Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oh! Pleasant Hope - Blue Cheer

Oh! Pleasant Hope
Blue Cheer
Philips PHS 600-350

This was Blue Cheer's sixth and final album (at least until they reunited in the 1980s.)  Fans of their debut, "Vincebus Eruptum" would hardly recognize this record as being from the same group and in truth, it wasn't really the same group.  The power trio that recorded the primitive and insanely loud hard rock of the debut was replaced by a quartet playing mellow Bay Area hippie rock.  Only bassist Dickie Peterson remained from the original lineup.  Most of the record was written by new members Gary Yoder (guitar and vocals) and Norman Mayell (drums, sitar and guitar).  I greatly prefer the debut record, but having grown up with this sort of hippie nonsense I have more of a taste for it than most people and thus I enjoy some of this record.  My favorite track is the title track by long time associate of the band, Richard Peddicord.  It is a country-flavored paean to marijuana, dreaming of the day when "grass will flow like wine."  It reminds me a bit of the Band and is the only song that sticks with me when the record is over.  Peddicord also contributed "Money Troubles" to the album.  It is a far lesser song only notable for its San Francisco Sound style guitar runs.  I do like Dickie Peterson's sole songwriting contribution to the album, "Heart Full of Soul" which bares no resemblance to the Yardbirds' classic hit.  It is the only song that reminds me of the debut record.  It is a straight ahead rocker driven by Peterson's throbbing bass riff and Ralph Kellogg's organ.  It is kind of generic and could use more guitar noise but it still holds my attention.  "Hiway Man" by Yoder, Mayell and Gary Grelecki is a nice propulsive country rocker but I dislike its lyrics about a Confederate renegade thief.  Yoder and Grelecki are also responsible for the pedestrian rocker "Believer" and the mellow "Traveling Man" both of which bore me.  Norman Mayell doesn't fare much better.  He breaks out his sitar for the religious themed "I'm The Light" (written with Kent Houseman) which goes on for more than 5 seemingly endless minutes of hippie bullshit.  His solo composition "Ecological Blues" is a polemical folk-blues sung by Peterson in an irritating gravelly voice like he's trying to imitate an old blues man.  Ralph Kellogg wrote "Lester The Molester" which is a folk-rock boogie that sounds a bit like the Grateful Dead.  The lyrics are pretty dumb but it is a lot livelier tune than most of the album.  I can't really endorse this album, but I have to admit that I generally enjoy it when I give it a spin as long as I don't pay close attention to it.  It probably sounds better if you are buzzed.  Recommended for fans of the Youngbloods' Warner Bros. albums.

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