There was a brief period in late-1960s television when middle-aged variety show hosts like Ed Sullivan would bring on longhaired freaks as something for the kiddies. Bespectacled Steve Allen's simple and direct introduction of this San Francisco-based act remains the best ever. "Blue Cheer!" he warned his audience. "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" Perhaps the most powerful of the power trios ("Louder Than God" being their motto), Blue Cheer have alternately been credited with helping pioneer hard, acid, and stoner rock, heavy metal and punk; their Vincebus Eruptum, featuring a pillaging cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues," remains one the era's best debuts. Unfortunately, Blue Cheer is often overlooked (constant membership changes didn't help), overshadowed by better-known contemporaries Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Grand Funk Railroad. The 2008 lineup includes founding members Dickie Peterson (vocals/bass) and Paul Whaley (drums), along with guitarist Andrew "Duck" Macdonald. Though their classic material is sporadically in print, the compilation Good Times Are So Hard to Find is a solid overview. The group showed little desire to tone things down on last year's thunderous CD What Doesn't Kill You...; if Spinal Tap's amps go to 11, Blue Cheer's hit 12. After Wednesday's Houston show, Blue Cheer heads to SXSW and the High Times Doobie Awards. Not only are they nominated for "Best Pot Song," they'll receive the magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award — a high honor indeed for a band that took its name from a particularly powerful strain of LSD.
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