ARTIST: Blue Cheer
TITLE: New! Improved!
YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #84
SINGLES: West Coast Child of Sunshine
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover a Dylan song
LINEUP: Dickie Peterson, Paul Whaley. Bruce Stephens and Ralph Burns Kellogg are on side one. Randy Holden is on side two.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A move away from proto-metal after lineup shifts does nothing for the band, and many fans jump ship after this.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dropping the needle on side one, track one, and you get “When It All Gets Old”, a song written by now full-time member Ralph Burns Kellogg. It’s not heavy, not at all. The second track, the single, has some of the old feel, but the record shows the band to have devolved into a semi-folky hippie band, complete with a bad Dylan cover.
Then, there’s side two. The way the band was supposed to sound. Randy Holden (famous for being an unknown guitarist of the 60’s and 70’s – seriously) led the band through two out-of-this-world psychedelic rock tracks in “Peace of Mind” and “Fruit and Icebergs” (go-to songs for mixes for those in the know – especially the latter). Blue Cheer as a power trio with guitars at the fore – that’s the band we know and love.
But that’s all we got from Holden, and Peterson and Whaley had to scramble to finish the record after Holden left. So that’s why the first half is the way it is, and why Blue Cheer moved away from their best selves.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Holden joined after Leigh Stephens left due to deafness or in protest of Peterson’s drug use. Holden left suddenly when he found he had no money as the money went to Peterson’s habit. Oh, this isn’t streaming, but the good Holden tracks are on a Blue Cheer comp that’s still around.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of extra tracks.
GRADE C-: An A for Side Two, with Holden. You can tell what I think about the other side, and Blue Cheer going forward.