Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum & Outsideinside

Blue Cheer was one of the craziest, noisiest and loudest band of the late 60’s. A power trio with the emphasis on “power”, these long-haired, grungy maniacs claimed to be able to blow open the back doors of stadiums with the sheer volume of their attack! One of my fave quotes of the band comes from an appearance on the Steve Allen show. Steve is going on & on about how incredible the volume level is, and then asks guitarist Leigh Stevens the purpose of his FuzzFace pedal. Leigh replies “to make it louder!”

The group burst (almost literally!) onto the scene in 1968 with their debut album, Vincebus Eruptum, and a hit single with their version of “Summertime Blues”. The record is total high-energy, over-the-top madness, turning blues-rock inside out with layers of feedback and wild improvisation. Plenty of drug references (the best being in Parchment Farm, where singer/bassist Dickie Peterson shrieks “here on the parchment farm – all I did was shoot my arm!”), which just adds to the feeling that these guys were constantly f’k’d up!

Terrific, insane album, but the best “song” is “Out Of Focus”, a cool, head-pounding, riff-rocker that Redd Kross covered during their Dez Cadena days!

The second record, Outsideinside (for which the LA band was names after), is a bit more psychedelic, but no less sick and twisted! This time out there are more originals, but there is also and acid-drenched version of the Stones’ “Satisfaction” and a great cover of the blues standard, “The Hunter”, which certainly pre-dated Led Zep’s thievery of this song!

More “trippy” effects this time out, but still good songs, especially the absolutely manic “Come & Get It”, a full-throttle blast of sex and volume (as best I can tell, Dickie is wailing about “getting head and feeling so free” and “rubbing my own” or something of the sort!). “Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger” is a super instrumental as well as being the inspiration for at least one band’s name! "Feathers From Your Tree", "Sun Cycle", "Gypsy Ball", "Just A Little Bit" (powered by the heavy drumming of Paul Whaley),etc, are all great tunes and show a growth of originality.

Fantastic madness on these two records – kinda like if the Velvet Underground tried to play like the Jimi Hendrix Experience!

After Outsideinside, Leigh Stevens left and for me, the band lost its edge and nothing was anywhere near the same. But, these two albums are classics for those who love hearing a bunch of wildmen teetering on the edge of madness!


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