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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blue Cheer: Blitzkrieg Over Nüremberg


1) Babylon; 2) Girl Next Door; 3) Ride With Me; 4) Just A Little Bit; 5) Summertime Blues; 6) Out Of Focus; 7) Doctor Please; 8) The Hunter; 9) Red House.

Blue Cheer never released a live album in their heyday, largely because the heyday turned out to be so short — by 1969, it was all over, and live albums, even for hard-rocking bands, were not yet seen as an obligatory part of one's portfolio back in 1968. «Better late than never», thought Peterson, and, four years into Blue Cheer's «comeback» as an odd hybrid of nostalgic late Sixties pothead rock and contemporary glam metal, decided to set up some professional recording equip­ment for the band's live show at the Rührersaal in Nüremberg, Germany (October 10, 1988). Whether the choice of a German audience was accidental or intentional (a special affinity for the country that gave us Accept and the Scorpions?) is not clear, but there is an obvious connection between the players and the fans, who do not even seem offended when told by Dickie about the planned title for the upcoming album. Nothing like a nice little Blitzkrieg for the Germans... oh, never mind. It does have a nice ring to it, though.

Once again, however, this particular «Blue Cheer» is just Dickie and his revolving door: no Paul Whaley and not even a Tony Rainier in sight. Instead, guitar duties are handled by Duck Mac­Donald, known mostly for always willing to lend a helping hand to defective reunions of old heavy rock bands with color-based names (in addition to Blue Cheer, he would also tour with Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult); the drummer, if anybody is interested, is Dave Salce, and he does a fairly decent job reproducing the percussive madness of Whaley, but his fills are less unpredictable and not so much all over the place.

The setlist continues the trend already set on The Beast: as the only original member to deter­mine what is properly Blue Cheer and what is not properly so, Dickie performs only songs from the first two BC albums and The Beast (but it is interesting that, out of the new material, he chooses Rainier's compositions rather than his own ʽNightmaresʼ). Which is understandable if you want to limit your live material to loud crunchy rockers, but even so, The Original Human Being is quite unjustly given the finger. There is also a tribute cover of Hendrix's ʽRed Houseʼ, done surprisingly close to the spirit of the original, even if MacDonald cannot restrain himself from throwing in some histrionic hair metal vibrato cliché every now and then.

The most memorable thing about the album, though, is arguably the small bits of stage banter delivered by Peterson — always sounding a little drunk, a little stoned, a little wasted, a little toothless, a little bit too old to rock'n'roll, but ultimately quite sympathetic: nice simple old guy with a bit of street wisdom tucked under his belt for good measure ("we're gonna do a song called ʽSummertime Bluesʼ... and believe me, there is no cure, I've been looking for twenty fucking years!"). He has a pretty hard time coping with vocal problems, particularly on fast numbers such as ʽGirl Next Doorʼ where he clearly lacks the necessary strength to muster the appropriate roar, but even if he did have laryngitis or something, on most of the classic numbers the gurgling in his throat only adds to the overall ragged punch of the material. And he certainly has no problems holding down all the basslines on which the tightness and general well-being of the songs depend from start to finish.

Throw in a good setlist, decent sound quality, and MacDonald's general willingness to play Se­venties-style rather than Eighties-style on the extended instrumental sections of ʽRide With Meʼ and ʽDoctor Pleaseʼ, and Blitzkrieg turns out to be much more enjoyable as could be expected on the average from such a setup. Thumbs up; heavily recommended for Blue Cheer fans and hard rock lovers in general.  

1 comment:

  1. No. As a biker band, they ain't Motorhead. And they don't have the chops to be a blues band like Ten Years After. As a metal band, forget it. Without the skills of Leigh Stephens, Blue Cheer = Dead Duck.