Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blerta - This Is The Life (1975)

A crucial chapter in NZ's alternative lifestyle, music, film, and visual and performing arts histories, the legend of Blerta's four years on Earth (and probably other planets) possibly outweighs their actual recorded output. Others have written plenty about the significant influence of the troupe, including Roger Booth's excellent Bruno Lawrence bio, and a Radio New Zealand audio documentary.

The cover art -- and the image of muddy hippies that the Blerta story conjures up -- has little to do with their sophisticated, finely-honed music. I expected fuzz guitar, sloppy lyrics about peace, and possibly bongos. Their debut album is jazzy, silly, bawdy, and above all well-crafted. Side one really captures the theatrical side of the touring band, with suggestive story-songs for the grown-ups (no "Dance All Around The World" here), and Beaver's joyful ballad "This Is The Life." Side two starts with the short Bruno-sung "Superman", then another ballad, then quickly moves on to nearly 20 minutes of tight pop-psych-jazz instrumentals. 


Lyin' in bed, right out of my head [link removed]

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