Friday, January 20, 2017

Blue Cheer - 2005 - Live Bootleg- London - Hamburg

Blue Cheer 
Live Bootleg- London - Hamburg

01. Out Of Focus
02. Hoochi Coochi Man
03. Babylon
04. The Girl Next Door
05. Heart of the City
06. Doctor Please
07. Roadhouse Blues
08. Summertime Blues
09. Parchment Farm

Bass, Vocals – Dickie Peterson
Drums – Paul Whaley
Guitar – Andrew Duck MacDonald

When talks about "stoner rock" come up, one band that tends to get overlooked is Blue Cheer. While groups like Black Sabbath are always given props, the San Francisco band led by Dickie Peterson is usually left out in the cold, despite having scored one of the genre's earliest anthems, a turbo-charged rendition of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" (which was easily the heaviest song released in 1968). Since their late-'60s peak, the group has been off and on again, and by the early 21st century, they were rocking all over the world once more, as evidenced by 2005's Live Bootleg: London - Hamburg. While both Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath had blues roots, the former was more "garage-minded," while the latter was more "metal minded," and the point is proven once more by just about any selection here. Included are explosive (in an MC5 vein) renditions of such Blue Cheer classics as the aforementioned "Summertime Blues," "Out of Focus," and Mose Allison's "Parchment Farm," as well as a reading of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues." While it doesn't top what it probably would have been like to experience Blue Cheer at the Fillmore West back in the late '60s, Live Bootleg: London - Hamburg shows that Peterson and company can still lay down a sizzling groove.

Countless rock and roll journals have asserted that Blue Cheer is first and foremost a live band. In the words of Dickie Peterson, "You can listen to all the Blue Cheer records that we ever made but when you see us live it's different, because it's more a physical part of you. When you come to our concerts, you get a lot more than what's on the record."

Having had the good fortune of seeing Blue Cheer live at the recent Biker Rally in Laconia, NH, I can say that I agree dead-on with Dickie. So granted, when you listen to the newly released BOOTLEG: LIVE, you won't get the full decibel attack that you would at an actual show, unless perhaps you have twin Marshall stacks hooked up to your stereo. However . . . .

This CD definitely captures all the rawness, feedback, excitement, and intensity that the boys kick out during the course of their live set. I can safely assure you that this CD, combining highlights of two past shows from a few years back, is a great example of what Blue Cheer is really like live in concert, a feat many other live albums fail to achieve.

On first glance of the album's set list, many fans will notice that a lot of the tunes have already appeared on the two previous live albums in the Blue Cheer catalog. DO NOT draw the erroneous conclusion that this set is something you have already heard and DO NOT disservice yourself by passing it by! This is NOT the same live album already in your collection.

Blue Cheer's roots stem from the San Francisco scene of the mid-60s, and in the spirit of that era, they have always maintained the free-form "jamming" approach to playing their music. In concert, no song is ever played the same way twice and can often sound radically different from one show to another. Therefore, most cuts on this album-such as Doctor Please, Parchment Farm, and Heart of the City-display a fresh, new vitality and contain some of the best live jams previously unheard.

Of course, there's Summertime Blues; not the best version the band has ever played, but this is a Blue Cheer set and thus must be present nonetheless. An added surprise, alone worth the price of admission, is the band's first officially released, long-awaited cover of Roadhouse Blues.

BOOTLEG: LIVE is not just another typical Blue Cheer live album but rather one more piece of the legacy of Blue Cheer live albums. Listened to in the context of Blitzkrieg Over Nuremburg and Live In Japan, it will provide you with a fuller picture of Blue Cheer, the live band, and the ultimate testament to just how great they are in concert.

Ken Schneider

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