Pioneers of New Zealand music, Herbs announce the reissue of their ground-breaking back catalogue on 180gm coloured vinyl - pressed right here in Aotearoa by Holiday Records. Also released on August 25 is a numbered limited-edition box set featuring all five albums special fold out poster and liner notes for fans.
Herbs, the NZ reggae group were founded in 1979 and led by singer-guitarist Dilworth Karaka, the only constant member. Since its foundation Herbs has been multi-ethnic in membership and featured Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, New Zealand Europeans and Maori members.
Herbs were the 11th inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, and were once described as "New Zealand's most soulful, heartfelt and consistent contemporary musical voice". Herbs produced a stream of reggae hits with some of the country's top talent. In the 1980s and the first half of the '90s, they had 10 top 20 singles hits.
Herbs also worked alongside UB40, Taj Mahal, Billy Preston, Neil Sedaka, Tina Turner, Neil Young, George Benson, Joe Walsh, and Stevie Wonder.
The special box set collection, releasing to celebrate the pioneers of New Zealand music Herbs, is extremely limited. Delving into the rich potpourri of sounds and ideas the early Herbs collection contains – it will include five studio albums: Whats’ Be Happen’ (1981), Light Of The Pacific (1983), Long Ago (1984), Sensitive To A Smile (1987) and Homegrown (1990).
Herbs were among New Zealand's first reggae bands to explore important Aotearoa New Zealand issues, standing up as a voice for people that weren’t getting heard.
Throughout their career and journey as artists, Herbs were important figures in NewZealand's anti-nuclear stance, the Rainbow Warrior affair, and Māori land rights, most notably Bastion Point. At the time of the release of their debut EP/mini-album WHAT’S BE HAPPEN? the cover of their recording debut displayed a black and white photo of the infamous police eviction of the Bastion Point protestors on May 25 1978. It set the tone for where Herbs were coming from and that they weren’t afraid to use their music to make social commentary on issues affecting them. This year marks 45 years since the occupation at Bastion Point.
“Herbs was the voice that rose- up from The Streets of Auckland, that called out the injustices of South Africa, identified the misery of the dawn raids. This was the band that called out for one brotherhood in Aotearoa – NZ, where the different races that existed in this country could come together to sing and dance in the one place. This is a beautiful collection. And when I sit down and think about the journey of the band indeed, this is the time to celebrate”. Hugh Lynn – Herbs Manager
The band welcomed many musicians throughout their active years, resulting in a rich line-up totalling some 27 members across their catalogue. Current members Dilworth Karaka, Maurice Watene and Tama Lundon, have been instrumental in getting this significant project off the ground.
Herbs were inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame at the 2012 APRA Silver Scroll Awards, where seventeen of the band members past and present came together onstage, and Dilworth made a short and moving speech honouring his band members including those who had passed away.
2023 is also a special year for the album collection release, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the album LIGHT OF THE PACIFIC (1983). The 1983 mini album featured the hugely popular single ‘French Letter’, a song that stayed in the singles chart for 11 weeks in 1982, with almost no radio airplay.
“This is exciting to be acknowledged and release this album after about 50 years of work. The introduction of pacific reggae brought a new flavor to the mix back then, but things weren't so easy for a group of brown boys from the Pacific, central Auckland, Aotearoa to be “heard”, even in our own country. We wanted to get our message out there through the only way we knew how, for everyone to listen to and enjoy. Things have changed somewhat in regard to the protection of our whenua, moana and people, and we are humbled that our music continues to be enjoyed to this day. Some of the brothers aren't here to share in this celebration, but we thank you for laying the foundations, and we thank you all for your support and love over the years. Chur…” – Dilworth Karaka, HERBS
Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua
(I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past)
The Herbs repertoire includes albums that are nothing short of iconic. Full catalogue below:
- Whats’ Be Happen (1981) – Translucent red vinyl
- Light Of The Pacific (1983) - Translucent blue vinyl
- Long Ago (1984) – Translucent green vinyl
- Sensitive To A Smile (1987) – Translucent yellow vinyl
- Homegrown (1990) – Translucent orange vinyl