Bali High — Original Soundtrack

I jumped at the chance to travel to a place of rolling waves and white sands after the winter I and most of America (the world?) had to put up with—alright Californians, you did get an extra helping of sunshine, but still, water is serving up it’s own special problems for you. It didn’t even require getting on a plane, but instead invited me to suspend the outside world for a bit and get totally tubular with the re-release of the original soundtrack from Bali High. Anthology Recordings is putting it out in June as part of its ongoing Anthology Surf Archive, just in time for anyone who needs to be reminded of what the earth looked like before global warming. But I don’t mean to harsh your buzz, people. Instead I hope the sights and sounds do what they did for me, which was to incite nostalgia for puka shell necklaces, Chemin de Fer jeans, and other things I either can’t discuss or can’t remember anything about (except Ted Nugent). The video is beyond time-capsule amazing from a real-live surfer boy wearing a sarong and spotting a wave to what I’m fairly certain are a bowl of magic mushrooms about to be sampled.

The film, directed by Stephen Spaulding and released in 1981, was an underground classic capturing a raw non-touristed Bali circa 1977. He followed shots of uncrowded tubes (that’s basically the inside of a wave for you gringos), dancing boys and women, and even an amazing rainbow. The whole film covers three years of his wave chasing adventures from Indonesia to Kauai, and includes film of legendary surfers Rick Rasmussen, Peter McCabe, Tommy Carroll and Larry Blair.

Surf movies of old had liberally pulled from the music collections of whoever was putting them together, but as Bali High became more widely distributed (read: popular=record company licensing), Spaulding enlisted Kauai based musician and producer Michael Sena who wrote an original score with a crazy range of sounds that cover folk, jazz fusion, rock, disco and other styles that remind me of my SoCal upbringing and make me sad I dumped all my record albums before moving out East. This re-release crisps up the audio without losing any of the ambiance, such a good thing! Watching this clip and grooving to the soundtrack brought me so much joy that I had to squelch the urge to light a bonfire and dance around it barefoot. Given the fact that a fire escape is no place to build a bonfire, I was just happy to take this trip down memory lane, where, naturally, I’m chillin’ in my VW van with a longboard strapped to the top. Chaka, dudes.