Herbs (band)

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Herbs
Herbs live in February 2009.JPG
Herbs live on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, February 2009.
Background information
Origin New Zealand
Genres Pacific reggae
Years active 1979–present
Website http://www.glenmoffatt.com/herbs.htm
Members Dilworth Karaka
Tama Lundon
Thom Nepia
Tama Renata
Walter Bianco
Leyton Greening
Kaitapu Monga
Past members Toni Fonoti
Spencer Fusimalohi
Fred Faleauto
Dave Pou
John Berkley
Phil Toms
Morrie Watene
Alan Foulkes
Carl Perkins
Jack Allen
Willie Hona
Charlie Tumahai
Gordon Joll
Joe Walsh
Kristen Hapi
Juanito Muzzio
Grant Pukeroa
Max Hohepa
Walter Bianco
Leyton Greening
Lionel Nelson
Ned Webster
Ryan Monga

Herbs are a multi-cultural New Zealand reggae vocal group which had Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders and Maori in the band.[1] 11th inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, they formed in 1979, and were once described as "New Zealand's most soulful, heartfelt and consistent contemporary musical voice".[2] It has been said their debut EP Whats' Be Happen? "set a standard for Pacific reggae which has arguably never been surpassed".[3]

Politics[edit]

The band has always been political,[1] with links to the Polynesian Panthers and the cover of Whats' Be Happen (released during the 1981 Springbok tour) being an aerial photo of police action at Bastion Point in 1978.[4] As well as race relations, the band took a strong stance on nuclear weapons in the pacific with "French Letter".[5]

History[edit]

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, Herbs had 10 top 20 singles hits. Herbs also worked alongside UB40,[1] Taj Mahal, Tina Turner, Neil Young, George Benson and Stevie Wonder.

Though upbeat, Herbs' music is clear in its messages. Their 1982 New Zealand hit "French Letter", which spent 11 weeks on the charts, came to express New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance. Fourteen years later, it was re-recorded to garner support for the prevention of nuclear testing at Mururoa. Similarly, "No Nukes (The Second Letter)", "Nuclear Waste" and "Light of the Pacific" expressed much the same sentiment.[1]

Herbs' third release and first full album Long Ago, which featured the 1984 single of the same name, was produced by well-known New Zealand bass player Billy Kristian. In 1986, former Be-Bop Deluxe bassist/vocalist Charlie Tumahai joined the group, having been a session musician for various international acts.[6]

In 1986, "Slice of Heaven" with Dave Dobbyn reached number one on both the New Zealand and Australian charts. In 1989, Tim Finn joined them for "Parihaka" and, in 1992, Annie Crummer fronted the hit single "See What Love Can Do".

Around this time the band forged into producing, providing instrumentation for Samoan singing sensation, John Parker. The album titled Another Girl produced a local hit, a reggae-funk inspired cover of the maori folk song "E Papa".[citation needed]

In 1989, the band was assisted by Eagles member Joe Walsh, who produced, played slide guitar and sung on the band's Homegrown album, which featured a cover of "Walk Away Renee", originally recorded by The Left Banke. Walsh announced he had joined Herbs, but the union lasted less than a year.[7]

They also provided two songs to the 1990 film, The Shrimp on the Barbie: A cover of the Peggy Lee song "Mañana (Is Good Enough for Me)" and "Listen".

Herbs are considered pioneers of the Pacific reggae sound,[4] having paved the way for contemporary New Zealand reggae groups such as Fat Freddy's Drop, Katchafire and Trinity Roots.

Although their last album of new material was released in 1990, Herbs still perform in New Zealand and Australia, with guitarist Dilworth Karaka the last remaining member of the original line-up that released Whats' Be Happen? in 1981. Of the 2013 line-up, Karaka, keyboardist Tama Lundon (joined 1983) and percussionist Thom Nepia (joined 1985) remain from the band's late 1980s commercial peak.

"Homegrown" is featured on the soundtrack of Once Were Warriors.

Herbs lineups[edit]

Member Whats' Be Happen?
(1981)
Light of the Pacific
(1982)
Long Ago
(1984)
Sensitive to a Smile
(1987)
Homegrown
(1990)
"Till We Kissed"
(1993)
Current
line-up
Dilworth Karaka
guitar/vocals
Spencer Fusimalohi
lead guitar/vocals
Fred Faleauto
drums/vocals
Phil Toms
bass
Toni Fonoti
vocals/percussion
Jack Allen
bass
Morrie Watene
sax/vocals
Carl Perkins
percussion
Tama Lundon
keyboards/vocals
Willie Hona
guitar/vocals
Charlie Tumahai
bass/vocals
Thom Nepia
percussion/vocals
Gordon Joll
drums/vocals
Joe Walsh
guitar/vocals
Tama Renata
vocals and guitar
Walter Bianco
saxophone/flute
Leyton Greening
drums
Kaitapu Monga
Other former members
  • Dave Pou - bass guitar
  • John Berkley - bass guitar
  • Alan Foulkes - percussion
  • Kristen Hapi - drums
  • Juanito Muzzio - percussion
  • Grant Pukeroa - vocals/drums
  • Max Hohepa - vocals/bass guitar
  • Lionel Nelson - vocals
  • Ned Webster - drums
  • Ryan Monga - drums

Past members[edit]

  • Toni Fonoti - vocals/percussion
  • Spencer Fusimalohi - vocals/guitar
  • Fred Faleauto (deceased) - vocals/drums
  • Dave Pou - bass guitar
  • John Berkley - bass guitar
  • Phil Toms - vocals/bass guitar
  • Morrie Watene - vocals/saxophone
  • Alan Foulkes - percussion
  • Carl Perkins - vocals/percussion
  • Jack Allen - vocals/bass guitar
  • Willie Hona - vocals/guitar
  • Charlie Tumahai (deceased) - vocals/bass guitar
  • Gordon Joll - drums
  • Joe Walsh - vocals/guitar
  • Kristen Hapi - drums
  • Juanito Muzzio - percussion
  • Grant Pukeroa - vocals/drums
  • Max Hohepa - vocals/bass guitar
  • Lionel Nelson - vocals
  • Ned Webster - drums
  • Ryan Monga - drums

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
positions
NZ[8]
1981 Whats' Be Happen?
  • Label: Warrior
  • Catalogue: Z 20012
40
1982 Light of the Pacific
  • Label: Warrior
  • Catalogue: WAR 2005
49
1984 Long Ago
  • Label: Warrior
  • Catalogue: WAR 2007
39
1987 Sensitive to a Smile
  • Label: Warrior
  • Catalogue: WAR 2008
10
1988 Sensitive to a Smile
  • Australian pressing
  • Label: Mushroom
  • Catalogue: L38988
1990 Homegrown
  • Label: Tribal
  • Catalogue: 9031727721-1
1993 13 Years of Herbs: The Best Of
  • Label: Warner New Zealand
  • Catalogue: 4509941522
14
2001 Listen: The Very Best Of
  • Label: Warner New Zealand
  • Catalogue: 0927419502
1
2008 Lights of the Pacific: The Very Best Of
  • Label: Warner New Zealand
  • Catalogue: 5186511252
8
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
NZ[8]
1982 "French Letter" 11 Light of the Pacific
"Jah's Son" 15
1984 "Long Ago" 22 Long Ago
1985 "Nuclear Waste" 32
1986 "Slice of Heaven" (as Dave Dobbyn with Herbs) 1 Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tale
1987 "Sensitive to a Smile" 9 Sensitive to a Smile
"Rust in Dust" 11
1988 "Listen" 7
1989 "No Nukes (The Second Letter to France)" 48
"Parihaka" (as Tim Finn and Herbs) 6 Tim Finn
1991 "Homegrown" 41 Homegrown
1992 "See What Love Can Do" (as Annie Crummer feat. Herbs) 3 Language
1993 "Till We Kissed" (as Herbs feat. Ray Columbus) 26 Non-album singles
1994 "Good for Life"
1995 "French Letter '95" 9
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Critical reception and awards[edit]

RIANZ Awards[edit]

The New Zealand Music Awards are awarded annually by the RIANZ in New Zealand.

Year Award[9] Work Result
1983 Album of the Year Light of the Pacific Nominated
Top Group of the Year Nominated
1985 Album of the Year Long Ago Nominated
Polynesian Album of the Year Long Ago Won
1986 International Achievement Won
1987 Album of the Year Sensitive to a Smile Won
Best Male Vocalist Thom Nepia (Herbs) Nominated
Best Group Nominated
Best Polynesian Album E Papa - Jah Knows Won
Best Songwriter Charles Tumahai/ Dilworth Karaka - "Sensitive to a Smile" Won
1988 Best Male Vocalist Nominated
Best Group Won
1990 Best Polynesian Album Homegrown Won
1996 Single of the Year "French Letter '95" Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Kara, Scott (Nov 22, 2008). "Politics, peace and love (stories behind 5 songs as told by Karaka)". NZ Herald. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Chris Spencer, Who's Who of Australian Rock, second edition, Five Mile Press, 1989, ISBN 0-86788-213-1
  3. ^ Philip Hayward (editor), Sound Alliances: Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Politics and Popular Music in the Pacific, Cassell, 1998, ISBN 0-304-70050-9
  4. ^ a b "HERBS, NEW ZEALAND'S POLITICISED REGGAE REVOLUTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME(2012): Hard tings an' times". Elsewhere. Graham Reid. 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  5. ^ "'French letter' by Herbs". NZHistory. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  6. ^ Charlie Tumahai obituary http://www.milesago.com/obits/tumahai-obit.htm
  7. ^ Herbs web site http://www.glenmoffatt.com/herbs_history.htm
  8. ^ a b "HERBS IN NEW ZEALAND CHARTS". Charts.org.nz. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "NZMAs". nzmusicawards.co.nz. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 

External links[edit]