Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster
Highlights and Lowlives is the eighth studio album by American rock band Blue Cheer, released in 1990 and produced by Jack Endino.
Being a child of the 60's I'm glad to see my favorite band is still alive and kicking. So it wass with great anticipation I ordered "Highlights and Lowlives" --After listening to it a few times I said to myself: " Yeap, that's my Blue Cheer alright". They're stll plugging away with that combination of Blues and Hard Rock that earned them the title of "The Fathers of Heavy Metal".
But, over all, if you like your Blues with that hard rock edge, get this CD --Blue Steel Dues is the best track of the bunch. Get it even if only for that one song.
Now I don't understand why this one is so underrated. Maybe that 90's style production is the reason why so many people call this one a dull album. But for me this one is a great album. The sound is a heavy blues rock sound and I like it a lot. The highlights for me include "Hunter of Love", "Big Trouble in Paradise", "Flight of the Enola Gay" and the amazing "Blue Steel Dues". The only thing I really have to complain about is that ridiculous album cover. It just blows.
Biography by Wikipedia:
Blue Cheer was an American rock band that initially performed and recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was sporadically active until 2009. Based in San Francisco, Blue Cheer played in a psychedelic blues-rock style, and is also credited as being pioneers of heavy metal (their cover of "Summertime Blues" is sometimes cited as the first in the genre), punk rock, stoner rock, doom metal, experimental rock, and grunge. According to Tim Hills in his book, The Many Lives of the Crystal Ballroom, "Blue Cheer was the epitome of San Francisco psychedelia." Jim Morrison of The Doors called the group "The single most powerful band I've ever seen."
The band is said to have been named after a street brand of LSD and promoted by renowned LSD chemist and former Grateful Dead patron, Owsley Stanley.
Golden years (1967–1969):
Blue Cheer came together in 1967. The formation of the band was organised by Dickie Peterson. Dickie Peterson lived in San Francisco where the sixties music scene was starting to hit the high note. Peterson had previously been with the Davis-based band Andrew Staples & The Oxford Circle, as well as future Blue Cheer members Paul Whaley and Gary Lee Yoder. The original Blue Cheer personnel were singer/bassist Dickie Peterson, guitarist Leigh Stephens and Eric Albronda as drummer. Albronda was later replaced by Paul Whaley, who was joined by Dickie's brother Jerre Peterson (guitar), Vale Hamanaka (keyboards), and Jere Whiting (vocals, harmonica). Albronda continued his association with Blue Cheer as a member of Blue Cheer management, as well as being the producer or co-producer of five Blue Cheer albums.
|Dickie Peterson 1990|
The "Summertime Blues" single was backed with Dickie Peterson's original song "Out Of Focus". Peterson also contributed to the album the eight-minute "Doctor Please" and "Second Time Around", which features Paul Whaley's frantic drum solo. Filling out the record, the band cranked out blues covers "Rock Me Baby" and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm" (titled "Parchment Farm").
The group underwent several personnel changes, the first occurring after the 1968 release of Outsideinside after Leigh Stephens left the band due to musical differences or, as some report, deafness. He was replaced by Randy Holden, formerly of Los Angeles garage rock band The Other Half. On 1969's New! Improved! Blue Cheer there were different guitarists on side 1 and side 2 (Randy Holden and Bruce Stephens) due to Holden's unanticipated departure from the band. Following Holden's departure the band's lineup initially consisted of Dickie Peterson (bass), Tom Weisser (guitar), and Mitch Mitchell (drums), before Whaley returned and Stephens joined the band. Later, Ralph Burns Kellogg also joined the band on keyboards. Blue Cheer's style now changed to a more commercial hard rock sound à la Steppenwolf or Iron Butterfly. By the fourth album Blue Cheer Paul Whaley had left the band and had been replaced by Norman Mayell, and following the release of the fourth album Bruce Stephens also left the band and was succeeded by Gary Lee Yoder who helped complete the album.
According to Dickie Peterson the group's lifestyle during this period caused problems with the music industry and press. Peterson said the group was outraged by the Vietnam War and society in general.
Reconfigurations, inactivity and first extended hiatus (1970s):
The new line-up of Peterson, Kellogg, Mayell and Yoder in 1970 saw the release of The Original Human Being, followed by 1971's Oh! Pleasant Hope. When Oh! Pleasant Hope failed to dent the sales charts, Blue Cheer temporarily split up in 1972.
There was a temporary resumption in 1974 with Dickie Peterson being joined by brother Jerre, Ruben de Fuentes (guitar) and Terry Rae (drums) for some tour dates. This grouping continued on briefly in 1975 with former Steppenwolf bassist Nick St. Nicholas replacing Dickie. The group was then largely inactive for nearly three years, until 1978.
Dickie returned in 1978–79 with a fresh line-up of Tony Rainier on guitar and Mike Fleck on drums. This version of the group went out on an American tour in 1979, primarily playing nightclubs. They played only material from the first two "heavy" Blue Cheer albums, opening their shows with "Summertime Blues".
Further reconfigurations, relocation to Germany, second and third extended hiatus (1980s–1998):
Blue Cheer was once again inactive in the early 1980s. There was another attempt to reunite in 1983, but that fell through. In 1984, Peterson had better luck when he returned with Whaley and Rainier as Blue Cheer and a brand new album The Beast Is Back, which was released on the New York label Megaforce Records. Whaley left again in 1985 as drummer Brent Harknett took over, only to be succeeded by Billy Carmassi in 1987. That same year, Dickie led yet another new lineup of the Cheer that had Ruben de Fuentes back on guitar and Eric Davis on drums. In 1988, the line-up changed once again, being now composed of Dickie Peterson (bass), with Andrew "Duck" MacDonald (guitar) and Dave Salce (drums).
|Blue Cheer 1967|
1989 saw the release of Blue Cheer's first official live album, Blitzkrieg over Nüremberg. This album was recorded during Blue Cheer's first European tour in decades.
1990 saw the release of the Highlights and Lowlives studio album, composed of blues-based heavy metal and one ballad. The album was co-produced by notable grunge producer Jack Endino and producer Roland Hofmann. The line-up was Peterson, Whaley on drums and MacDonald on guitars.
Blue Cheer followed up "Highlights" with the much heavier Dining with the Sharks. Duck MacDonald was replaced by German ex-Monsters guitar player Dieter Saller in 1990. Also featured is a special guest appearance by Groundhogs guitarist Tony McPhee. The album was co-produced by Roland Hofmann and Blue Cheer. Gary Holland (ex-Dokken/Great White/Britton) replaced Whaley on drums in 1993.
In the early 1990s, Peterson and Whaley re-located to Germany. In 1992 Peterson recorded his first solo album "child of the darkness" in Cologne with a band named "The Scrap Yard". The album appeared five years later in Japan on Captain Trip Records. After Peterson came back to the U.S. (1994), Blue Cheer was dormant from 1994 to 1999.
|Blue Cheer 1969|
In 1999, Peterson & Whaley got together with guitarist MacDonald, to resume touring as Blue Cheer. This band configuration remained largely constant from 1999 until Peterson's death in 2009.
In 2000, Blue Cheer was the subject of a tribute album, Blue Explosion – A Tribute to Blue Cheer, featuring such bands as Pentagram, Internal Void, Hogwash and Thumlock.
Peterson and Leigh Stephens were together once again in Blue Cheer with drummer Prairie Prince at the Chet Helms Memorial Tribal Stomp in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on October 29, 2005, and their lively performance drew old rockers like Paul Kantner and others from backstage to observe. They did some recordings in Virginia in Winter 2005 with Joe Hasselvander of Raven and Pentagram on drums, due to Paul Whaley choosing to remain in Germany. While Hasselvander played on the entire album, his contribution was reduced to drums on five songs, with Paul Whaley re-recording the drum parts on the balance of the album. This was because Whaley was set to rejoin the band and it was felt that he should contribute to the album, prior to touring. The resulting CD, What Doesn't Kill You..., released in 2007, features contributions from both Whaley and Hasselvander as a consequence.
Blue Cheer's video for Summertime Blues made an appearance in 2005 documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, where Geddy Lee of Rush referred to the group as one of the first heavy metal bands.
Death of Dickie Peterson and disbandment (2009):
On October 12, 2009, Peterson died in Germany after development and spread of prostate cancer. After Peterson's death, longtime Blue Cheer guitarist Andrew MacDonald wrote on the group's website that "Blue Cheer is done. Out of respect for Dickie, Blue Cheer (will) never become a viable touring band again."
Personnel for this album:
♦ Dickie Peterson - bass guitar, lead vocals
♦ Duck MacDonald - lead guitar, backing vocals
♦ Paul Whaley - drums
01. "Urban Soldiers" (Dickie Peterson) - 4:09
02. "Hunter of Love" (Duck MacDonald, Peterson) - 5:32
03. "Girl from London" (MacDonald, Peterson) - 5:40
04. "Blue Steel Dues" (MacDonald, Peterson) - 6:19
05. "Big Trouble in Paradise" (Peterson, Rainer) - 4:11
06. "Flight of the Enola Gay" (MacDonald, Peterson) - 3:49
07. "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" (Willie Dixon) - 5:56
08. "Down and Dirty" (MacDonald, Peterson) - 4:35
Japanese Bonus Track
09. "Blues Cadillac" (Peterson) - 3:49
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