1968, Music

Outsideinside (1968) by Blue Cheer

I don’t know what it is exactly, whether it’s the lack of novelty or something more concrete like weaker songs, but this record does not feel like it is the equal to Vincebus Eruptum. Making the comparison is not fair to begin with, simply because the debut is arguably one of the most important records of the 1960s, but when listening to this, even when trying to stress the context, it feels like it is lacking something the first record had.

I start with the songs; the covers (the Rolling Stones and Albert King this time) don’t feel as definitive. And the original material feels weaker – less catchy and perhaps a little more obviously lacking in basic songwriting ways. That was probably true on the debut too, but on the debut you have the novelty of the performances and arrangements, transforming music in front of your ears.

The performances here feel more psychedelic, more “acid rock” and less obnoxiously loud and slow than on the debut. There are more contemporary touches in the arrangements – piano! wah! flange!- than on the debut.

And then there’s the production, which sounds less thick and heavy. Maybe that’s just the version I’m listening to, but this record sounds more akin to Quicksilver Messenger Service or even Big Brother at times, than it does to what Zeppelin would produce in the next year. It sounds less “metal” and more “San Francisco psychedelic rock” this time out.

None of this is to say that this is a bad record – obviously my rating says it is not – but rather that it doesn’t live up, for me, to the huge expectations set on the debut. It feels more dated and far more like a product of its time than the debut does. Listening to this it feels like the only Blue Cheer record that matters is the first one.

7/10 I guess

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