This month in 1968, Blue Cheer released its debut album, Vincebus Eruptum, and forever changed the face (and the volume) of rock music. We decided it was a good time to revisit…
The Album: Vincebus Eruptum by Blue Cheer (Phillips, 1968)
The Players: Dickie Peterson on vocals / bass, Leigh Stephens on guitar, Paul Whaley on drums. Produced by Abe Kesh.
What Makes It Essential: A year before the MC5 unleashed Kick Out The Jams on the general public, and two years before Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut made the ground shake on both sides of the Atlantic, San Francisco psych trio Blue Cheer fired off the biggest-sounding, heaviest record then known to man, Vincebus Eruptum (we don’t know what the title means, but we hypothesize that “eruptum” refers to listeners’ eardrums). The record’s six tracks are split between fuzzed-out, bottom heavy blues covers and originals by frontman Dickie Peterson, but regardless of who first penned its songs, Blue Cheer undisputedly made them their own. For example, album opener and strangely high-charting hit, “Summertime Blues,” turns Eddie Cochran’s ‘50s teen anthem on its head, taking the good-natured angst of the original and updating it with a haze of ‘60s drug culture and the band’s disdain and anger over the Vietnam conflict. The record set the bar for new horizons in noise and sonic experimentation and, many would argue, laid the groundwork for what soon became known as heavy metal. The album’s minimal production style makes it all the more powerful, highlighting the members’ individual talents and combined force as a unit while documenting an unrepentant rawness that remains hard to match nearly half a century later.
Suggested Tracks: “Summertime Blues,” “Parchment Farm” (Mose Allison cover), “Second Time Around.”