THE CHEETERS – It’s Only Rock and Roll But You’ll Like It

THE CHEETERS, DOUG LEWIS (aka Gunter Vile), JAMIE COHEN (Dietrich Von Bone) and ANDY KRAVITZ (Klaus Kurtz)are an art band – their music is an art project. The Cheeters were not built to last, they were about a go for broke moment – They went deep and deeper still – Buddha was in the back seat and Bacchus was at the wheel. The Cheeters are an urgent confession, an uncompromising creative explosion marked by intelligence in the tradition of Captain Beefheart, Rage Against the Machine, and Nick Cave. The music is solid, inspired but it is the subtle lyrics, the sophisticated imagery and the complex multi-textured sound mix that is the band’s trademark. There is humor and passion and the pure joy of invention in this music and the Cheeters always tell the truth and never pull their punches. This is music made by men, not boys, and the stories are of lived lives, not fantasies, told by guys that got laid, not guys wishing they got laid. What strikes one about listening to the Cheeters is how present they are, how in the zeitgeist, giving you the newest news, the latest edition. They embraced randomness and found objects. What does that mean? I get a call from Lewis, car noise, clanking beer cans, he’s somewhere in Santa Fe, “Hey man, we just met this chick in a 7-11 while stopping for cigarettes and she says she can sing. We’re headed back to the studio now.” There was no master plan. They were on a wild ride, totally dedicated to the realm of the magical and committed and it was all holy. It was dangerous, probably crazy and they were on a grand high, a high stakes transcendent journey reduced to a four box set. That is how the dust settles on angels with outstretched wings. Lewis and Cohen had a shared sensibility that went back over twenty five years. They wrote together and emerged as one voice. They knew how to tread in darkness, they knew how to mine the madness and they knew the poetry of lust and outrage. Doug Lewis is a master of the crooked phrase, a knowing wit and a musical sensibility informed by the bands of his psychedelic Marin County youth such as Tower of Power and the Sons of Champlin. Cohen was also a consummate wordsmith, steeped in the blues and in the dada-surrealist sensibility. Listen to the Cheeters and you will hear echoes of absurdist poet, Tristian Tzara, as well as Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht. Weil & Brecht. Lewis & Cohen. If they met they’d share respect. Andy Kravitz, a two time Grammy winning producer, mixer, writer, engineer, and drummer was their soul brother, the catalytic third element and the maestro of the secret sauce. The Cheeters are about love, beauty, the ambiguous ephemeral, life, death and sex. It’s not only rock and roll but you’ll like it.  M.D. Baer/July 4, 2009

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