Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blue Cheer - Outsideinside

Identified as one of the loudest albums in rock history, but even that has an asterisk. The story goes that during the recording of Outsideinside, Blue Cheer was kicked out of the studio for being too loud. So, the band decided to record the remaining material on Pier 57 in New York, and even then, ships miles away could hear the racket.

Of course, none of this eardrum breaking sonic overdose is that prevalent on Outsideinside. What remains is a thick, viscous sludge.

Fans of garage rock, early heavy metal, psychedelic freakouts and headache-inducing stereo panning will be pleased with the mucky results. It is 36 minutes of lysergic bliss, bashed out by a trio of grubby bikers who asked members of the Hells Angels to coordinate the art direction. The resulting package is an enjoyable time capsule in which Dickie Peterson is perched on a mushroom with drummer Paul Whaley and guitarist Leigh Stephens also sporting wide smiles as 5 bikers bring weed to the power trio.

The novelty of the packaging, the recording sessions and the band’s unhinged personalities all pale when those first moments of fuzz hit. Outsideinside was the second album from Blue Cheer in 1968 and its predecessor Vincebus Eruptum is the release that tends to get higher recognition.

By record number two, Blue Cheer had undoubtedly logged a few highway miles and they sound a bit tighter on the final results. But I’ll be damned if I can hear any real intricate detail in this sludgefeast, and there are still plenty of moments where the band occasionally falls off the rails, giving the entire thing a sense of legitimacy.

Which is just another way of saying “It’s awesome.” With covers of The Stones “Satisfaction” and Albert Kings “The Hunter” put into the line-up as some kind of reference point-but it hardly matters: You can hear the tape catching speed at the beginning of “Satisfaction” while “The Hunter” starts of fairly innocuous before slipping into another acid casualty by the guitar solo.

How this record ever got made it a testament to the free spirit of the record industry at that time, where even a power trio of limited competencies with loud amplifiers could get signed.  The end result is a wonderful time capsule, a soundtrack to your scrambled eggs hangover and a perfect reminder that rock and roll music was once a dangerous place, performed at dangerous volumes and fueled by dangerous substances.


1 comment:

Tanned Heat said...

They have the vinyl re-issue of this at Record Collector. Full gatefold. You should buy it.