Friday, January 20, 2017

Blue Cheer - 1968 - Outsideinside

Blue Cheer 

01. Feathers From Your Tree 3:29
02. Sun Cycle 4:12
03. Just A Little Bit 3:24
04. Gypsy Ball 2:57
05. Come And Get It 3:13
06. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction 5:07
07. The Hunter 4:22
08. Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger 1:38
09. Babylon 4:22

10. Fortunes 2:20

Bass, Vocals – Dick Peterson
Drums – Paul Whaley
Guitar – Leigh Stephens
Additional personnel
Ralph Burns Kellogg - keyboards, organ, reeds

'Outside' sessions recorded at Gate Five, Sausalito; Muir Beach, California; Pier 57, NYC.
'Inside' sessions recorded at A&R Studio, NYC; Olmstead Studios, NYC; Record Plant, NYC; and Pacific Recorders Inc., San Mateo, California.
Released by Philips Records in August 1968

The only raucous, LOUD and twisted exercise released in-between the advent of Hendrix and the ascension of The Stooges, side one of this wayward, careening and LSD-train wrecked album contains the most out of control power trio-ing EVER: easily dwarfing “Summertime Blues” as disjointed playing, shifting tempos and everything played so loud and so slow it fucking explodes all over the place like lighting a coffee can full of roman candles with a stream of flaming lighter fluid. Which is how I plan to spend every Fourth of July from now on: reveling in the glorious, howling fury that is “Outsideinside”, the second Blue Cheer album. What? I can’t hear you!! I said I just finished listening to “Outsideinside,” the second Blue Cheer album...!

Recorded live by Abe “Voco” Kesh with only scant overdubbing of odd piano fills and even more distorto-SG guitar, side one reveals Blue Cheer completely stretch and freak out on an acid-induced power-trip squeezing through unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse. Paul Whaley’s drums are fed through punishing amounts of phase akin to being locked tripping into an oil drum as it’s being pummeled repeatedly with sledgehammers. “Just A Little Bit,” the first of (unbelievably and unbelievable) THREE singles culled from this demented album, has everything panning at one time or another, as the drums are all whacked retardedly slow over the whole volume/pandemonium as it winds up with whistling feedback that hits cue even as the rest of Leigh Stephens’ over-recorded, over-amped, over-everything guitar channeling and Dickie Peterson’s bass grokk-outs head into hugely echoed drum fills that rocket out from the speakers. “Gypsy Ball” is a slow, plodding mass of wah-wah, smoking amps and more Paul Whaley over-recorded live drums phased into oblivion. “Come And Get It” is where Blue Cheer give it all, merge white light fever with canned heat blind fury into a speeding, burning, go-for-broke, pile driver that is a completely reckless, recorded-in-the-red absolute BLOW OUT. Paul Whaley’s playing faster than he ever did in real life, and Peterson’s bristling vocals and rambunctious bass are full throttle, cranking insanity as Stephen’s guitar barely navigates his mapped-out hairpin turns at top speed. Side two is by far less crazy, all of it burnt out forever on the other side. Two covers -- “Satisfaction” and “The Hunter” -- are run through almost casually, but I wish it were an album-sided version of the instrumental “Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger” instead. But in reality, it’s only a mere 1:58 and hardly enough to redeem the second side. But there’s a headful of graphics to melt all hard feelings towards a waste of a perfectly good album side: the cover. Or, should I say, the covers, because it’s a UNIPAK that folds out two ways into an two-sided “L” with amazing photos of San Francisco’s first power trio in action -- in concert behind a veritable CURTAIN of Marshall stacks, Paul Whaley’s arms caught mid-flail/trip trailing like wings. AND a shot of the extended Blue Cheer family of roughneck dopers superimposed in outer space. AND a solarised colour shot of the trio as painted freaks with scary, hallucinatory faces. AND the front cover sporting a crude and rude Dali-esque by Arab (an associate of Gut’s, the acid biker who designed the cover of the embossed beauty that was Blue Cheer’s debut, “Vincebus Eruptum.”) This would be Blue Cheer’s last album with guitarist Leigh Stephens. Which was rather unfortunate for later Blue Cheer albums lack the ornery, blast out qualities of this death-defying proto-metal blitzkrieg.

Blue Cheer's debut album, Vincebus Eruptum, was widely and accurately described as "the loudest record ever made" when it first appeared in early 1968, and the band seemingly had the good sense to realize that for sheer brutal impact, there was little chance they could top it. So for their second LP, Outsideinside (which appeared a mere seven months later), rather than aim for something bigger and more decibel intensive, Blue Cheer decided to see how much polish they could add to their formula without blunting the skull-crushing force of their live attack. While Vincebus Eruptum was cut in simple and straightforward form with minimal overdubs, Outsideinside found Blue Cheer embracing the possibilities of the recording studio; Leigh Stephens overdubbed multiple guitar parts on several tunes, while the mix sends his leads flying around the room, though aggressive use of panning and the monstrous, fuzzy growl of his tone gets cleaned up on some tunes (check out the wah-wah solos on "Gypsy Ball"), though the results are still as gentle as a chainsaw. The engineering is friendlier to Paul Whaley's drumming; his traps don't sound as much like trash cans on these sessions, though the crude, phase shifting on "Just a Little Bit" remains gloriously amateurish. And if Dickie Peterson's bass sounds just about the same, he got to spend more time on his vocals here, and his blustery howl communicates better this time. The opening cut, "Feathers from Your Tree," also added a piano to the mix (which is somehow audible through the dozens of amps), while "Babylon" is almost funky in its lead-footed approximation of an R&B groove, and "The Hunter" is a broad but playful exercise in sexual swagger that, if nothing else, provided a lyrical conceit Kiss could use to more profitable effect nine years later. But if Outsideinside is cleaner, tighter, and more ambitious than Vincebus Eruptum, it's still clearly the work of the same band, and Blue Cheer sound every bit as thunderous on their sophomore effort. If anything, this LP captures the psychedelic side of their musical personality with greater clarity than the blunt approach of the debut; Outsideinside doesn't sound trippy so much as righteously buzzed, and the speedy roar of this the music is big enough that the legend that parts of this were so loud they had to be recorded outside seems not just plausible, but perfectly reasonable.

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