Thursday, February 7, 2008

BLUE CHEER - Tokyo and Osaka, Japan 1999

I dragged my ass to see Blue Cheer at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood a couple of nights ago. I was curious to hear a band some argue are the true originators of heavy metal – pre-Sabbath, pre-Zeppelin, pre-Deep Purple, pre-Steppenwolf – as well as one of rock's original power trios, post-Cream and Hendrix Experience.

Two words: fockin' gnarly as fockin' fock. Is that five words? Well, it’s my blog, and the f-word is allowed here once in a blue moon.

Original Blue Cheer guitarist Leigh Stephens got the boot back in 1969, after Vincebus Eruptum and Outsideinside, their first two and best albums. But original drummer Paul Whaley and vocalist-bassist Dickie Peterson are still hard at it, touring clubs as I write this (they play hometown San Francisco tonight.) Peterson’s gear-grinding voice is fuglier than ever; he looks like an evil little MetalliMuppet and sounds like a redneck Wolfman Jack on crack (and smack, and crank.)

The heavy lineup on this February 1999 show is the same one I saw, with Andrew "Duck" MacDonald ripping it on the axe. MacDonald first joined about 20 years ago, then left, then re-upped in '99 for good. The only drawback here is a couple of generic, '80s-sounding metal numbers they've since left behind; you’ll probably want to drop "Down and Dirty" from the set. (Hey, the '80s were tough on everyone.) Based on the show I caught, their brand-new material is far preferable, especially the ass-smokin' dope tune "Rollin' Dem Bones." The rest is all killer kutz from the two aforementioned proto-stoner-sludge-metal masterpieces.

This show is solid soundboard quality – it was officially released for a brief time, in fact – but the needle is jammed deep into the red zone the whole way, which suits Blue Cheer just fine. This one you may actually want to turn down a bit…legend has it they were the first American band to use Marshall amps, and they weren't called the Loudest Band on Earth for nothin'. Dig it, scooter tramps!

BLUE CHEER Live in Japan
Tokyo and Osaka, Japan - February 11 and 13, 1999 (SBD)


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