|"it's hard to read psychedelic lettering with my bi-focals"|
Great visionaries are never appreciated in their time. Jesus wasn’t appreciated properly ‘till long after his death (if he ever existed at all), and it is my sincere belief that Blue Cheer will come to be regarded as the greatest purveyors of proto-metal at the height of the love generation when everyone should have been manufacturing Airplane knock-offs. They were churning out some of the most viscerally pleasing mung ever to grace the ear-holes of those overburdened with good taste. Sometime, hopefully in the near future, when people start actually listening to all rock and roll has to teach us, we’ll have a revolution and drag out all the dopers and greed-heads and land-rapers and creeps from their offices of power into the street and have them shot. We’ll dance in the streets that day to, to some ungodly awesome rock and roll no doubt. The new society, forged on the rock and roll teachings of peace, love, acceptance, joy above work, noise above anything and amplifier worship, will enlist scholars to look back through rock and roll, to categorise it and they will ask “from whence sprang our current wah obsession? Who were these instrumentally important Melvins cats digging off of? All that Sabbath riffery must have some illegitimate father.” Let me save you all the legwork boys (although the amount of great music you’ll hear on the way, you might not want me to) Blue Cheer. Blue Cheer have already featured here and I can’t really praise them enough. Accurately described at the time as “sub sub sub sub Hendrix”, Lester Bangs intended that compliment as an insult, didn’t realise that the whole of the next fifty years of heavy metal is taking Hendrix and melting him down for use as whatever you might want. Really though the essential Blue Cheer all emerged between July and October 1968, in the San Fran acid wave, there are awesome aftershocks, some even featuring Randy Holden, but once you’ve heard Vincebus Eruptum and the first side of Outsideinside you’ve bought the ticket and taken the ride.
You’ll forgive this on my 99th column? I’ve got something special(ly boring) for number hundert so just sit tight through an odyssey of worship of all things wah, mung, and yawp. Because I only just acquired the Blue Explosion tribute to Blue Cheer, in which the latest and greatest (for year two-thou) got together and gave us a sixteen track, over an hour anthology where they’d all been switched to cheer. Bookended by quality latterday Pentagram covers of Doctor Please and Feathers From Your Tree which are probably the most faithful on the album too, though older Bobby Leibling doesn’t really have the pipes to give it all Dickie Peterson gave it in the mid-sixties. Blue Cheer always were a headstrong and hopelessly amplified and out-of-tune and schizophrenically oriented celebration of rock and roll primitivism and proto-metal machismo, and this collection keeps that spirit alive. Surprise highlight’s include Vortice Cremisi’s cover of I’m the Light and Natas’ cover of Ride With Me, both of which prove dead right what I’ve been saying all this time, Blue Cheer are gonna filter down into the national awareness because their songs were sixty years ahead of their time. It’s taken us this long to get down to the sort of basal Marshall worship the Cheer indulged in on every song. We need this hard crusted layer of what was once freshly caked mung worship and the heroes to stand on top of the amps to teach the greed heads and the land rapers and the losers and the bread heads that interstellar travellers who stop here heartbreakingly briefly just to deliver their message of deafening love are to be worshipped more than the Judeochristian ‘God’ or money. These guys have got it going on and there can be no mistaking this kind of single-minded sonic mastery, they are the audio augurers, the electrical enchanters, the mung magus, the sonic shaman.
|The original Blue Cheer, "we overcome by spewing forth".|
It’s a reverent tribute, and a faithful one. Few of the bands really try to bring anything new to the table, for the most part they’re trying on their best Cheer impressions and it comes off slightly less stunning than the originals. That kind of wattage is reigned in now, controlled to an extent, back in the Cheer’s day the sort of ultrahigh wattage and rampant distortion were quite literally outta control. Unconfirmed reports say that a dog sitting on an Blue Cheer amp literally exploded during a set. But I clearly like Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer or I wouldn’t’a drooled in yer earhole for about 800 words on the subject and mean to go on further. I love it precisely because it ain’t as good as the original recordings (half of which were covers anyhoo), it reminds me how uniquely righteous those original songs are, ‘specially the first album and a half, just exponential good vibe-burstin’ genius bleeding massive wattage however tiny the stereo. Breaking sonic barriers at least as often as burst eardrums, requiring only high explosives and close air support to complete the aural spectrum of the Siege of Khe Sanh; the flurry and fury of psychedelia and electric genius that can be heard thrumming and drumming and strumming all the way through modern metal, rock and roll and blues like a main circuit cable; A main circuit cable plugged right into a sun-obscuring stack of amps tentatively turned right up and fizzing with pre-gig energy. It’s a new dawn! Good morning people!
Written under duress by Steven.