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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blue Cheer: Dining With The Sharks


1) Big Noise; 2) Outrider; 3) Sweet Child Of The Reeperbahn; 4) Gunfight; 5) Audio Whore; 6) Cut The Costs; 7) Sex Soldier; 8) When Two Spirits Touch; 9) Pull The Trigger; 10) Foxy Lady.

A rather prophetic title for an album, since, to the best of my knowledge, this is exactly what this particular LP, along with this particular incarnation of the band, is busy doing at the moment. By the early 1990s, «Blue Cheer» had completed their relocation to Germany, where their new sound unexpectedly found just a tad more acclaim than elsewhere — a fact that Peterson acknowledged and honored by not only hiring a German guitarist (Dieter Saller) to play on the record, but also by writing songs with titles like ʽSweet Child Of The Reeperbahnʼ. Which might or might not also contain an intentional nod to Guns N' Roses, but in general, the Peterson/Saller sound rather continues the «Accept-ization» of Blue Cheer's legacy begun on the previous album, much to the delight of all those sons of rowdy Hamburg sailors whose fathers, thirty years back, used to get equally aroused to the merry sounds of The Silver Beetles.

That said, even the least inspired Accept albums are still preferable to this tremendously boring piece of sludgy-muck. The only thing that could be briefly admired is Peterson's consistency of character — other than the acoustic / steel guitar-driven folk-blues of ʽWhen Two Spirits Touchʼ (still sounds dirty) there is not a single nod here towards «sentimentality», «softness», «depth of feeling», and whatever other silly qualities could distract The Beast from grinding its axe, strut­ting its stuff, rolling its dough, and porking its chops. The problem, however, is that The Beast got old, stupefied, and unadaptable to modern world conditions.

Everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. With Peterson, who has never shown signs of melodic genius, being credited for most of the songwriting, the majority of the riffs are clichéd reruns of The Hard Rock Textbook, with echoes of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and those German bands all over the place — in fact, some of that stuff has to be heard to be believed. If you did not think, for instance, that it was humanly possible to rip off the Kinks and ZZ Top on the exact same song, take a peek at ʽPull The Triggerʼ, whose verse riff copies ʽI Got The Sixʼ and whose chorus riff copies ʽ(Wish I Could Fly Like) Supermanʼ (and all the while the bass gui­tar keeps on playing the old pattern from ʽSummertime Bluesʼ!). This is just the most obvious example (to me), but I'm fairly sure most of the songs could be analyzed the same way.

To this one should add the exact same leaden guitar tone on each track, and the complete inabi­lity of the new German player to raise any interest in his solos — he just seems like a well-meaning kid with lots of reverence for Wolf Hoffmann, but no particular talent of his own, and maybe that is why his leads are usually mixed in so deep in the production, which makes the experience of listening to the whole album comparable to the experience of crossing a mile-long cesspool with a light, but constant electrical charge running through it. The dubious «delight» of having it all capped off with a similar-sounding cover of Jimi's ʽFoxy Ladyʼ is comparable to scooping out a piece of Turkish Delight at the end of the crossing — bon appetit.

Finally, as if that wasn't enough, Peterson must have been struck down with laryngitis on that particular day — his vocals were never a huge gift of Fortune, but here he sounds like a lite ver­sion of Motörhead's Lemmy and AC/DC's throat-problem-era Brian Johnson rolled in one: hoarse, gurgling, and completely unadapted for the «macho» spirit of his own compositions. Then again, given titles like ʽAudio Whoreʼ and ʽSex Soldierʼ, I guess it all fits, on some particularly depra­ved level, into the typical Reeperbahn aesthetics. But still, even something like ʽWhat Do You Do For Money Honeyʼ seems chic and stylish compared to this miserable sludge.

If this were at least «comically» bad, I could have found it in me to say a few kind words — but since it is «boringly bad», which is really the worst kind of bad there is, the final verdict is an as­serted thumbs down all the way; you'd have to be one of Peterson's groupies-for-life to enjoy this, I think, or a Hamburg slum native or something. As it is, just do yourself a favor and get an Accept record instead.

Check "Dining With The Sharks" (CD) on Amazon


  1. I had no idea Blue Cheer released so many albums. I thought they were a 2 or 3 album 60's band. As much as I like "Out of Focus", it'll be a lonely rainy day before I give most of these a listen.

    1. It's definitely for the best to treat Blue Cheer as a late entry into the 1960's garage band/Nuggets sweepstakes: 1 hit single, 1 resultant classic album, 1 failed (but still classic) follow up album, and *fade to black*.

    2. I think "Oh Pleasant Hope" is a pretty good album. Of course, it's useless if you're exclusively looking for quality hard-rock.
      But even then, Randy Holden's brief sojourn is a must-own.

    3. If they'd died in a plane crash after the second album they would have been legends.

  2. While this album clearly doesn't deserve your eloquence, I love that you compare listening to it to "the experience of crossing a mile-long cesspool with a light, but constant electrical charge running through it." Now that's vivid.