Monthly Archives: March 2013

 

 

Year: 1968

Genre: Blues Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Preceded by: –

Followed by: Outsideinside (1968)

Related to: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin, The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced

 

Fortunately for the development of music in all its variation, especially the heavier genres, there were always bands out there that asked themselves if things couldn’t be played a little louder. Blue Cheer certainly was such a band.

It’s 1968 and a big part of the music scene was embracing the progress technology had made with regard to improving amplifiers and electric guitars. Especially the possibility to significantly amplify the sound of the bass guitar made it possible for bands to play as loud as possible without losing the sound of the bass. This was the deciding development that notorious blues rock artists like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix were waiting for to form their own power trios, consisting of guitar, bass and drums. Bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who in fact used the same concept, adding a seperate singer. 1967 subsequently brought us Hendrix’ Are You Experienced?, 1969 Led Zeppelin’s debut album and 1968 had Blue Cheer’s impressive debut: Vincebus Eruptum.

Just like those two acts, Blue Cheer reinterpreted old blues songs and took them to higher and louder levels using loads of amplifiers. Hendrix ofcourse added the psychedelic influences that were characteristic for those times. With Blue Cheer being located in San Francisco and being called after a kind of LSD (at its turn called after a washing product), it may not be surprising that those influences are also present on their debut. If you’re looking for extensive improvisation, hyperamplification and lots of distortion, this is the album that definitely should be in your record collection. No other band of that time in my opinion had the raw intensity and energy of Blue Cheer, making them blow up their complete equipment the first time they tried to record this album.

Blue Cheer was founded in 1966 with the original line up consisting of Dickie Peterson on bass (which he played since the age of 13) and vocals, Leigh Stephens on guitar (ranked 98 on Rolling Stones’ 100 greatest guitarists of all time) and Eric Albronda on drums. Albronda was subsequently replaced by Paul Whaley and the band recruited some extra members on guitar, keyboards and harmonica. But, according to the myth, they brought the band down to a power trio after witnessing Hendrix’ mind blowing performance with his Experience at Monterey. So Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens and Paul Whaley remained as the line-up for the first album, consisting of 6 songs with a total length of about half an hour. But don’t worry, just turn the record over again.

The LP starts with the bands only real hit, a cover of Eddie Cochran’s blues song ‘Summertime Blues’. This must be the ultimate example of transforming a classic blues song into blues rock, played that hard that it’s drawing the outlines of hard rock. The first part of the song combines an extremely pounding rhythm section with a crying guitar, immediately giving you the opportunity to test your own sound equipment. The riff in the middle of the song reminds of Hendrix’ ‘Foxy Lady’, after which the guitar becomes a rollercoaster, steadily taking off and at its peak crushing down at high speed. This version beats The Who’s interpretation of the song hands down if it comes down to muscular strength and roughness.

An even greater blues classic follows quickly, when B.B. King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ sets in. Also covered amongst others by Otis Redding (a great idol of singer Peterson), this song sticks to the typical blues sound of the guitar with another pumping combo of bass and drums adding the rock here. If not already taken place, everthing goes mental on the third track, Dickie Peterson’s self-proclaimed drug anthem ‘Doctor Please’. Peterson experienced a lot of funny feelings in his head at the time and sings about them after a rough intro of Paul Whaley. The song is about 8 minutes long and offers you the best definition of the term ‘power trio’. The energy drips out of your speakers when guitar solos, kicking drums, the screaming voice of Peterson and heavy bass sounds keep interchanging before exploding together now and then. This also reminds of later stoner rock from bands like Kyuss.

The next song, ‘Out of Focus’, lasts four minutes but was written in ten minutes according to Peterson. This song also has some psychedelic lyrics about angels in mystic dreams, propelled by a haunting guitar riff from Stephens. The roughness of the instruments and Petersons howling voice on this track marks the difference between Blue Cheer and more polished power trios like Clapton’s Cream. It’s followed by another cover, ‘Parchment Farm’, from jazz and blues pianist Mose Allison. This song offers some space for some extensive jamming just when you think the song has ended, while Peterson sings sightly funny lyrics like “I’ve been sitting over here on Parchment Farm. Ain’t ever done nobody no wrong. All I did was shoot my wife. She was no good! “. ‘Second Time Around’ offers you one last chance to pick up your air guitar, as the riffs are very sweet again. Towards the middle of the song, Paul Whaley throws in a wild drum solo, after which all the remaining distortion and psychedelic effects out there are used to close the album, definitely a personal favorite.

After their debut album, the group was confronted with a lot of personnel changes, with their style developing towards a more commercial sound during the seventies and eighties. Periods of activity and temporary break-ups followed eachother, before breaking up for once and for all in 2009 after the death of Peterson, the only continuing member troughout the years. But Vincebus Eruptum remains an essential album to understand the concept of a power trio. Enjoy.

Top Tracks:
1. Doctor Please
2. Second Time Around
3. Summertime Blues

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers (Sticky Fingers, 1971)


Opening with the Stones this week, which is already quite remarkable, considering the two albums being in my collection. However, this famous one (with possibly even more famous sleeve from Andy Warhol) is an absolute gem. This song from it was covered later by Townes Van Zandt, which version was used in The Big Lebowski.

2. Electric Light Orchestra – Starlight (Out of the Blue, 1977)


Delighted of course with this choice, from one of my favorite albums. Written and produced by Jeff Lynne, obviously. Although you might think that the Bee Gees are also some kind of involved.

3. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (Evil Urges, 2008)


Title track of the homonymos album from 2008. Just like I said last time about Wilco, one of those bands that try to transcend the contemporary mediocrity by searching for new directions. Sometimes of course this ends up wrong (like on this album imho), but they would strike back hard three years later with one of their best albums (Circuital). Great band.

4. Grinderman – Go Tell the Women (Grinderman, 2007)


Going back one more year with this debut album from Nick Cave’s project Grinderman. Strange strolling song that nonetheless draws your attention when your shuffle hits it on a lost Tuesday afternoon.

5. Monks – Oh, How to Do Now (Black Monk Time, 1966)


Another curious song from an album I one day had to add to my collection because, just like 1000 others, it would be one that I absolutely had to hear before I die. It still has to prove that.

6. Jackson Browne – Rosie (Running On Empty, 1977)


Track from the album with the famous live ending. This song, to the contrary, was recorded backstage.

 

7. Golden Earring – Turn the World Around (Naked III, 2005)


Song from Holland’s rock pioneers that originally appeared on their 1989 album Keeper Of the Flame, when the band’s success was shrinking. That success returned in the nineties with the acoustic live trilogy, of which this is the final part.

8. Booker T. & The MG’s – Stranger on the Shore (Green Onion, 1962)


Way back in time then with this song from a classic album. The atmosphere of this song perfectly describes the scene of a stranger standing on the shore.

9. Mogwai – Sine Wave (Rock Action, 2001)


We’re still instrumental, but have travelled some 50 years in time meanwhile. Remarkably enough, this song also describes the atmosphere of a stranger standing on the shore, although the wind rages a little harder.

10. Lemonheads –  Rockin Stroll (It’s a Shame about Ray, 1992)


Another recommendation from my album bible, leading me through life by telling me how to walk through history. Gonna give this album also a next try.

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1.    Arctic Monkeys – When the Sun Goes Down (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, 2006)
If the shuffle is trying to give hints the past couple of times, than it wants me to start listening to the Arctic Monkeys again for some reason. It’s been a while, but I’m gonna listen to this album the next couple of weeks (update: never underestimate a good debut album, this still is a great one).

2.    Wilco – Poor Places (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002)


Penultimate track of the album I basically don’t know good enough (update: fan!), while I did  play the life out of their last album (The Whole Love) last year. For me this is one of those rare contemporary bands that keeps improving itself throughout their career and explores new directions.

3.    Arcade Fire – My Body Is A Cage (Neon Bible, 2007)


The shuffle keeps floating through the recent past with the third track from the zeroes in a row. A band that made a great impression with its debut, but of which I actually can’t say whether they continued in the same way. I realize at this actual moment that a lot of recent albums are catching dust in my virtual record cabinet.

4.    Tame Impala – Solitude Is Bliss (Innerspeaker, 2010)


On the other side, new recent albums are still added from time to time. This one for example, from a band that released its second album last year. However, for me personally, this debut album was one of the albums of that year, since I discovered it with a two-year delay thanks to DJ Grinder. At its best when cycling through a sunny city.

5.    Beirut – In the Mausoleum (The Flying Cup Club, 2007)


The shuffle really makes a survey of the past ten years, not missing out this wonderful song from Beirut.

 

6.    Pink Floyd – See Saw (A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968)


Finally we jump into the rich past of music history with this mysterious track from an even more mysterious album. I’m listening to this album some couple of weeks now, and it has really become one of my favorite Floyd albums. It incited me to make a poll about this, so please share your opinion.

7.    Grizzly Bear – Southern Point (Veckatimest, 2009)


And back to our musical overview of the past ten years with this track from the third album of this Brooklyn-based band. It’s the opening track, and also one of the best with some nice instrumental parts.

 

8. Ray Charles – One Mint Julep (single, 1961)


At first I thought Booker T. and the MG’s were kicking in again, but it turned out to be mister Charles. This is the version that finally claimed some fame for this song, in a swinging instrumental way. Original song by Rudy Toombs.

9. Meat Puppets – Violet Eyes (Too High to Die, 1994)


Abrupt transition than when we suddenly land into the grunge of the Meat Puppets. Also the opening track of the album.

 

10. Yim Yames – Long, Long, Long (Tribute To, 2009)


And the shuffle closes in a beautiful way with this cover from Jim James, the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, of this White Album track from George Harrison. This album, which is an entire tribute to this former Beatle, is hardly recommended by yours truly. If you’re not acquainted with it, only imagine this guy singing songs like ‘My Sweet Lord’ en ‘Love You  To’.

Jukebox

teaforthetillerman1970 surrealisticpillow1967 ledzeppelin1969 vincebuseruptum1968