Friday, June 4, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

Blue Cheer (reissue)
Vincebus Eruptum

Philips/Sundazed LP 5297 LP

Produced by: Abe "Voco" Kesh
Engineered by: John MacQuarrie
Mixed by: N/A
Mastered by: Bob Irwin (LP cut by "u")

Review by: Michael Fremer

The Bay area based Blue Cheer issued this raw blues-psych record that runs a little more than a half an hour on the Philips label back in January of 1968.

It combines “heavy” drumming, oozy feedback drenched guitar and an amateur vibe both musically and sonically that may sound like a big nothing now, but it set many a young musician to thinking about “heavy” and “metal” and even "grunge" before the words were applied to what these guys were doing. No doubt Leslie Weinstein had this record (and of course Cream albums) spinning on his turntable as he contemplated forming Mountain.
The band stayed together with many lineup changes until the death in October, 2009 of bassist Dickie Peterson a few months before Sundazed reissued this absolutely dreadful sounding recording in its original “listening through a long pipe” mono mix. Not blaming Sundazed, mind you, it’s what the tape obviously sounded like.

The distantly miked drums are overwhelmed with distortion, the bass is blobby and the vocals seem to be emerging from a garbage can— all of which give the production a primitive charm.

Adding to that charm is a frenzied cover of Mose Allison’s famous prison song “Parchman Farm” (named for Mississippi’s oldest high security men’s only penitentiary) that the group misnames “Parchment Farm.” Other than that cover and a really good one of “Summertime Blues” that precedes by two years The Who’s similar sounding cover recorded live at Leeds, the rest are Peterson originals.

With the short psychedelic “notes” by LSD king Augustus Stanley Owsley III it’s obvious what Dickie Peterson’s classic “Doctor Please” was about.
There are Cream-like allusions mixed in with the “heavy” elements that give rise to the notion that these guys created the musical precursor to “heavy metal,” but you could just as easily argue that Cream provided the raw materials for that too.

In any case, Sundazed has done its usual good job giving you what’s on the tape, which in this case is not much that one would consider high fidelity, but it sounds about right for the raw material. Sundazed recreates the original embossed raised letter jacket and for some reason includes a post card showing the master tape of the band’s second album Outsideinside along with images of the white label promo single “Feathers From Your Tree”/”Sun Cycle.”

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by Permission