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Blue Öyster Cult - Imaginos CD (album) cover

IMAGINOS

Blue Öyster Cult

 

Prog Related

3.74 | 64 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A project 20 years in the making, Imaginos is certainly a work of art. While it may not have scored huge numbers in sales, due mostly to Blue Oyster Cult's [BOC] record label not advertising the thing, the album is still a cult hit, with many discussions and arguments about it to this day. Regarded by all to be a Blue Oyster Cult album it's fairly common knowledge that this is not entirely the case. Started in 1967 as an idea by producer Sandy Pearlman, music had been written by drummer Albert Bouchard and had been previously used on the band's album, Secret Treaties. Intended to span the course of two or more Albert Bouchard solo albums their record label would only release the album with the entire band's involvement and only as a single album.

It would be a while until the album was actually released, and when it was it was labeled a BOC album, since by then the rest of the band had re-recorded and added their own parts. The actual line up of musicians to grace the album is also something often discussed, as it's something that not even the band themselves apparently know or would like to solidify. The Sony BMG remaster [American Beat Records 24682] of the album even states (and I quote) ''The credits for Imaginos are a great topic of discussion amongst fans as well as the band itself, so the reissue supervisor has gone to great lengths to find the credits. Still, there may be some omissions and/or improper credits listed.'' Despite the confusion, among the guest musicians are some fairly impressive names. Guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani, lends his lightning fast fingers to the mix on the track SEIGE AND INVESTITURE with a blinding solo as well as some very dark and appropriate riffs that compliment the style of BOC well. Also present on the same track is Joey Cerisano, the world's most famous anonymous vocalist. His vocals are very present in the song and very powerful. Familiar in sound to someone like Dio, this singer is very easy to recognize. but from where? Apparently Joey has made his career doing non-band things, such as singing on beer ads and whatnot. Again, confusing, but his presence on the song is a very welcome addition and he does a truly great job. There are many other guests on the album, but going into that would only make this review longer than it's already getting.

While the album is known as a concept album (and in some cases a Rock Opera) the story itself is yet again another topic of great discussion. Since the original idea was much compromised thanks to record labels and other factors there is doubt to whether the story is told linearly or not. While it's fairly clear that it's not there are also discussions as to if the story IS in fact told linearly if the character is capable of time travel. Crazy-ness, you say, well, not entirely so. The story itself (in a nutshell) is the story of a boy named Imaginos who is born with supernatural abilities to change shape at will and see through time is watched by the Seven ancient Mayan Gods who eventually take control of the boy after he dies and is resurrected by the God's Cult, the Blue Oyster Cult. There's a lot of conflict that goes on regarding supernaturally powered mirrors and objects to that effect, but the end of the story is that the boy Imaginos, born in 1804, starts World War I as a cause of his actions. Very confusing, I know, and the story in the album itself doesn't help to listen to because really the story is very much out of order, time travel or not. However, this is very forgivable, because the album does not fall into the category of ''too into the story. can't concentrate on the music.'' as so many other concept albums have. By now you're likely dying to know what the music sounds like. This album is likely BOC's most solid outing to date. While previous albums have walked on the border of good and great with only a few weak tracks holding them back this one jumps over the line and does a victory dance on the side of greatness. Clearly a lot of work has been put into the musicianship of the music (something I'd hope from a project 20 years in the making) and everything that's great about the BOC emerges. Crunching riffs, soaring melodies, dark and evil lyrics, the BOC's all here and dispute or not, this is a great album by them. As with their 70s releases, BOC is at their best when the music is heavy. The album kicks off with a deep drumbeat and dark guitar riff as I AM THE ONE YOU WARNED ME OF starts off. While slower in pace than previous albums such as, say, Tyranny and Mutation, this album doesn't suffer at all from it. BOC found a niche here, and it's unfortunate that they didn't about a decade before hand. A great mixture of synths and guitars in the middle of the song are great to hear and Buck Dharma lets loose a flying solo. Classic stuff.

Continuing on the slow and heavy the album marches on. LES INVISIBLES, voiced by buck, is a great highlight. Creepy and dark guitar and synth riffs with some soaring vocals and well-used backing vocals make this song a great standout. IN THE PRESENCE OF ANOTHER WORLD is much in the same vein, heavy and dark. Some nice pianos are thrown into the mix here and there's some great progressive speed changes in about the song as it moves along. A wonderfully infectious riff kicks in and we're on our way.

Shifting tone a little bit is DEL RIO'S SONG. This one more on the upbeat sounding side the song is a little bit weaker than it's predecessors, but has many redeeming qualities to it. Great vocal melodies and synchronization make up for the fairly weak chorus, and the guitar reminiscent of BOC's mid-80s albums actually make for a great backing addition to the song. Luckily as well there's a harsh shift in speed near the middle of the track that leads into a great guitar solo coupled with well placed chanting that brings the song right back down to earth from wherever it was going.

THE SEIGE AND INVESTITURE OF BARON VON FRANKENSTIEN'S CASTLE AT WEISSERIA . is a very long song title. However, it is a song that brings us right back into the darkness that is the album. Likely the least BOC of the songs (considering that the lead guitar and vocals aren't members of the band), it still packs a wallop of a punch. Joey Cerissano does some wonderful vocal work and Satch plays to his heart's content. Excellent track.

Nearing the end of the album is a familiar song. ASTRONOMY, the classic from BOC's Secret Treaties album is reworked and given new life on this album. Shot down by many and proclaimed not as good as the original, this version actually has quite a charm to it. Voiced by Buck Dharma instead of ol' Eric Bloom, this version promises to intrigue even the most hard-core BOC fan. If you always liked the vocals on (Don't Fear) The Reaper more than the vocals on Transmaniacon MC then you might enjoy this version of the song. However, regardless of who's at the vocal helm this is still one of BOC's most accomplished and, indeed, progressive songs. Characterized by the same chilling tone and lyrics that it's always had the song still sounds great over the course of it's complexities, driving bass lines and guitar solos. Fantastic.

Another chugging guitar riff comes in and introduces the next track, MAGNA OF ILLUSION. Speckled with synths and pianos with some very interesting lyrics and narration, this is one of the tracks that really demands the listener's attention. Listening to the track casually may lead to interesting results, since if you want to attempt to ''get'' the story, this is the track to do it on. Done very well, the story telling elements of the track do not at all interfere with the musical prowess of the song. Not at all basic in structure, this is a good song for the average prog-head.

Closing off the album is the self titled track and the title track. BLUE OYSTER CULT is actually a clever renaming and reworking of the classic ''Subhuman'', again from Secret Treaties. This is an excellent rendition of the song, used this time more in the context of the overall story than it was in it's previous life, and is still one of the band's more progressive tracks, toying with all the progressive elements that BOC usually does. IMAGINOS itself is an interesting song. Much more upbeat and fast than any other song on the album, as well as fairly pop-rock-ish thanks to it's beatarific pacing and saxophone. Still a good song, if maybe the weakest of the mix.

What should this album get then?

4.5 stars. Not quite a progressive masterpiece but definitely something well worth owning. Perhaps the most ill fated record to ever grace the sands of the earth, this one is very much overlooked. Perhaps a bit of a gimmick, in that repeated listens of the album make one wish to know more and more about the story, which is a really mind blowing thing to read about in the first place. Not to mention that people who like to know every thing about a band (line-up changes, ect.) will likely fritter away the rest of their lives trying to dissect just this one album. Never the less, the music contained on this album is something of legend, BOC at their very best. Being that it dances on the border of progressive and heavy metal this one is recommended for fans of heavy prog, prog metal, BOC fans and anyone who likes a good concept album.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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