Blue Cheer

Vincebus Eruptum/Outsideinside

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This disc gathers Vincebus Eruptum (1968) and Outsideinside (1968) -- the only two long-players to feature the original Blue Cheer lineup of Dickie Peterson (bass/vocals), Paul Whaley (drums), and Leigh Stephens (guitar). The Bay Area-based power trio were one of the first stateside bands to become synonymous with the blues-influenced heavy metal movement. This occurred many months prior to their U.K. counterparts, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. As live performers, Blue Cheer were known for their cochlea-splitting volume, directly contrasting with the comparatively lightweight psychedelic scene. Both platters reflect a style that is, at times, no less trippy than the Grateful Dead or Quicksilver Messenger Service. However, it is Blue Cheer's earthy and otherwise in-your-face demeanor that sets them far apart from their acid rock contemporaries. Their debut, Vincebus Eruptum, spawned the Top 20 remake of "Summertime Blues." The cut's acidic frenzy showcases the interlocking rhythm section of Peterson and Whaley, overtop of which Stephens unleashes rush upon adrenaline-fuelled rush of adept, frenetic fretwork. "Rock Me Baby" retains its bluesy, propulsive origins with an equal measure of punkish aggression. Other highlights include the caustic acidity of the junkie anthem "Doctor Please" and a cover of Mose Allison's "Parchment Farm," the latter of which journeys into a lyrical sidebar excursion from Peterson featuring dark images of murder and drugs. Blue Cheer's sound changed significantly in the brief period leading away from the bombast of Vincebus Eruptum and into the much more progressive Outsideinside (1968). The trio is augmented by Ralph Burns Kellogg (keyboards/bass/woodwinds), a multi-tasking musician who would remain throughout the band's often-tumultuous personnel changes. Supposedly this follow-up was named, in part, thanks to the band's sheer volume. The credits indicate that the platter was recorded not only inside traditional studios, but also outside at Gate Five in Sausalito, on Muir Beach, as well as on Pier 57 in New York City. Although they have far from abandoned their trademark rugged and over-amplified persona, there are psychedelic remnants throughout this second effort. The languid groove on "Sun Cycle" features some liquid leads from Stephens, contrasting the razor-sharp attack of "Gyspy Ball" or the full sonic assault on their cover of the Stones' "Satisfaction." The reworking of Albert King's "The Hunter" and the brief instrumental exercise "Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger" are among the other distinct stylistic disparities on Outsideinside (1968).

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