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Radio New Zealand’s ‘The Blerta Years’ from 2011

Part 1: BLERTA is coming
In the summer of 1971 the nation was plastered with brightly coloured posters announcing ‘BLERTA is coming’. Who or what was BLERTA ?

Part 2: Chaos in Christchurch
BLERTA, a madcap merging of rock and jazz musicians, actors, film makers and cultural revolutionaries was determined to bring its music & message to the whole nation…

Part 3: Dance All Around the World
With ‘Dance All Around the World’ becoming a Kiwi anthem, and the hippy entourage of musicians, actors, movie makers and cultural revolutionaries touring the country, the BLERTA phenomenon was well established…

Part 4: This is the Life
After a two year break from New Zealand BLERTA, headed home to the Waimarama commune to prepare for their final tours…

Last edited: 19.08.15

From AudioCulture

At the dawn of the 70s brightly coloured posters began appearing around the country announcing "Blerta is coming". Who or what BLERTA was remained unclear, until an old red bus covered in hippie symbols and an entourage of minstrels, multimedia pioneers and hangers-on trundled into town. Bruno Lawrence's Electric Revelation and Traveling Apparition (BLERTA), a collusion of musicians, actors, script writers and movie makers, delivered a unique blend of theatrical rock and children’s shows that helped reshape New Zealand’s film, television and music industries. Bruno was already an icon in the music industry, having played drums with many industry luminaries and released the single 'Bruno Do That Thing'. He had also made his mark as an actor in Tank Busters and TV series Pukemanu, working alongside school friend and director Geoff Murphy. On finishing his term with Wellington’s brassy rockers The Quincy Conserve, for whom he wrote the award winning Ride The Rain, he joined singer Corben Simpson and Tony Littlejohn. Read moreProfile from Audioculture, available under a Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence

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  • View on NZ On Screen Blerta

    Source: NZ On Screen

    "If a single word could sum up the free-wheeling flavour of alternative music and comedy in Aotearoa during the 1970s, that word would surely be ... Blerta. (The song would be ‘Dance All around the World’.) The 'Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition' encompassed foundation members of the NZ film and TV industry (Lawrence, Geoff Murphy, Alun Bollinger, Martyn Sanderson) and many other merry pranksters and hippy freaks. They toured the country in the early 70s in an iconic graffiti-covered bus, ending with a 1975 tour and 1976 TV series." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Blerta Revisited

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Documentary ; Music ; Arts/Culture ; Film

    "If a single word could sum up the free-wheeling flavour of alternative music and comedy in Aotearoa during the 1970s, that word would surely be ... Blerta. The 'Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition' included foundation members of the NZ screen industry (Lawrence, Geoff Murphy, Alun Bollinger) plus other merry pranksters. Drawing on the Blerta TV series and beyond, Blerta Revisited  (aka Blerta - The Return Trip) is an anarchic collection of comedy skits, musical interludes and films culled from the Blerta archives. Costa Botes writes about Blerta here. " (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Dance All around the World

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Music Video

    "This beloved song was written in Wanaka on the first (1971) Blerta tour as part of The Blerta Kids' Show. (The children’s slot was made to allay conservative fears as the busload of merry pranksters rolled into town.) The concept was inspired by a Margaret Mahy story — reshaped by Geoff Murphy — and the music was composed by Corben Simpson. Bill Stalker provided the narration. It became a hit single and synonymous with Kiwi counter culture. There was never a video made, nor extant concert footage: this clip is excerpted from Murphy’s Blerta Revisited doco." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Magic Kiwis - Bruno Do That Thing

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Documentary ; Television

    "This fast-paced trip through Bruno Lawrence’s first 50 years combines interviews, clips from his many film and TV roles, and priceless material from the vaults (early acting parts, Edmund Hillary presenting Bruno with a Feltex). Bruno talks about favourite roles, the challenges of breaking into the US after hit Smash Palace, and the music-based film he long hoped to direct. LA Times critic Sheila Benson raves about both Bruno and Sam Neill. The Bruno interviews conducted for this doco would later win an extended airing in biographical doco Numero Bruno." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Charlie Horse

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Documentary ; Television

    "Charlie Horse is a personal film diary by actor Martyn Sanderson showing the breaking-in and training of a young colt in rural Hawke's Bay. It was made when Sanderson was a vital part of the gang of Blerta creatives who based themselves at Waimarama Beach in the 1970s. Some stunning ‘wild horses' imagery is captured (shot by Sanderson and cinematographer Alun Bollinger) and narration is intriguingly provided from audience comments recorded at a local screening of the footage. It features music by Blerta members Bruno Lawrence, Chris Seresin and Patrick Bleakley." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen New Wave Goodbye

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Pop ; Music Video

    "This infectious clip marks one of the few local music videos to have been made independently of state TV in the 70s. Spats toured their eclectic brand of music from Blerta's old bus, before finding fame by morphing into The Crocodiles. In this track vocalist Fane Flaws demonstrates a TV screen can make a valid performance tool, the band demonstrate their moves, and regular Spats accomplices Limbs Dance Company add some fun moves of their own. The video was directed by Geoff Murphy, with help from Spats. 'New Wave Goodbye' ended up on Crocodiles album Tears." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Hurry Hurry Faster Faster

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Comedy ; Horror ; Short Film

    "Before the Blerta bus and the famous yellow mini hit the road, some friends with more energy than cash dressed up as mad doctors and scarfie crims, and began making movies. This freeform short about running late is an early product of a group of schemers who were key in the Kiwi film renaissance (Geoff Murphy is a man in a hurry and Bruno is 'Dr Brunowski'). Originally screened with live music, here it’s jazzed up with a 2012 soundtrack led by Murphy on vocals; the result is an unbottling of sheer youthful filmmaking pep. Warning: final credits not to be trusted." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Numero Bruno

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Documentary ; Captioned ; Music ; Television

    "Numero Bruno is a warts and all biography of widely popular actor, musician and counter-cultural hero Bruno Lawrence. Lawrence's intense, charismatic screen presence was key to ground-breaking Kiwi films, Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Directed by Steve La Hood (the veteran director’s TV swansong), this documentary features interviews with family and friends, and liberal excerpts from Lawrence's film and musical work, including performances by 70s alternative Aotearoa icons Blerta and clips showcasing his seminal collaborations with Geoff Murphy." (NZ On Screen summary)

  • View on NZ On Screen Tales of Mystery and Imagination

    Source: NZ On Screen

    Resource type: Music ; Arts/Culture ; Film

    "Edgar Allen Poe's tales of murder, burial, and ominous ravens have inspired movies, nightmares ... and an eclectic musical suite by saxophonist Lucien Johnson, which he first performed live with Wellington’s Village of the Idiots. With the aid of some home-cooked CGI, director Geoff Murphy mixes concert footage, fantastical imagery, interviews and spoken word to put it on screen. Family and friends help round out the crew. The results echo Murphy's early, genre-stretching days with ensemble Blerta, this time with themes of mortality mixing in with the horns." (NZ On Screen summary)


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