Friday Full-Length: Various Artists, Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The enduring legacy of Blue Cheer — who did no less than shepherd the transition between the ’60s rock and the heavy ’70s, setting a significant blueprint for the latter in terms of tone and bluesy approach — need not be recounted here. Along with the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and others who took a more volatile turn on the era’s psychedelia and volume push, they were a pivotal act and the work they did in their original run from 1966-1972, as well as in various periods thereafter, continues to resonate, with 1968’s Vincebus Eruptum and 1969’s OutsideInside (discussed here) rightly considered landmarks in the aforementioned temporal and stylistic shift. In a word, they were “important.” They mattered.

There have been plenty of Blue Cheer covers along the way, from artists across the globe, but as regards tribute albums, 1999’s Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer (also discussed here) stands in singular testament to the band’s affect on underground heavy rock and roll and doom. Issued by Italy’s Black Widow Records, it was 16 songs from 15 separate artists, totaling about 78 minutes of material with the following tracklisting:

Various Artists Blue Explosion A Tribute to Blue Cheer1. Pentagram, “Doctor Please”
2. Internal Void, “Parchment Farm”
3. Hogwash, “Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger”
4. Thumlock, “Out of Focus”
5. Natas, “Ride with Me”
6. Fireball Ministry, “Fortunes”
7. Norrsken, “Pilot”
8. Garybaldi, “Fresh Fruit & Iceburgs”
9. Rise and Shine, “Sun Cycle”
10. Wicked Minds, “Just a Little Bit”
11. Standarte, “Sandwich”
12. Space Probe Taurus, “Second Time Around”
13. Drag Pack, “Come and Get It”
14. Vortice Cremisi, “I’m the Light”
15. Ufomammut, “Peace of Mind”
16. Pentagram, “Feathers From Your Tree”

Obviously a few immediate standout names in there. First (and last) is Pentagram, who open and close the proceedings with “Doctor Please” and “Feathers From Your Tree” — two choice cuts as regards the Blue Cheer catalog. It ain’t “Summertime Blues,” which is probably Blue Cheer‘s most known single, but you’ll notice no one takes that on, and that seems like a purposeful decision on the part of the label in terms of staying away from the obvious move. Either way, as regards Pentagram, it’s important to consider the timing. This isn’t Pentagram in 1985 or even in 2009. Victor Griffin is nowhere to be found. This is many years before Sean “Pellet” Pelletier would take over as frontman Bobby Liebling‘s manager/caretaker, and despite the best and noble efforts of Joe Hasselvander handling drums, guitar and bass, Liebling sounds like a human being in the throes of a well-documented heroin addiction. Pentagram were signed to Black Widow at the time, and in 1999 they issued Review Your Choices, which was followed in 2001 by Sub-Basement, and if you know those records, they sound like rough years. You can hear that here too.

Highlights, however, include early-Ufomammut‘s psychedelic rendition of “Peace of Mind,” Internal Void paying simultaneous tribute to Blue Cheer and Cactus with “Parchment Farm,” the shimmering proto-proto-metal of Sweden’s Norrsken — the predecessor that birthed both Witchcraft and Graveyard — doing “Pilot” from 1970’s The Original Human Being, Fireball Ministry‘s “Fortunes” and Rise and Shine‘s “Sun Cycle.” Add to that list Argentina’s Natas, who would soon enough be known as Los Natas, doing a rare song in English with “Ride with Me,” since as far as I’m concerned the guitar tone there is worth whatever price of admission the secondary market might be charging for the disc. If you ever question why I’ll listen to anything Sergio Ch. ever puts out, ever, ever, ever and forever, just listen to that guitar and you’ll have your answer as to how that loyalty was earned.

Further, the fuzz blast of Wicked Minds‘ “Just a Little Bit” and the rawness of Drag Pack‘s “Come and Get It” offer good times to fill out the second half of the disc. These, along with the ’90s post-grunge doom roll of Vortice Cremisi‘s “I’m the Light” and the sure tone of Thumlock earlier on, mean that more than just the bigger names on Blue Explosion have something to offer. There’s a lot to dig, and yeah, some of it is pretty uneven in terms of relative volume and production-style changes from one band to the next — going from Wicked Minds to Standarte is notable, as is Thumlock to Natas, but if you take it as a collection of artists coming together on their own terms to celebrate the legacy of one of heavy rock and roll’s formative acts — i.e., if you take it for what it is — Blue Explosion is both a solid listen and worthy mission.

In my mind, it’s always paired with the 1999 Freedoom Records tribute to Trouble, Bastards Will Pay (discussed here), which I bought around the same time, and which also features Rise and Shine and Norrsken. The latter of course are of particular note because of the paucity of material they actually released — a few demos between 1996 and 1997 and a single in 1999 — and the legacy they cast across Sweden and the rest of Europe in the members’ igniting the continent’s vintage-rock movement. That is an influence that continues to spread, and while Blue Explosion might feature still-active and still-influential bands like Pentagram and Ufomammut and Fireball Ministry, as well as others, the opportunity to chase down output from Norrsken is itself an appeal for the disc as a whole.

I was fortunate enough to see Blue Cheer on what would be their final run as they supported their 2007 release, What Doesn’t Kill You…, which was the same era captured on their 2009 DVD Rocks Europe (review here) — I think the Rockpalast performance is on YouTube at this point, but get the DVD for the bonus interviews with Dickie Peterson, as his stories about Janis Joplin and Grateful Dead are nothing short of amazing — and though of course it wouldn’t have been the same as seeing them some 40 years earlier, it was a chance to relish in and pay homage to the legacy of a crucial band. They were, I can say without reservation, loud as hell. Everything The Rolling Stones were never brave enough to do more than hint at being.

Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer isn’t the same kind of experience, of course, but it’s the same impulse, paying homage to the legacy. Whether you dig in for the academic appeal, curiosity, or just to hear some unfamiliar takes on familiar riffs, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Xmas wasn’t bad. The Pecan learned the word “presents” and how to open same, and he liked the stuffed Pete the Cat and Little Blue Truck and various other such and sundry things — mostly trucks — we and others in my and The Patient Mrs.’ respective family branches got him, so that’s a win. Dude has plenty, plenty, plenty to keep him occupied. The Patient Mrs.’ sister and mother, as well as our niece and nephew on that side, stayed an extra day as well, and my sister’s oldest son came back yesterday to play video games — ace call on my part to tell the CT branch of the family to bring the Nintendo Switch — and my mother, sister, her husband and other nephew came over last night for pizza and leftovers, and it was great having everyone around. There’s a room in this house — the room I’m in now, as it happens — that’s pretty much made for hosting, and I like hosting. And I think The Patient Mrs. does too. So it works out. I dread the holidays. I really do. Got off relatively light, and got a new coffee grinder and mug to boot. So yeah.

New Year’s is next, which means nothing to me except getting used to writing 2020 instead of 2019, which usually takes at least a month, then The Patient Mrs. is going away to a conference in Puerto Rico for a couple days in January — though she’ll be working, I suspect she’ll find the relative change in climate somewhat restorative; at least that’s my hope — and I’ll be on solo duty with Pecan: Toddlerian. Dude and I spent plenty of days on our own this semester as his mom settled into her new job, so I’m not really nervous about it or anything. I’ll be tired. Big change.

I’m gonna punch out in a minute, but a couple quick things:

— The Quarterly Review was originally going to be next week. I’m pushing it back a week. It’ll start Jan. 6.

— The Best of the 2010s poll is being extended for a week. I want to give it more time beyond the Best of 2019 poll.

— There may be a new Gimme Radio show next Friday? I’m not sure yet.

— Going to see Clutch at Starland Ballroom on Monday. That’ll be good.

Thanks for your support in the Best of 2019, Song of the Decade and Album of the Decade posts this week. You warmed my heart, really, and I promise you, promise you, promise you, I don’t take that support for granted. Thank you.

Hope everyone who celebrated Xmas had a good ‘un, and if New Year’s is a party for you, have fun and please be safe. If you need a ride, get one.

FRM: Forum, Radio, Merch at MiBK.

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Desert Wizards Post “The Man Who Rode Time” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

desert wizards

Italian four-piece Desert Wizards are gearing up to release their third full-length, Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom, this July through long-running nuance-purveyors Black Widow Records, and while the band’s name and album title might both lead one to expect a heavy psychedelic or stoner rock vibe, the graceful keyboard work, slow progressive drift and purposeful clarity of production in “The Man Who Rode Time” would seem to argue otherwise. The song, for which the Ravenna outfit have a brand new video that you can watch below, is the first audio to come from Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom, and particularly in light of the clip, it carries a surprisingly melancholic overtone.

Taken in comparison to Desert Wizards‘ second outing, Ravens, which was issued in 2013, and they would seem to have moved away from some of the former psychedelic influence under which they were working, but to listen to a song like “Burn into the Sky,” with its subtly doomed riffing, and then put on “The Man Who Rode Time,” one would almost think it was two different bands. Whether that’s a conscious creative leap or a happenstance of progression, and just how much “The Man Who Rode Time” might represent the entirety of Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom, I don’t know, but with the video’s cinematic, drama-fueled feel and clear narrative of depressive frustration, there’s clearly more at work from Desert Wizards than genre conventionalism and a lengthy album name.

Info, and especially info in English, about the forthcoming long-player is pretty sparse, but you can watch the video for “The Man Who Rode Time” below, and everything I’ve seen about Beyond the Gates of the Cosmic Kingdom points to a summer release, should you want to keep an eye out.

Either way, please enjoy:

Desert Wizards, “The Man Who Rode Time” official video

From the album ” Beyond The Gates Of The Cosmic Kingdom” out on Black Widow Records.

Desert Wizards are:
Marco Mambelli: Vox/Bass/Synth
Marco Goti: Guitars
Anna Fabbri: Organ/Vox
Silvio Dalla Valle: Drums

Desert Wizards on Thee Facebooks

Desert Wizards on Bandcamp

Black Widow Records website

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Doomraiser Unveil New Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

There might be bands for whom switching out a guitarist or two is no big deal, but for the kind of doom-for-doomers that Italian drunkards Doomraiser proffer, it’s a considerable change. With Giulio and Montagna in tow, Doomraiser will unveil what they’re calling “Drunken Mark III” at a series of shows starting this weekend in Rome. 

Doomraiser‘s latest release is a 2013 split with Caronte on BloodRock Records, and their last full-length, Mountains of Madness, came out in 2011 through Black Widow Records, unrepentantly basking in classic Sabbathian riffage and heavy downer grooves.

Extra ultra doomy PR wire info and the title-track of that album follow here, just in case you needed a little doom to get you through the rest of your day as we all do from time to time (like all the time):

DOOMRAISER announce LINE-UP CHANGE

DOOMRAISER announce the Drunken Mark III line-up. The Italian doom metal band is glad to introduce the new twin axes Giulio and Montagna. The guys come from experiences in bands such as VII Arcano, Nerodia and Cielo Drive. Giulio and Montagna will be officially introduced during the next 3 live gigs of the band: Friday October 11 at the Hardsounds Festival 2013 (the event will celebrate the first 10 years of activity for the webzine); Friday October 25 at Freakout Club in Bologna; Saturday October 26 at Lo-Fi Club in Milan for the festival “Macigni” (together with Monumental and Satori Junk).

Doomraiser send an enormous hug to Drugo and Willer for their contribution and efforts in these years of shows, recordings, rehearsals, fun, hangout, drinking and eating. You are still part of the Doomraiser family.

DOOM ON!

Drunken Mark III line-up (L-R):

MONTAGNA – guitar
BJ – bass
PINNA – drums
CYNAR – vocals/synth
GIULIO – guitar

www.facebook.com/doomraiser

Doomraiser, “Mountains of Madness” from Mountains of Madness (2011)

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