Zerra I

  • Zerra I
  • Zerra I (UK Mercury) 1985 
  • Zerra One
  • The Domino Effect (Mercury) 1986 

Todd Rundgren has said that, as a producer, he can make bands sound like anything they choose. Little doubt as to what this client asked for on their first album: they emulate a certain (far more talented) quartet of fellow Dubliners. (It’s a wonder the guitarist doesn’t call himself the Ledge or something.) Zerra I go for a big, bombastic sound (cf. Rundgren’s Meat Loaf album), with lyrics full of grandiose imagery. On “Tumbling Down,” singer Paul Bell majestically proclaims, “We see it, we hear it, we know, we say.” Problem: they don’t.

Presumably to overcome confusion as to whether their name is Zerra I or Zerra 1, they started spelling it out on The Domino Effect. A trio with revolving drummers (including Pete Thomas, the LP’s only real attraction), they offer up nine more anthems in the four-and-a-half-to-six-minute range, with Barry Blue providing even a bigger sound than Todd. Instead of the previous U2-style density, however, the approach is more crystalline, with lots of synths, a big guitar sound and female background vocals not unlike, say, the Psychedelic Furs. Once again, not one song sticks. Three strikes and you’re out, guys.

[David Sheridan]