Friday, January 20, 2017

Blue Cheer - 1968 - Vincebus Eruptum

Blue Cheer 
Vincebus Eruptum 

01. Summertime Blues 3:43
02. Rock Me Baby 4:18
03. Doctor Please 8:50
04. Out Of Focus 3:52
05. Parchment Farm 5:48
06. Second Time Around 6:18

07. All Night Long 2:06

Bass, Vocals – Dick Peterson
Drums – Paul Whaley
Guitar – Leigh Stephens

Liner Notes [Poem] – Augustus Owsley Stanley III

Promotional pressing with white labels and silver textured cover. "Augustus Stanley Owsley III" on back sleeve
Recorded at Amigo Studios, North Hollywood, CA.1967

Released on January 16, 1968

Let us today pay tribute to Blue Cheer’s astounding debut LP VINCEBUS ERUPTUM, their teenage master class in colossally loud avant-garde guitar dynamics released exactly forty-nine years ago and arguably the first rock album genuinely deserving of the description ‘Heavy Metal’: stumbling and inchoate a-rhythmical white noise guitar, thundering tribal drumming, soul bass riffs smothered under sheets of formless Gibson guitar mung. ‘Bracing atonality’ quipped a hysterical Lester Bangs, enchanted by these young bikers named after a particularly snarly batch of bathtub LSD. And to whatever insane heathen divinity took possession of VINCEBUS ERUPTUM’s producer Abe ‘Voco’ Kesh during those strange days at North Hollywood’s Amigo Studios, we can only raise our cups and give praise for the revolutionary manner in which he oversaw the recording of this adventuresome San Francisco power-trio. For nothing before nor anything after VINCEBUS ERUPTUM ever sounded so shocking as these six mind-numbing and sustained barbarian sludgefests. Revolutionary? Indubitably. Indeed, VINCEBUS ERUPTUM demanded a whole new set of ears, a whole new set of values. To those mid-60s hordes in thrall to Clapton’s Cream, Blue Cheer was over-amplified and discordant trash: shed-building with choruses. But to those Future-heads accepting of the Velvet Underground’s equally defiantly anti-hippie sensibility, Blue Cheer’s deployment on VINCEBUS ERUPTUM both of USAF-levels of Marshall amplifier bombast AND ‘When The Music’s Over’-levels of pindrop-silence had created a veritable Rock Godhead. Moreover, no less that the MC5 themselves refashioned themselves into that KICK OUT THE JAMS Sludge Machine we know and love only AFTER supporting Blue Cheer at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom. Indeed, two legendary ‘70s Japanoise guitar manglers, Takeshi Mizutani (of Les Rallizes Denudés) and Keiji Heino, even cut their teeth in a Blue Cheer cover band. But only with the arrival of the early ‘90s proto-Doom scene that centred around Dylan Carlson’s Earth and Bobby Liebling’s gnarly Pentagram did the rest of the world finally catch up sonically with the distorted guitar worldview that VINCEBUS ERUPTUM had evinced over two decades previously. And so, though derided by the contemporary US press as being nothing more than a gauche soon-to-be-forgotten J. Hendrix parody, it is still to VINCEBUS ERUPTUM that every subsequent generation of genuine outsider rock’n’roller has beaten a path when searching for sonic rivals with which to do battle. So let us today raise our cups in salute to Blue Cheer: to bass player and singer Dickie Peterson, to drummer Paul Whaley, and – most of all – to deaf guitarist Leigh Stephens. Brothers, we salute ye!

[Written by Julian Cope]

Rock & roll had grown louder and wilder by leaps and bounds during the '60s, but when Blue Cheer emerged from San Francisco onto the national rock scene in 1968 with their debut album, Vincebus Eruptum, they crossed a line which most musicians and fans hadn't even thought to draw yet. Vincebus Eruptum sounds monolithically loud and primal today, but it must have seemed like some sort of frontal assault upon first release; Blue Cheer are often cited as the first genuine heavy metal band, but that in itself doesn't quite sum up the true impact of this music, which even at a low volume sounds crushingly forceful. Though Blue Cheer's songs were primarily rooted in the blues, what set them apart from blues-rock progenitors such as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds was the massive physical force of their musical attack. Jimi Hendrix, the Who, and the MC5 may have anticipated the sound and fury of this music, but Blue Cheer's secret was not just being louder than anyone else, but staying simple enough to give each member the space to do damage both as individuals and as a group. Paul Whaley's drumming combined a crashing dustbin tone with a constant, rolling pummel that suggested Ginger Baker with less finesse and more bludgeoning velocity. Dickie Peterson's basslines were as thick as tar and bubbled like primordial ooze as he bellowed out his lyrics with a fire and attitude that compensated for his lack of vocal range. And guitarist Leigh Stephens may have been the first genius of noise rock; Lester Bangs once wrote that Stephens' "sub-sub-sub-sub-Hendrix guitar overdubs stumbled around each other so ineptly they verged on a truly bracing atonality," and though that doesn't sound like a compliment, the lumbering chaos of his roaring, feedback-laden leads birthed a more glorious monster than many more skillful players could conjure. Put them together, and Blue Cheer's primal din was an ideal corrective for anyone who wondered if full-on rock & roll was going to have a place in the psychedelic revolution. From the opening rampage through Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" (which miraculously became a hit single), to the final one-two punch of "Parchment Farm" and "Second Time Around," Vincebus Eruptum is a glorious celebration of rock & roll primitivism run through enough Marshall amps to deafen an army; only a few of Blue Cheer's peers could come up with anything remotely this heavy (the MC5's Kick Out the Jams and side two of the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat were its closest rivals back in the day), and no one could summon so much thunder with just three people. If you want to wake the neighbors, this is still the album to get, and it was Blue Cheer's simplest and most forceful musical statement.