Blue Cheer


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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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