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What Doesn't Kill You

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Album Review

If you're old enough, you encountered this band sitting in someone's never-cleaned Mustang, while bong hits were traded in the front; trapped by rain from escaping the fetid reek, but strangely intrigued by the thickest, loudest band you'd ever heard on the 8-track — Blue Cheer turning Eddie Cochran's Crickets-like 1958 number eight "Summertime Blues" into a bludgeon for a shocking 1968 number 11. (True story.) Even the Who's subsequent Live at Leeds cover was a popgun to Blue Cheer's howitzer! With Iron Butterfly, Led Zeppelin, and prime heirs Black Sabbath, this psychedelic San Francisco trio birthed metal by playing huge blues. 40 years later, bassist singer Dickie Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley still jam with joined-in-the'80s guitarirst Duck McDonald, making metal as beefy as a brontosaurus. Today's cover is Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," and that and more are a dust bomb of the dirtiest, rottenest rock this side of slower Motorhead.


Formed: 1967 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

San Francisco-based Blue Cheer was what, in the late '60s, they used to call a "power trio": Dickie Peterson (b. 1948, Grand Forks, ND) (bass, vocals), Paul Whaley (drums), and Leigh Stephens (guitar). They played what later was called heavy metal, and when they debuted in January 1968 with the album Vincebus Eruptum and a Top 40 cover of Eddie Cochran's hit "Summertime Blues," they sounded louder and more extreme than anything that had come before them. As it turned out, they were a precursor of...
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