would adult contemporary ballad “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” and one of her best-known recordings “The Best”, since immortalised by its use as a promotional tune for the Australian National Rugby League.

The collected recordings : sixties to nineties / Turner, Tina
All the best / Turner, Tina
Both fine compilations. The Collected Recordings, released in 1994, offers a superb introduction to Turners Sixties work with Ike Turner, from early hits like “A Fool in Love” and “Proud Mary” to the Phil Spector collaboration “River Deep, Mountain High”, which Spector considered his greatest recording. It also includes often

overlooked period between her split from Ike and her spectacular comeback in 1984. All the Best focusses solely on her post-1984 period but includes several quality tracks from the mid-to-late nineties not represented on the earlier compilation, most notably one of the all-time great Bond themes “Goldeneye”.