"Blue Cheer — run for your lives!" That is how Steve Allen introduced the holocaust-fuzz trio when it performed on his TV talk show in 1968 through a Jericho Wall of Marshall cabinets. That is still good advice, if you have doubts about the manliness of earplugs. The Blue Cheer I saw in 2006 at CBGB â€" with the founding boiler room of singer-bassist Dickie Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley, plus long-serving guitarist Andrew "Duck" MacDonald — were still "louder than God," to quote an old compliment. Their new album, What Doesn't Kill You . . . (Rainman), is a strong studio calling card for that live might. The production does not have the exploding-mixing-desk presence of 1968's Vincebus Eruptum, but new songs like the slow-pain blues "No Relief " will surely be extreme-din heaven onstage, with or without earplugs.
A Great Beginning
Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan's debut album, The End of History (Lost Highway), is as loud as a heartbeat in an empty room, reverberating with the firm, fluid confrontation of his bright-whisper vocals, the fngerpicking dance of his acoustic guitar and his acutely probing lyricism in songs such as "Hey Rabbit" ("No one these days says thank you/When you open doors for them"). "Be good or be gone," Regan sings here. He's better than good — and ready to go places.
All the Blues That Fits
Strange Brew: Eric Clapton and the British Blues Boom 1965-1970 (Jawbone Press) is 352 pages of press clips and gig-and-session minutiae from Eric Clapton's Sixties prime that apparently didn't fit into his new autobiography. Author Christopher Hjort traces Clapton's guitar-hero ascent through the Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith in a maniacally detailed chronology that includes the parallel rise and twists of Clapton's mentor John Mayall and fellow Mayall alumni Peter Green and Mick Taylor. Best read, naturally, with records like Fresh Cream and Fleetwood Mac's Then Play On going at high volume.