Blue Öyster Cult (Columbia) 1973
BOC's debut is a hard rock classic. The band mix an early heavy metal sound with a spacy, almost psychedelic rock sound. The albums most well known track is The album's best known track is undoubtedly "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll", which according to Albert Bouchard was originally called "Siren Singalong". I read on-line that this song was inspired in part by MC5's "Motor City is Burning" and King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man". This song is still a concert favorite three decades later. However, the rest of the tracks here are equally interesting. "Stairway to the Stars" really stands out in my mind as one of the finer tracks. Transmaniacon MC" and "Workshop of the Telescopes" are both fan favorites as well.
On this album, as would be common on future BOC albums as well, the lyrics were mostly penned by other writers or in collaboration with other writers. In this case the lyrics were penned by avant-garde writers Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer. The band's lyrics were often tongue-in-cheek wit, sarcastic, symbolic, and bizarrly occultic. The problem with this was it created a false facade that the BOC guys were occultists. Certainly they were no Christians, but neither were they out to convert the world to occult.
Blue Öyster Cult - Tyranny and Mutation (Columbia) 1973
1. "The Red &
The Black" (4:20)
B.Ö.C.'s second disc is a bit less 'psychedelic' and 'spacey' than their debut although no where near the mainstream heavy metal that the band would be known for in the late 70's and early 80's. Some songs take on a early punk and rockablily sound, although there is no mistaking the gloomy, classic, hard rock/heavy metal sound that was started on the first album. I can remember a time when Blue Öyster Cult was compared to Black Sabbath. The opening track is probably the most well known on the albu, although "Hot Rails to Hell" was a concert favorite as well, and one that helped fuel the fire for B.Ö.C. being devil worshippers.
Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties (Columbia) 1974
1. "Career of Evil"
The band's third album was their most popular yet. At this point B.O.C. were a big concert draw and bands like KISS were opening for them. (That would certainly change in a few years.) This album was considered a great disc at the time, and certainly growing up with this band, I enjoyed a trip through nostalgia-land listening to it again. However, I also noticed just how thin the production quality was. Also, I remember this disc as being quite heavy, but in reality, this is keyboard drenched 70's hard rock. However, for it's time it was a pretty heavy disc. There are several concert classics such as "Astronomy," "Harvester of Eyes," and "ME 262". I have read several times from past and present B.O.C. members that this is one of their favorite discs.
Metallica covered "Astronomy" on their Garage Inc. disc.
Blue Öyster Cult - On Your Feet or On Your Knees (Columbia) 1975
1. "The Subhuman"
Hailed by fans as one of the best live albums ever recorded. Certainly these beefed up, heavier versions of BOC classics are superior to the studio versions. That's one thing I have always appreciated about live albums, especially of bands from the 1970's. That raw energy that just cannot be captured in a studio is somehow captured when there is a crowd. I would even go so far to say that the songs actually sound tighter and more disciplined than on the original studio versions. I am sure this is due to the relentless touring the band was doing at the time. Blue Oyster Cult were at the top of their game here and recorded this album when they were selling out huge venues across the globe. The odd thing is, this was all without a hit single. The band's first big hit, "Don't Fear the Reaper" was released long after this live CD. This live version of "7 Screaming Dizbusters" helped solidify the band as "devil worshippers." Yes, every anti-rock preacher now had proof positive that these guys were ministers of Satan as the band announced that "I know Lucifer so well I call him by his first name...I say, 'Hey Lou!'" Of course the fans knew this was nothing more than Eric Bloom's bizarre sense of humor.
The CD release of "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" is severely lacking. First of all the packaging doesn't even come close to the original vinyl version and the mastering is far lower than the standard. Then there is this annoying screech heard between tracks. This is certainly an album that is long past due for remastering.
1. "This Ain't the
Summer of Love" (2:20)
"Agents of Fortune" is the fourth studio album by Blue Öyster Cult and became one of the band's most popular records, selling platinum. Much of this was based on the single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", which was a huge hit for the band. Decades later and this song is still a staple of FM rock station playlists.
Lizzy Borden covers "(This Ain't) The Summer of Love" on his "Deal with the Devil" album.
Blue Öyster Cult - Spectres (Columbia) 1977
"Spectres" had some big shoes to fill after the breakthrough release of "Agents of Fortune". All in all, I think the band lived up to the challenge. They created one of their most well known hits with "Godzilla" and also gave us firey songs like "R.U. Ready 2 Rock" and the classic "Golden Age of Leather". This song is especially cool in that both Buck and Eric sing at the same time. "Fireworks" and "Nosferatu" were obvious attempts at using the formula that worked so well with "Don't Fear the Reaper." While they may not be as memorable, these songs are actually quite good as well. For 1977 the production was quite good as well.
Blue Öyster Cult - Some Enchanted Evening (Columbia) 1978
1. "R.U. Ready 2 Rock"
The band's second live album. With only seven songs it's more like a mini-LP or EP, but for some reason I have always really liked this one, despite the fact that "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" and "Extraterrestrial Live" are probably better live albums sheerly by the number of songs alone. Still, this one has some nostagic hold on me. It's just one of those albums that were always blarring at parites and such when I was a teen. (Argh! Dating myself again!) Anyhow, it's got 2 songs from Agents, 2 from Spectres, a VERY pretty version of "Astronomy", and two cover songs: MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" and the Animals' "We Gotta Get Outta This Place". All seven songs are excellent. Essential listening for any B.Ö.C. fan. This is one of the few B.Ö.C. CDs that ever seems to show up in the used bins.
Blue Öyster Cult - Mirrors (Columbia) 1979
1. "Dr. Music"
"Mirrors" is a very uneven album in my opinion. Rock, pop, and even a touch of early new wave. It sounds to me like they were really trying hard to get the rock radio success of "Don't Fear the Reaper" and ended up with an album that was not their best. "You're Not the One (I Was Looking For)", for instance, sounds like something that might have worked well had it been on a album by the Cars. The standout cut here is "I Am the Storm", which is classic BÖC rock. This is one of those songs that begs to be re-recorded by some heavy metal band, although I have yet to hear anyone cover it. Overall, "Mirrors" is not a bad album, but it doesn't rank at the top of the heap either.
Blue Öyster Cult - Cultösaurus Erectus (Columbia) 1980
1. "Black Blade"
After some flirtations with more light-hearted pop on "Mirrors", Blue Oyster Cult toughen up their act and put out what is probably their heaviest album, Cultosaurus Erectus. The twin guitars of Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom were wisely returned to center stage here. However, that is not to say that the band didn't do a little experimenting here as well. The heavy and otherwise Black Sabbath-ish "Monsters" has a jazzy saxophone break in the middle that throws things off and "Deadline" is pure radio-ready pop rock. For the most part, however, Cultosaurus is 1970's heavy metal/hard rock. Helping the band to achieve the heavier sound is Whitesnake/Deep Purple/Black Sabbath producer Martin Birch. I believe it was Martin who pushed the band into more guitar heavy realms, which was a great decision. While this album didn't neccessarily produce a "hit" it became a fan favorite. Martin completely took out the female backup singers, the pop song structures, most of the keyboards, and replaced them with lots of guitar solos and a heavy, beefed-up rhythm section. To promote this newer, heavier sound, BÖC even went on tour with Black Sabbath. (As I recall this tour was called the Black & Blue Tour. Clever, eh?) Lyrically, the band returned to the weirdness of thier early albums as well, with some sci-fi and occult themes. I must also mention that I think this is one of the coolest album covers ever. That little creature on the cover is so cool! Perhaps a bit to sci-fi and nerdy for some metalheads, but I have always liked it. There is a full body drawing of the Cultösaurus Erectus on the back cover as well.
Blue Öyster Cult - Fire of Unknown Origin (Columbia) 1981
1. "Fire of Unknown
Fire of Unknown Origin is arguably Blue Oyster Cults most focused, hard rockin' record. Of course the band did have a little help from producer Sandy Pearlman as well as Richard Meltzer and Patti Smith who helped with the lyrics, as did science fiction/dark fantasy writer Michael Moorcock. This album contained one of the bands biggest hit singles, "Burnin' for You" which is a killer song indeed. However, this CD is actually packed full of excellent, solid songs. Other favorite are "Heavy Metal: The Back and the Silver", the haunting, glammy "Joan Crawford" and "Veteren of the Psycic Wars." This last song has some terrifying images of apocalyptic war set to some excellent guitar work by Eric Bloom. "Fire of Unknown Origin" ranks among my favorite BOC discs.
Blue Öyster Cult - Extraterrestrial Live (Columbia) 1982
1. "Dominance and
Blue Oyster Cult's third live album in less than a decade, their second double live album and debatably their finest. The band had just had a hugely successful release in "Fire of Unknown Origin" and was constantly touring at this point in their carreer. Because of this the band was tight and the material here is some of the best material in the band's decade long existence. However, I think the song selection could have been a bit better. A few more cuts from the ultra-heavy "Cultösaurus Erectus". After all, several of these songs had just been released only a few years ago on the single live album "Some Enchanted Evening." Features new drummer and ex-lighting engineer for the band Rick Downey.
Blue Öyster Cult - The Revölution by Night (Columbia) 1983
1. "Take Me Away"
Certainly not one of BOC's finest moments. Produced by veteren rock producer Bruce Fairbairn (Loverboy, Aerosmith), I suppose I was expecting a bit more from this album. What Bruce has achieved is to make Blue Oyster Cult a bit too slick and sound like any number of 1980's radio rock bands. Opening track "Take Me Away" starts things off with promise. This is actually a memorable, commercial, hard rock song and was co-written by Aldo Nova. Concert anthem "Let Go" is also a good song with self-serving lyrics. Likewise "Shooting Shark" is a good, moody song with lyrics by Patti Smith. However, for the most part the rest is rather forgettable.
Blue Öyster Cult - Club Ninja (American Beat/Sony) 1985
Blue Öyster Cult - Imaginos (CBS) 1988
1. "I Am the One You
Warned Me Of" (5:03)
This fantastic album was over 20 years in the making. In fact, "Imagnos" started out as a solo project by drummer Alan Bouchard and producer Sandy Pearlman, but apparently Sony would only release it if it was released under the BÖC name. So they got the rest of the band together to perform on it and released an instant classic. There are several guest stars on this CD includng Aldo Nova, Joe Satriani, Robbie Krieger (The Doors). What BÖC have succeeded in doing here is bringing back the Marshall stacks and squeezing their butts into some leather pants again, because "Imaginos" is a heavy album. Many fans hail this CD as the band's finest hour, even outdoing those classics from the 70's. I am not sure I can agree with that opinion, as I haven't lived with this CD as long as I have those classics. However, I can agree that "Imagnos" was a fine return to form for the band. Most notable on this album is the bold reworking of their "Secret Treaties" classic "Astronomy." This song is given a fresh sound, although I am still not sure I like the the new version better than the original. Likewise, the song "Blue Öyster Cult" is quite good and fits well on this CD. Apparently "Imagnos" is a concept album, although I have honestly not spend enough time investigating the story to give an overview of what it's all about. Unfortunately this disc is out of print and one of the most sought after discs in the BÖC catalog. It is in definite need of a remastering and rerelease.
Blue Öyster Cult - Heaven Forbid (CMC International) 1998
1. "See You in Black"
It seems with any band with a history as long as Blue Öyster Cult's, there will be fans that totally praise a new release and those that won't like it now matter how good it is. I can understand part of the frustration that fans feel, but the fact is, times change, people change and it's just not the 1970's anymore. With that in mind, this CD is actually a good offering from BÖC. For some reason, despite being a longtime fan myself, I ignored this release and didn't finally acquire a copy till nearly a decade after it was released. The good thing about this is that I got to hear this album fresh without all they hype. On first listen, I think that "Heaven Forbid" is BÖC doing what they do best, rocking out! Some of the songs on here are actually pretty heavy, at least as heavy as BÖC gets. The opening track and "Harvest Moon" are immediately likeable songs that rock pretty hard. "Harvest Moon" in particular reminds me of that weirdness and melody that made the band's first three albums classics. "See You In Black" is a heavier song with a fierce riff. Past lyricists Sandy Perlman and Richard Metzler are long gone, replaced by novelist John Shirley. In "See You In Black" Bloom aggressively sings out Shirley's lyrics which tell a story of a man who wishes to see his female friend's husband die because the husband beats her. This song, along with the aforementioned "Harvest Moon" are most definitely standout cuts on this CD. However, "Damaged" is an equally cool song with a distinct 1970's feel, due in part to the keyboards which are mixed way up. The keyboard solo in this song is particularly cool. "Real World" has a slight Southern rock feel thanks in part to the acoustic guitar and the funky, bluesy guitar playing. Even the re-recorded version of "In Thee" is a decent offering on this CD, although this song has never been among my favorites. So, I guess I am one of those who is going to praise this release. OK, perhaps it doesn't top their classic catalog. Did anyone expect it would? However, it is still a solid effort and an enjoyable listen.
Blue Oyster Cult - Curse Of The Hidden Mirror (CMC International) 2001
1. "Dance On Stilts"
2001 saw the reunion of core Blue Oyster Cult members Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, Eric Bloom, and Allen Lanier along with drummer Bobby Rondinelli and bassist Danny Miranda. The result is "Curse of the Hidden Mirror". Unfortunately "Curse of the Hidden Mirror" is a somewhat mundane BOC release. It has it's moments and certainly isn't bad, however, for the most parts it's a bit dull and lacks the consistency of their back catalog. "Pocket" and "Stilts" are the two strongest tracks in my opinion. I also thought that "Eye Of the Hurricane" recalled the classic BOC sound. "Showtime" almost has a reggae vibe to it. The rest of the material plods along and is mostly mid-paced, 70's inspired hard rock with an almost bluesy vibe. It's a bit odd because "Heaven Forbid", which was released only a couple years prior was easily one of Blue Oyster Cults finest. On a positive note, the production is absolutely stellar with each instrument being heard clearly and the overall sound being very crisp.