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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Blue Cheer - 1984 The Beast Is.. Back
 
Blue Cheer - 1984 The Beast Is.. Back



ARTIST: Blue Cheer
ALBUM: The Beast Is.. Back
LABEL: Megaforce
SERIAL: MRI 1069
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 1996, Bulletproof (UK), CDMVEST 72

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Dickie Peterson - vocals, bass * Tony Ranier - guitar * Paul Whaley - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Nightmares * 02 Summertime Blues * 03 Ride With Me * 04 Girl Next Door * 05 Babylon * 06 Heart Of The City * 07 Out Of Focus * 08 Parchment Farm


Background
As one of the most famous names associated with the creation of heavy metal in the late 60's, Blue Cheer certainly came full circle when they released this comeback album in 1984. This album was the bands first since 1971's 'Oh! Pleasant Hope', an album that was a definite lessening in heaviness from the likes of 'Vincebus Eruptum' and 'Outsideinside'. Both Peterson and Whaley returned from the original lineup, giving this version a credibility that was sorely required. What wasn't required perhaps were four reworked versions of early Blue Cheer classics, but I suppose they needed a selling point. Truth be told any burned out late 60's survivor would probably have trouble accepting this album as what might be considered 'true' Blue Cheer; produced by The Rods drummer Carl Canedy, this album is a virtual replica of The Rods themselves, to the point their name should be on the album cover, not Blue Cheer.


The Songs
That doesn't mean this isn't a worthwhile exercise in heavy metal, seeing as the band practically invented the art form for U.S. bands. But it is staggering just how much this comes off as a Rods copy, to be expected with Canedy behind the controls. The band revisits four 1968 classics with new versions of 'Parchment Farm', 'Babylon', 'Out Of Focus' and another take on 'Summertime Blues' (which in all honesty The Who owned as far as covers go). With the updated production techniques of the day they sound remarkably fresh and could almost be mistaken for new tracks if you didn't know the difference. What makes these sound new is the guitar work of Ranier, firmly steeped in mid 80's metal bluster. 'Parchment Farm' sounds the most inspired, the tempo sped up a notch with galloping riffs giving it a new identity. Aside from this there are only four new tracks, all of which are streetwise metal of the macho variety as pioneered on The Rods classic 1981 debut. 'Nightmare' throws some tough riffs into the mix along with a credible melodic hook. Is this really Peterson or David Feinstein on vocals though? 'Ride With Me' features more of the same, a whirlwind of sprawling guitars, heavy as hell, but hardly identifiable with classic Blue Cheer. It's hard to top the savage strains of 'Girl Next Door', the kind of metal you might identify with leather clad hoodlums cruising the streets of mid 80's New York. It has that working class edge that again The Rods or even Anvil possessed in great quantities. 'Heart Of The City' is another winner, especially the final minute where the band explodes in a thrash crescendo. This noise is enough to wipe the floor with supposed metal kings of the day like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc. Clearly Canedy had a big influence on the bands direction and it was a well advised one.


In Summary
What a shame the band opted for the half old, half new selection of tracks. It gives it almost an E.P. like quality. The album certainly did a good job of making the band relevant again in metal circles and they still had the chops to compete with acts barely in their teens at the time of their 1967 debut. Some might see this as pandering to the metal scene as it existed in 1984, but Blue Cheer had to move with the times no doubt. Make no mistake; the four new tracks are the highlight here. Nothing could ever beat the original versions for raw appeal, even updated. It was a fine return for certified legends that plundered away until Peterson's sad death in 2009.


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Comments
#1 | Eric on November 14 2012 01:48:16
Totally agree, not really Blue Cheer but I was never big on the original Blue Cheer's big dumb over-amped hard rock either. I did like Leigh Stephen's 1969 solo LP 'Red Weather' which is worth a spin or three.
#2 | gdazegod on February 19 2016 00:30:24
I really like this album. I picked up all of Blue Cheer's discography not long ago, and I'm wading myself through it. The Rods comparison is a good one.
 
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