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Good Times Are So Hard to Find

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Album Review

Blue Cheer's massive contribution to the early evolution of American heavy metal exists entirely on their first two 1968 releases, Vincebus Eruptum and Outsideinside. While those initial releases charted admirably, critics largely ignored the band's loud, bluesy, psychedelic-tinged hard rock. The touchy-feely summer of love lasted a lot longer than three months and building heavy metal momentum in the States was a difficult affair. There resulted some lineup shifts, minor stylistic excursions, brief creative flourishes, more lineup changes, solo projects, half retirement, and reunion retreads. Some decent songs were recorded during that long descent and fortunately many of them were picked to grace the track list of Good Times Are So Hard to Find. Chief among them is the title cut and "Pilot" from 1970's Original Human Being. Other tracks from the group's eponymous release and 1971's Oh! Pleasant Hope have a boogie-down and MOR feel respectively that, while competent, contains hardly any of the group's original fire. Of course there are a few 1968 classics like the splendid "Out of Focus," "Parchment Farm," and the band's first (and only) big hit "Summertime Blues." Fans of '70s rock in its many forms might enjoy this 1990 retrospective, but metal historians need not worry about anything beyond Blue Cheer's first two offerings.


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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