A very nice woman from Parnell made arrangements the other day to come over to my house with a copy of my latest book, Cover Story: 100 beautiful, strange and frankly incredible New Zealand album covers, so I could sign it as a belated birthday present for her husband. She’s a friend of former broadcaster Mary Lambie, who got in touch with the request, and of course I was only too pleased to do so. She drove over on a Sunday. I was lounging around in my pyjamas when I heard a knock at the door and realised who it was, so I hurriedly dressed, and walked casually to the front door. We had a nice chat and I signed the book; she texted later that day, “Thanks again for signing the book – Dave’s really chuffed!”

Good old Dave! But the point of the story is to announce a rare ReadingRoom giveaway which will allow an easier and somewhat cheaper way to go about receiving a signed copy of the book. To mark the New Zealand Music Month of May, a free copy of Cover Story is up for grabs. I’ll sign it and make some sort of cheesy dedication to whoever wins. To enter, simply identify or guess the locations of the following four album covers (as below) and send the answers to stephen11@xtra.co.nz with the subject line, in screaming caps please, I WANT TO WIN THIS INSANE BOOK.

It’s a coffee-table book sized at the exact dimensions (12″ X 12″) of an LP. It reproduces 100 album covers made in New Zealand between 1957 (when the first LP was produced here) and 1987 (when the last record pressing plant was dismantled), and tells a range of usually quite poignant stories behind the covers – the country singer with 14 children (“He died with nothing, mate”, said his eldest son Bruce), the loneliest guitar player in the world, the singer who came out of a kind of coma to give a funny and detailed interview about his life but slipped back into delirium as soon as I left his house.

Entries close the last day of May (next Tuesday, May 31) at midnight. It’s not New Zealand Music Month after that. Good luck! I guarantee the winner will feel really chuffed.

Q 1: Awesome suit! But what’s the harbour?

Tommy, by Tommy Adderley and The Big Ones (RCA Victor, 1965)

 Q 2: This is actually a really good record – it’s got a Sun Records vibe, like early Johnny Cash. Name the famous South Island scenic spot.

Country Style, by Garner Wayne with the Deaconaires (Viking, 1962).

Q 3: It’s a live album recorded at the Westward Ho Tavern in Auckland. What part of Auckland? Clue: the pylons.

Prince Tui Teka Live in New Zealand by Prince Tui Teka (Tui Records, 1982).

Q 4: I asked director Geoff Steven to describe his 1984 film Strata, and he said, “It’s a movie where an unlikely group of people are stuck together in this dramatic landscape. They’re put into a quarantine station, because they’re carrying some sort of disease. One of the characters is a volcanologist. Another is an assassin. They leave quarantine, and wander across this full-on mountain volcanic landscape searching for — themselves no doubt, or searching for I don’t know what. It has a very East European bleakness about it. It got dubbed in Hungarian.” Woah! Anyway, where is this “dramatic landscape”, as seen on the soundtrack?

Strata, by Mike Nock (Kiwi Pacific, 1984).

Cover Story: 100 beautiful, strange and frankly incredible New Zealand album covers by Steve Braunias (Oratia Media, $50) is available in bookstores nationwide.

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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