Lost Reviews of Joe Viglione


The Original Human Being opens with the driving “Good Times Are So Hard to Find,” a West Coast version of the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man” that generously lifts from that classic Jimmy Miller/Steve Winwood/Spencer Davis composition. Founding member Dickie Petersen is augmented by horns, of all things, on the blues-pop “Love of a Woman.” Blue Cheer sounding like Traffic and Tower of Power in two fell swoops is not what the menacing cover photo would indicate. Indeed, you can’t tell a book by its cover. Logically, Blue Cheer should have taught Black Sabbath a thing or two, but the band heads more in the direction of Ozzie’s Magic Lantern with its singsong hit “Shame Shame” than the grunge of guitarist Tony Iommi. Titles like “Preacher” and “Black Sun” may be better suited for Sabbath, but for fans of this ultra-cult band from the ’60s, 
The Original Human Being is a vast improvement over the band’s third outing, New! Improved! Blue Cheer. Keyboard player Ralph Kellogg’s “Make Me Laugh” sounds strained in the vocal department, but the band has its act together and the song works. Blue Cheer is so “on” that everything works here, including the instrumental and sole songwriting contribution by drummer/sitar player Norman Mayell. It is the sleeper surprise on this disc. How many listeners wanted to like George Harrison’s “The Inner Light”? “Babaji (Twilight Raga” is the blending of Ravi Shankar with pop that the Beatles sought but never found. Hidden here, the last track on side one of a Blue Cheer disc, is that magic formula. Really creative and fun stuff. “Pilot,” the first of guitarist Gary Yoder’s five co-writes with G.R. Grelecki, is innovative, cosmic, intellectual — just well-threaded rock ā€˜nā€™ roll. 
Blue Cheer was not adverse to changing membership on a frequent basis and trying different formats. If the lyrics on “Pilot” are deficient, the music is distinct and original…truly “the original human being.” Close to 46 minutes of music is a healthy 20-plus minutes per side, and where side one of New! Improved! Blue Cheer fell flat, just two discs later we find this album full of revelations. Of course, Petersen is the only holdover from the first two albums to appear on The Original Human Being, which says a lot about the experimentation of lineups. Blue Cheer was a musical version of a baseball team with players coming and going. Still, the groove of “Preacher” has sax weaving in and out, pre-Roxy Music and just as entertaining and enlightening. 
The production by Gary Yoder, Eric Albronda, and Norman Mayell is really fine. “Tears By My Bed” could be the Band, showing a complete shift in Peterson’s musical accomplices, crafting a series of albums worthy of study. The Original Human Being and Oh Pleasant Hope are the culmination of serious efforts by Dickie Peterson. The folksy guitar riff coupled with Yoder’s harp on “Man on the Run” makes for real ’60s period-piece paranoia, perfect for an episode of Route 66 or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. This album is also a good argument for modern rock radio adding classic songs that never got airplay the first time around. “Man on the Run” is everything so-called “modern rock” bands aspire to be. Two more Yoder/Grelecki compositions, the funky/sensual “Sandwich” and “Rest at Ease,” conclude this excellent portion of San Francisco rock, “Rest at Ease” with a descending fadeout that shows the band at the peak of its powers.  by Joe Viglione

Metal Priestess, The Plasmatics

This six song EP is even shorter when any {$Plasmatics} fan realizes
that the four new songs recorded by Svengali manager {$Rod Swenson} and
producer/engineer {$Dan Hartman} are augmented by live versions of two
songs from the previous 1981 release {^Beyond The Valley Of 1984}.
Guitarists {$Richie Stotts} and {$Wes Beech} set a solid crunchy tone
behind {$Wendy O} with
two new drummers – {$Tony Petri} on the two live tracks, {&”Masterplan”}
and {&”Sex Junkie”}, and {$Joey Reese} on the studio material. Keep in
mind that’s four drummers in the two year span between {$Stu Deutsch} on
{^New Hope For The Wretched} and {$Alice Cooper} drummer {$Neal Smith}
on the studio material on {^Beyond The Valley Of 1984} (that 1981
album’s two tracks recorded live in Milan don’t identify if the drummer
is one of the four – and if you add the drummer from the {@Capitol
Records} debut in 1982, the {^Coup D’etat} album, it brings that  total
to five). {$Chris “Junior” Romanelli} replaces {$Jean
Beauvoir} whose image and musicianship was pretty irreplaceable.  Still,
{$Dan Hartman} does a great job of capturing a solid hard rock sound and
{$Wendy O} is truly  significant as a more than competent metal
vocalist. It’s a transition
from the previous attempts at punk and smart reinvention. {$Beauvoir}
would come back five years later with his excellent solo project {^Drums
Along The Mohawk} followed two years later by {^Jacknifed}. His presence
and musicianship could have added to these four studio sides, though
they hold up well on their own.  There’s not much difference between
{$Wendy’s} snarling on doomsday song {&”12 Noon”} or {&”Doom Song”},
which is yet another doomsday song, this one with {$Richie Stotts}
brilliant slashing guitar lines.  The metal arena gives {$Stotts} a
chance to shine, and he is an underrated talent, as was {$Wendy O}.  The
combined energies of these individuals always took a back seat to
{$Swenson’s} imagery and public relations. The material by {$Stotts} and
{$Beech} is fun and fits the bill, though a separate live album would
have been preferable to the cutting and pasting.
Still, {^Metal Priestess} holds up and is a worthwhile addition to the
small but influential {$Plasmatics} output.  It was later combined
on CD with its sister release from 1981 {^Beyond The Valley of 1984} .





Vincebus Eruptum is the title of the album that spawned Blue Cheer’s Top 40 hit, a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” in the Spring of 1968. Four decades later the sound from that album shook the rafters at Great Scott’s in Allston to an audience of appreciative psychedelic blues
rockers. There were many parallels to the Iggy and the Stooges show the night before – bassist/vocalist Dickie Peterson’s skull and crossbones on his amp (which Iggy and The Stooges had as their backdrop onstage), a cross generational audience of twenty-somethings and grey hairs, and the same low tone emanating from the stage. As they plowed into their third
selection, a cover of B.B. King’s “Rock Me Baby” that sounded less like King and more like…a heavy metal thunder, the Hendrixian guitar sounds of guitarist Andrew “Duck” MacDonald kept the music on an esoteric level the audience could relate to a bit more than the pedestrian hardcore
opening acts. Two of the openers sounded like they were trying to be hardcore rather than taking it in a new direction. Their redundant copying of an overplayed genre was a stark contrast to Blue Cheer’s glorious paean to yesteryear.

For a band with such an eclectic catalog, they stuck to the basics, material from the first hit album. Pianist Mose Allison’s “Parchment Farm” became psychedelic sludge with Peterson noting that “we picked a lot of our music from a lot of different places” and that Allison might not
appreciate how they put their stamp on the song. Albert King’s “The Hunter” from their second album, Outsideinside, had that low thud exploding into Space Age Blues. As Vincent Jeffries on AllMusic.com noted in his review of Outsideinside it “ranks among the most underappreciated hard rock collections ever” and “was released a full year before either the Stooges’ debut or MC5’s Kick Out the Jams.” Though this critic would’ve appreciated the group dipping into their Bob
Dylan/The Band-styled musings which would happen by 1970’s “The Original Human Being”, or putting their pristine Pink Floyd-ish chestnut, “I’m The Light”, from the album Oh! Pleasant Hope, in the middle of the set to bring some balance, these tried and true veterans were happy to blast away with the trademark original sound that launched a thousand ear plugs.

With The Linwood closing on this weekend and The Kirkland in Somerville about to close on May 31 Great Scott might be the little room to fill the void. https://rockjournalistjoevig.blogspot.com/2011/