Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blue Cheer-VINCEBUS ERUPTUM CD (Mercury)

Yeah, you could say that I am a little bit miffed that the camera wasn't turned on (neither was the sound!) for last night's Blue Cheer/Black Hollies show at CBGB, though that exactly ain't the first time someone "forgot" to turn on the blasted thing...I remember being really gung ho for a CBGB performance by a one-off grouping calling themselves "the Dopes" consisting of James Chance, Walter Steding, Billy Ficca and someoneorother back in '00 only to find out that they weren't cybercasting that night and as far as I can tell nobody even hadda smarts to sneak a recorder into the dive and bootleg it for all posterity! Maybe someone had the nerve to tape or whatever they do these days the Blue Cheer set and we can only hope that alla these final day gigs at CB's (or at least the hot ones) will be or have been recorded and preserved so's that anal-retentive obsessives like myself will have eons of great jamz to osmose to from now to eternity which would be a trip, especially since kicks certainly are getting harder to find as the entire music industry/scene sinks into a deeper chasm to the point where frankly it ain't even worth DEFENDING anymore.

At least I have this Cee-Dee to console myself with. Yeah, none other'n Blue Cheer's very first one from back in the opening days of '68, a platter so base and illiterate in its production and performance that a strong case can be made that this 'un really separated the intellect-o's from the brain-dead in just about every high school across the fruity plain. (And, in case you're puzzled, the smart kids weren't listening to VINCEBUS ERUPTUM by any stretch of the imagination!) A stone gronker that even inspired future garage-revival icon Greg Prevost to stick these guys on the front cover of the first issue of his now-infamous FUTURE fanzine way back in February of 1977, and everyone KNOWS that Greg Prevost is the arbiter of a different sort of sixties taste than the usual peruser! Hey, even I can remember when I first gave a listen to Blue Cheer's mega-thud hit "Summertime Blues" sometime in '72/'73 on one of those then-unique oldies programs which scattered the "peculiar" offbeat tracks with the standard bearers, the dee-jay expressing bewilderment perhaps with a slight scoff at the blast he just played which must go to show you the effects of a brain after too many plays of "It's Summertime" by the Jamies! Let's face it, for many people (even commentators I do pay attention to) Blue Cheer were thee mental midget rock band of the late-sixties purely because they took the freakier elements of pyschedelic love and peace music and proceeded to ramjam the entire mess into one huge shaking ball of phlegm that it seemed just about any dope-addled teenogre could play after just a mere listen. (Of course the hype about their volume which alledgedly killed a dog who happened to wander into a Blue Cheer show seemed to help...funny, Jonathan Cott [in the tenth-anniversary edition of ROLLING STONE] said the same thing happed at a Red Krayola show!) And naturally, a very strong case can be made that VINCEBUS ERUPTUM was the kicker that helped pave the way for the heavy metal onslaught of the 1969-1972 seasons...even the Detroit proto-punk brand of heavy metal (which seemed like a totally different breed of animal even back then) owed a hefty thanks to Blue Cheer and while we're at it the likes of Sir Lord Baltimore, Dust and alla those Metal Mike Saunders bedroom jams should prostrate themselves in homage as well.

It's an amazing miasma created by the trio of Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens and Paul Whaley, from the opening chord mangle of "Blues" to the freeform fall end of "Second Time Around" and for a bunch who still haven't shaken off their garage band roots (not that they shoulda) it's amazing that an inward-turned power trio as raw and unpolished as this was even ALLOWED to come out and ruin the good vibe trips that seemed totally in-synch with the big commercialization of the hippie movement going on at the time. Of course the best San Francisco rock of the day was anything but sunshine and misty-goo...and Blue Cheer's "success" only showed to proved that, had San Francisco evolved into a different breed of radical osmosis akin to the Velvet Underground maybe more bands would've produced a wail like Cheer did, one which might have rivaled the Velvets for psychotic fury perhaps leading to a better rock & roll future for the whole lot of us.

Don't get bent outta shape that half the tracks here are covers...Blue Cheer breathe their own life into such classics as "Parchment Farm" ("And all I did was shoot my arm"!!!!!!) and "Rock Me Baby" (not forgetting the hit single) that they sound like they might as well be originals anyway! And though I could be a Christgau type and dock Blue Cheer a grade for releasing such a short album (only 32 mins.) I gotta say that they pack more power and energy into that brief timespan than most metal bands did in entire careers and they even did it without the trite and wheezing Robert Plant-inspired Janis yelps and that ought to count for something!

If you want more early Blue Cheer (and who with their rockism heads on straight doesn't?), check out Eddie Flowers and the vast array of Cheer-oriented Captain Trip CDs he sometimes has for sale (not right now---all but one're outta stock!) including the one taken from THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW (which unfortunately cuts out Allen's opening wizecracking and post-"Blues" audible shock at the group's volume) not to mention some '75 demos that were covered extensively in BACK DOOR MAN at the time. And while you're waiting, why not just catching the following clip from BEAT CLUB which I'm sure will sate your thirst while you're awaiting a package of Cheer which ought to be heading your way (given your natural ability to sniff out the good in rock & roll and separate it from the sham which YOU have undoubtedly proven merely by tuning into this blog!) any day now.


Anonymous said...

That was some group, one of the best I've ever seen! Me and Lmo sat right up front at the Fillmore East for their first gig there and were in shock! All the way down St. Marks St. after the show we were stoned just from the music!!!-Lou.

Anonymous said...

the "Summertime Blues" b/w "Out Of Focus" 45 stands a one the greatest 7"ers ever and a perfect distillation of the VE lp.........bob f.