Few knew what to make of Blue Cheer when they released Vincebus Eruptum in 1968 and their outrageously electric cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” climbed into the Top 20. Amidst a music scene that had grown louder and harder in the aftermath of the Summer of Love, Blue Cheer was harder and louder than anything around them. They took rock music to 12, pasting together the hardest, loudest bits you might have heard from The Who or Jimi Hendrix into a sustained scrum of growling, feedback-heavy guitar, thumping bass, pounding drums and howling vocals. Many listeners simply didn’t know what to make of this new sound, but by album’s end, which included a weighty cover of Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm,” it was clear that this power trio was launching something completely new.
The group waxed and waned for the next forty years, sustaining innumerable lineup changes, but mostly retaining its thunderous rhythm section of founding bassist-vocalist Dickie Peterson and early drummer Paul Whaley. Peterson provided the group’s foundation through thick and thin, dropping out only very briefly in 1975, and it was Peterson and Whaley, along with guitarist Andrew “Duck” Peterson, who recorded this 2008 live set for the German television show Rockpalast. This lineup had been together off and on since MacDonald joined the band in 1988, and had been playing together steadily since 1999. Peterson passed away the year after this set was recorded, but as this recording shows, the band retained their pummeling sound to the end, and the rasp in Peterson’s voice added patina to their heavy psych-blues.
The eighty-three minute concert features many of Blue Cheer’s touchstones, including “Summertime Blues,” its flipside “Out of Focus,” Allison’s “Parchman Farm,” and a rendition of “Doctor Please” that stretches the eight-minute original into a twenty-five minute odyssey. The set list also includes three titles (“Babylon,” “Just a Little Bit” and a cover of Albert King’s “The Hunter”) from the band’s second album, Outsideinside, and two (“Rollin’ Dem Bones” and “I’m Gonna Get to You”) from the trio’s 2007 release, What Doesn’t Kill You. Rainman’s 2013 CD issue of this concert replicates the soundtrack of the 2009 DVD, and includes the DVD’s bonus studio track “Alligator Boots” along with the previously unreleased “She’s Something Else.” [©2013 Hyperbolium]