Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Blue Cheer - New! Improved! [1969]

Side two

I have most of this great if varying band's material, but only two on vinyl. The variation is in the music, especially over time, but I am referring mainly to the line-up, and my focused album New! Improved! exeplifies this latter aspect with two quite separate sides, both in style and performers.

Cited as one of the loudest bands and progenitors of heavy metal, Blue Cheer is best known as a power trio who turned up the volume and pounded out their thumping and wild material. Their second album Outsideinside [1968] - and my other vinyl copy - has one of the more sustained examples of this.

However, it's New! Improved! that sits the highest in my all-time favourite's lengthy list, and it is side 2 that I play again and again. This highlights the brief Blue Cheer incarnation of lead guitarist Randy Holden, and it is his songwriting and playing that stands out for me. The two long tracks 'Peace of Mind' and 'Fruit & Iceburgs' contain searing solos [with dual playing presumably over-dubbed as sleeve notes indicate 'Randy Holden - Vocals - all Guitars'] and their melodic leanings add a further dimension to the Blue Cheer songbook that wasn't to be continued as Holden left unexpectedly.

It is a memorable pair of rock masterpieces. That's all that needs to be said.

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