The Cover of Herbs' First Pacific Reggae Album: Perusing the Paratext

Turner, E
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Journal Article
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Art & Design, Communication Studies, and Business, Auckland University of Technology

The cover of Herbs' award-winning EP What's Be Happen? is dominated by an image of the final day of the Bastion Point occupation in Ōrākei, Auckland on 25 May, 1978. Released in 1981, the album has been recognised in a number of music industry awards for its important contribution to cultural life in Aotearoa New Zealand, and for the musician's brave political stance in a period of activism that achieved significant social change. This article presents an analysis of the ways in which the record cover acts as a visual and textual introduction to the songs it encloses. Drawing on theorisations of features of paratext such as the title and images on a record sleeve as thresholding devices and as textual extensions of the records they enclose, the paper explores Herbs' album title, the typographic forms of the title and the band's name, and the use of colour, as well as the textual organisation of the songs on the two sides of the record. With reference to the social and political context at the time of the album's release, the article offers an interpretation of the identifications and values signified by these elements of the cover, as carriers of meaning.

Herbs; What's Be Happen?; Pacific Reggae; Album cover; Paratext; Context
Back Story, Journal of New Zealand Art, Media and Design History, issue 6, pp. 5-18.
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