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Blue Öyster Cult

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars As debuts go, this one is pretty impressive. BÖC had a unique sound right from the outset, not really sounding derivative of bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and while there are a few missteps here (She's As Beautiful As A Foot), this remains one of their strongest albums after all these years. The band traverses a wide variety of sounds here, but they all link together with a sort of internal logic that keeps the album from meandering. From the blistering hard rock of "Cities On Flame," to the gentle beauty of "Then Came The Last Days of May" and the zany finale "Redeemed." Along with Secret Treaties, this is about as proggy as the band ever got. "Before The Kiss A Redcap" is a good example of this, and is the highlight of the album. In my opinion, all of BÖC's first three albums are worth picking up, especially if you're interested in the roots of heavy metal.
Report this review (#118809)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's all in the umlaut. The eyes of the ö.

On the verge of the release of their eponimous debut album, it's told that Allen Lanier added the umlaut to the last version of the band's name. After Stalk Forest Group and Soft White Underbelly and a pair of demos for Elektra, they decided to name themselves as the Blue Öyster Cult and were signed to Columbia, helped by visionary and messianic visions of Richard Meltzer and Sandy Pearlman who really gave an important contribution in build up the litterature-conspirational atmosphere in their lyrics.

The hook-and-cross boys released then a strong debut album, featuring many classics as the Buck Dharma's aggressive piece "Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll), rich of dark imagery and crying loud guitars; the fetishesque theme on "Before the Kiss, A Redcap" and "She's As Beautiful As a Foot"; the sad "Then Came the Last Days of May" ("...they couldn't know they weren't going far...").

The sound is obviously rougher than that of the following releases, less keyboards and less gentle arrengements. All in all, it remains one of their best works, I think, since the genuine sound and the freshness of compositions. All their typical elements are here.

Many fans of the heavy and prog metal may find the roots of their favourite genre. An important album, enriched by the interesting bonus tracks on the Sony-Legacy remaster, the old demo recordings for Elektra records, never published before.

Report this review (#119126)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars And so it begins, the long and weird legacy of one of the most unusual rock bands ever, not to mention the most underrated. Blue Oyster Cult never received the attention or recognition of their contemporaries, and listening to this album it's not hard to understand why... even at the beginning of their career, a time where most band's material sounds reminiscent of their childhood idols, BOC's debut sounds distinctly out of time... sure, there are some Sabbathy guitar passages here and there ("Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll") but these are only faint reminders instead of derivative apeing.

No, what BOC do here is startlingly original and unique... whispered vocals from Eric Bloom, who had yet to define his sound, backed eerie psychedelic-tinged work-outs, bluesy licks and strange distortion... all these ingredients are filtered through to some incomprehensible equation and presented to us by a somewhat botched (read: no budget) production job that does little to make this an inviting listen... in fact, it seems almost alien to this planet, aided in no small part by the group's cryptic sci-fi lyrics and unexplained symbolism. It's no surprise that that this band have been underdogs their entire career, even when they flirted with commercial success... the music is simply too esoteric for broad tastes.

In light of the facts here, can there be any doubt to the validity of Blue Oyster Cult's inclusion into the archives? Prog elitists will argue otherwise, but they do so out of ignorance, knowingly only about this band's hit singles... what we've got here is the origins of "the thinking man's metal group" and being how we all here fashion prog as a "thinking man's genre." the boys from New York fit in just fine.

Welcome home.

Report this review (#119875)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This great debut album from the Blue Öyster Cult has very little if any filler. The album isn't very long but still full of classic BÖC tracks. "Transmaniacon MC" is a fine opener. "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" comes originally from the unreleased 'Stalk- Forrest Group' record. Included are also the live favorites "Then Came The Last Days Of May", "Stairway To The Stars" and "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll". All great songs and highlights of the band's career. "Before The Kiss, A Redcap" showcases the band's jazz side. And the rest of the songs aren't bad by any means.

One of BÖC's best and what better place to start from than where it all began.

Report this review (#134906)
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Heavy metal starts to take form.

Emerging form their late 60s phychadellia demos, Soft White Underbelly renames themselves Blue Oyster Cult, and releases a very promising debut. This album showcases a young band without permanent direction, and though it does have pieces that sound like the band eventually would, the most of the album sounds very "searching". One band member very much worth meantioning at this point is the also newly named guitarist Buck Dharma, who is increadably sharp on this recording, both with writting and playing his parts, other members of the band also shine, but not quite as brightly, for example we see a young Eric Bloom here who has not quite found his "voice" yet.

The songs offered on this album are all quite good, and all have thier moments, but some stand out above the rest. TRANSMANIACON MC is a great opener, leading us into the album with some pulsing heavy metal and good performances by all until we're into some storytelling, which is really where the band's progressive essence is. I'M ON THE LAMB... is a good example of this storytelling, though a bit n the midpaced side, and ... THE LAST DAYS OF MAY furthers this troubadoric approach, but in a slower fashion, actually ending up as a huge standout on the album. Some of the other songs are quite well performed, but with some fairly amature sounding lyrics, case in point: STAIRWAY TO THE STARS and SHE'S AS BEAUTIFUL AS A FOOT. Both good, but the lyrics don't hold their own quite as well as the instumentation. Where the biggest standouts on the album lie, however, is with the still- psychadellic SCREAMS, which is an amazing track (and a sound never to be followed up on), and the ever heavy CITIES ON FLAME... (the sound which they would evolve off of.), with it's crunching riff and sharp vocals.

All in all a good album that shows the start of a band with limitless potential, potential that, unfortunately, they'd never truely live up to. They have some good discs in their -ography, and this is definately one of the finer moments. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#136474)
Posted Thursday, September 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars New York City: the capital of raw hysteria with an edgy attitude, not too many progressive bands come from this rebellious metropolis. I can only think of Dream Theater, off hand. The busy bizzy burg bred some odd rock characters, though: Dylan, Velvet Underground, NY Dolls, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie, Television & the Ramones. But Blue Öyster Cult's 1972 debut album (together with the second Tyranny & Mutation and the brilliant follow-up Secret Treaties) exemplifies the sheer mania that permeates the Big Apple culture, where sanity often shacks up with delirium. Long hair, sex, drugs, bikes, rock n roll, RayBans and the whispered taboos ("Dominance & Submission", "She's as Beautiful as a Foot", "Career of Evil") are exhibited without restraint or even any fear of the reaper. This is noisy, gritty, perverse, psychedelic, degenerate, highly symbolic (the first 3 albums have cover art in black and white, use of the umlaut (Ö), the hooked cross symbol unjustly seen as neo-fascist and the fetish black leather tights) heavy rock music that transcended anything recorded at the time, creating a solid buzz in the USA , with England and France equally enthralled. Though perhaps a bit dated by today's hyper-polished standards, their style was so unique that it sounds still awesome now, to these ears anyway. Here are the Highlights: the opening thunderclap, "Transmaniacon MC", is a true Cult classic that needs high volume to truly appreciate the subtlety of raunchy rhythm guitars releasing liquid cascading leads courtesy of Don Roeser, vocalist Eric Bloom's schizoid tone, slyly espousing Sandy Pearlman's somewhat monstrous lyrics and the Bouchard brothers laying down a steady beat. "Then Came the Last Days of May" is a BÖC classic, a bluesy romp full of emotional charge and intensity, crowned by a splendid world class lead guitar solo that expresses the essence of the track. This has been on my all-time tunes list and will not disappear soon. "Stairway to the Stars" is no Stairway to Heaven, a faster-paced rocker than the Zep classic but a fine tune nevertheless, with some typical Cultian dramatic flair. "She's As Beautiful as a Foot" is another oddball gem that chooses rather uncommon fetish subject matter, at a time when whips, chains and dominatrixes where still very much in the underground/basement closet, delivering a short sweaty musical snapshot with some sizzling playing. "Cities on Flame with Rock n' Roll" is, as its name implies, a steamroller track that transcends the cartoonist imagery into a lumbering, guitar-heavy slab of unparalleled rock music.The album cover is a pure gem: a labyrinthine and seemingly eternal maze leading to a BÖC logo in the horizon, surrounded by starry space, all in Black and White, simply Brilliant. 4 buck dharmas
Report this review (#149633)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There´s not much prog rock to be found on this Blue Öyster Cult debut. Actually it is pretty good bluesy hard rock and nothing more. It´s one of those albums though where you feel the band loves what they do, and that is always a treat. As this is a debut the songwriting could have been more refined, but I actually like the rawness.

Blue Öyster Cult sometimes remind me of Deep Purple, without the outstanding vocals from Gillian ( Eric Bloom is a good vocalist, but hey! who in this world can beat Gillian when it comes to hard rock) and it is not hard to hear that Iron Maiden have listened to Blue Öyster Cult.

This is a promising debut, allthough there are no traces of prog here. I haven´t heard anything else from Blue Öyster Cult yet, so I´ll guess the prog related part comes on later recordings ?

Report this review (#155586)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars BOC's self-titled, debut album comes with a very stylish, black-and-white cover, slightly reminiscent of Escher's haunting visual creations. That, and the long, intriguingly cryptic song titles (not to mention the lyrical themes), should be proof enough that they are not your average, run-of-the-mill hard rock band. Though they sound nothing like the Birmingham behemoths, the nickname of 'American Black Sabbath' the band gained soon after their debut clearly shows they had something that set them apart from other American acts tackling the harder edge of the musical spectrum. Their sound, though firmly rooted in classic rock and blues, does possess a quality that is hard to define, and therefore makes them unique.

This album is obviously nowhere as accomplished as its follow-up, "Tyranny and Mutation", and especially the band's undisputed masterpiece, "Secret Treaties". Most tracks are between 3 and 4 minutes long, and the progressive elements that are quite evident in the above-mentioned records are (if any) very few and far between. However, even if not all the songs are equally memorable, there are a few gems to be found - diamonds in the rough, perhaps, but diamonds nonetheless.

Opener "Transmaniacon MC" introduces the listener to BOC's dark, twisted lyrical world (here referencing the notorious Altamont murder), as well to Eric Bloom's gruff, expressive vocal style, and the manic, supercharged guitar work of Donald Buck Dharma Roeser, one of the most criminally underrated axe slingers ever. "The Last Days of May" shows Roeser's more reflective, wistful side, his beautiful, bluesy solo enhancing the sad tale of an escape through the desert ended in death; while Stairway to the Stars boasts one of those memorable riffs the band have become famous for. The powerful mid-tempo of the anthemic "Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll)" sees more textbook riffing, as well as an iconically histrionic vocal performance by Bloom. Finally, "Workshop of the Telescopes" is a clear indication of the direction the band would take on later albums, especially as regards esoteric, sci-fi-influenced lyrical themes.

BOC has its share of quieter moments, in particular album closer "Redeemed", which could be referred to as an embryonic AOR song such as the ones to be found on the band's later output. However, the unifying feature of the album lies in the lyrics (mostly penned by unofficial member and mastermind Sandy Pearlman), which range from the visionary to the downright disturbing - as in the case of "Before the Kiss, A Redcap" or the weird, fetish-inspired "She's As Beautiful As a Foot". Behind the often apparently 'simple' musical structures, lies a dark, exotic, disquieting universe - like the black, starry sky depicted by the cover.

As I stated earlier in my review, don't expect any real prog here. However, that doesn't make the album any less valid, or any less interesting to any discriminating prog fan. Not a masterpiece by any means, but a very solid offering by the celebrated purveyors of intelligent hard rock.

Report this review (#161342)
Posted Saturday, February 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Darkness Descends

Heavy guitars and keyboard layers put me in mind of many of the hard rock groups of the early 1970s, including Uriah Heep, and the essential rock and roll root of the music lets you know exactly where this striking debut from Blue Oyster Cult is coming from - but there's something fresh in the guitar work, and an excitement in the interplay between band members that's almost tangible. This is early heavy metal with an edge - it's not directly from the street, but it's not aiming for the upper echelons of progdom either. That is not the point of BOC.

And so the power of the angular, meandering, tritonic riffs of Transmaniacon MC combined with those organ sweeps creates a dark, swirly atmosphere peculiar to this group alone. As the piece progresses, the well-engineered soundscape reveals sinister tinkly piano lines, as precision pentatonics and octave riff reinforcements swirl from Buck Dharma's fretboard, never interfering with the gasped, gravelline vocals, and it builds and swells into something monumental. Possibly one of the best album openers to date.

The next track, I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep was a bit of a nightmare in the days of vinyl - how many times did the jumping beats make fans wonder if the record was scratched - especially towards the end. And you could bet that if the record acquired a scratch, it would be during one of these moments. This is not your standard rock track - although you could say that about almost anything BOC ever recorded - however, it travels in the guise of a simple rockin' tune. The last minute or so is a real head-bobbing, foot-tapping moment, combing the dark riffs and jumping beats with a jazz-like feel.

Dharma unleashes some beautiful lead to begin the dark ballad Then Came The Last Days Of May, which features a sumptuous melody and vocal harmony line, and some neat changes that twist the chord progression from a simple revisit of All Along the Watchtower into something new and uniquely BOC in flavour, and provides just the right mellow level from which to kick off the monstrous Stairway To The Stars.

Pure heavy rock and roll in flavour, and one of the roughest songs on the album in terms of execution, the verse tells you nothing of what is coming - and then that chorus comes at you - gently at first, but each time it returns, it etches itself deeper on your psyche - the final iteration, following and including more of Dharma's incendiary solo leading to a burn-out that leaves you wanting to hear it over again.

Next up is the bluesy-starting Before The Kiss, A Redcap begins. I've always found this song monotonous, and reviewing it now, that opinion has not changed - but that wicked change to almost trad jazz styled rock around 1:40 makes it well worth hanging in there. The listener is also rewarded with some unexpected and tasty guitar licks too - the twin soloing in the burn-out rivalling Wishbone Ash.

The tempo is brought right down for Screams, one of my favourite tracks on the album. The richly dark atmosphere set by this song is second to nothing in the rock canon thanks, in no small way to the keyboard effects, but also to the phased vocals and deeply reverbed and occasionally feedback- drenched guitar. Reverb, indeed, seems to be the order of the day here, as even the drums are drenched in it.

This segues (almost!) to She's As Beautiful As A Foot (seems like BOC were firing on all cylinders when it came to dreaming up original and inventive track titles - and not just on this album), which is kinda more of the same as Screams - but with a really catchy guitar line couterpointing the vocal melody.

Time for another rocker? BOC thought so too, and so we get this Sabbath-alike opening for Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll. My ears will melt and then my eyes. Oh yes! This is hard rock the way it was meant. Dharma again lights up the skies with his axe-wielding skills, and the piece closes with a nod and a wink towards Deep Purple.

Workshop Of The Telescopes reminds me of She's As Beautiful As A Foot to start, but quickly changes direction - and while a competant enough song, there's nothing that really stands out as comment-worthy. A little Jefferson Airplane flavoured in places, particularly the instrumental, but all-in- all, nothing you haven't heard already on this album, except, maybe, the electronic mayhem that occupies the final 30 seconds or so.

The album closes with Redeemed, a somewhat disappointing Country-flavoured number with, again, a lot of the interesting stuff happening in the last minute or so.

All in all, a very interesting hard rock album with a difference - something you could reasonably say about all BOC's offerings. For fans of that genre, an absolute must - for 1972, this is a real gem, and, as a debut album, it's a complete stunner.

For fans of Prog, though, not a lot to get excited about - but a bit more interesting than your standard rock fayre.

Report this review (#172478)
Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars A successful debut for this raw sounding New York band.They brought a lot to the table back in 1972 with their sense of humour blended with often mysterious and dark lyrics. We get a taste of Hard rock, Psychedelia, Blues and heaviness on this one.

"Transmaniacon MC" has a STEPPENWOLF vibe early (and late) before settling into a vocal / guitar / drum led rocker.The organ comes and goes. "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" features some raw guitar that dominates. The bass and drums are relentless. "Then Came The Last Days Of May" is one of my top three tracks. This one is a more laid back bluesy tune with reserved vocals. The guitar 3 minutes in reminds me of Krautrock. "Stairway To The Stars" is a straight forward, catchy tune. Some ripping guitar in this one. "Before The Kiss, A Redcap" has a good rhythm to it. Some nice bass before 2 minutes. It gets really fun 2 minutes in. Back to original melody before 4 minutes. Nice dual guitar melodies 4 1/2 minutes in. The organ is prominant to end it.

"Screams" is my favourite track. A dreamy intro gives way to a dark guitar / organ melody.This contrast continues. The guitar is great before 3 minutes. Check out the drums to end it. "She's As Beautiful As a Foot" is a psychedelic inspired tune as the title would suggest and a top three for me. "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll" is BLACK SABBATH inspired but the lyrics are far from being that good. Some excellent guitar to end it. "Workshop Of The Telescopes" is better with some interesting guitar throughout. I like it. "Redeemed" is my least favourite. It has an almost country flavour to it. It's ok though.

I like this quite a bit. Some good variety on it as well.3.5 stars.

Report this review (#178381)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This debut album by Blue Oyster Cult came to my ears quite late even though the local music magazine Aktuil who was very influential to the youths in the 70s made a lot of articles about this. This is the kind of band that you might compare with the like of Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple or Uriah Heep .. but I think this kind of music is comparable to bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd even though bothe bands are different.

This debut deals significantly with hard rock music characterized by heavy gutar riffs and guitar melody. The music sometimes reminds me to Lynyrd Skynyrd and sometimes to Frank Marino's Mahogany Rush. The only thing is that BOC music is a bit ambient in nuance. I think this debut album is the best from their albums overall because after this they never be able to create at the same quality as this one. Transmaniacon MC starts heavy and according to my personal taste this is the best song from the album. Then Came the Last Days of May is also a nice track, adrenalin exploder with ballad touch. These two tracks represent good songs from the album, really. Screams and She's As Beautiful As a Foot are recommended also. Obviously from the perspective of the music style you might not consider heavily on this band and or album. But, I think, the music of BOC is worth exploring evn though none of the album really anchored in me. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#181182)
Posted Sunday, August 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars ''BÖC'' was know as a hard / heavy rock band in the early seventies. I will discover many years later ( in '76), their huge influence on some great bands on the New York new wave/ punk scene which I have praised quite a bunch.

I was of course surprised to discover them available for review on PA. But if such is the possibility, I will take advantage to describe their music as faithfully as I can. Needless to say that this album holds a bunch of psychedelia feeling (''Before The Kiss''). Just listen to the gorgeous ''Then Came the Last Days of May'' to fall under the charm.

The mood of this album is rather dark and obsessional (''Screams'', ''She's As Beautiful As A Foot''). The only ''heavy'' feeling is provided by a famous bass play but it is not really invading this album which is more mainstream rock oriented.

There is a permanent care of mixing some fine vocal harmonies and hypnotic music. This combination is quite effective I should say. The tone is of course different with ''Cities.'' which is frankly heading in the heavy territories. But that's what this band is all about, right?

All songs are shortly formatted and several of them sound quite outdated. When compared to other hard/heavy rock giants, this debut falls shy IMO. It is pleasant, but mostly interesting for what it will convey throughout not only the Cult's career, but also to the hordes of metal and heavy bands which will deeply be influenced by BÖC.

Several bonus tracks were added on the CD release. Nothing revolutionary but ''Donavan's Monkey'' is quite ''Velvet Underground'' oriented and some premises of the NY Dolls can definitely be heard. The rock'n'roll revival ''Betty Lou..'' is also fun to listen to.

Three stars.

Report this review (#192841)
Posted Saturday, December 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Proto metal is in the works, but I question their tenacity.

One thing about BOC in the realms of the hard rock of their day, was their ability to write constantly interesting and memorable guitar lines. The vocals, oh these are the worst thing this side of Ozzy, but it doesn't offend like some of the earlier The Who albums. The songs show progression, and the opener is actually a pretty fiery rocker. Everyone is competent, and it is somewhat an interesting track. That guitar is fine, too. Scaling and climbing, a treat, actually.

I'm on the Lamb is another heavy rocker, with a solid pace. These guys really knew how to utilize cohesive writing. So even if the songs themselves aren't that amazing, it is all supplemented by their solid and concise song craft. I must say, that the solos are usually good. They are a strong work out, and they never delve into one note excursions, or hour long wank-fests. The have a bit of groove to them, too. This doesn't mean their lyrics are good, though. They follow the same cliche route as almost everyone else. And talking of lyrics reminds me of the singing, which is not that good. But those guitar lines! Then came...

The Last Days of May, and we are subjected to a softer track, with a hypnotic feel. This is psychedelic rock. Blue Oyster Cult were also one of the most eclectic hard rock bands. Their moods vary, and they do it well. No, at worst, this album doesn't ever feel like it has filler. It is quite a solid debut. Quirky to be sure. Mixing psychedelia, (very) hard rock, grooving rock, and some even more interesting additions. And that guitarist sure knows what he is doing. Stairway to the Stars has that road rage rock down pat, with the drum fills chiming in behind the driving rock. Too bad he song isn't very interesting, in the realms of rock, but the vocals aren't so bad. Shoot them for having the gall to write another song with weak lyrics, though.

Before the Kiss is more rock, but doesn't dazzle me. Maybe it is because they are able to do better on the very same record, and the dancing guitars don't really dance. They just kind of sway. And those vocals are atrocious. Great leads, though. More spacy haze rock follows with Screams and She's Beautiful as a Foot. Processed recording and a strange vibe. Quite strange. Especially in the lyrics department, still pedestrian, though. Then we burn alive.

Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll. Wow, I don't think any band could rock so hard in this era. No other band I could think of could write such enjoyable guitar lines and soloing. No, not even Blackmore, although that particular fellow would go on to do so many great things with the guitar. That chorus is pretty catchy, too. Workshop of the Telescope is average at best, and is a let down form the last song, but the playing has a neat distortion, and the solo is pretty out there. Redeemed is another strange mystery tossed your way. It seems to be a folk rock bluesy tune. Who knows. It isn't too bad, but it isn't great. And, it ads to the overall mystique of the record.

A quirky and rocking debut, where all the musicians are competent, and the guitar playing is very strong. The vocals could be better, and the lyrics are banal. But, this is a great hard rock introduction.

Best Song - Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll

Worst Song - Stairway to the Stars

*** Weak stars.

Report this review (#213002)
Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars First album from this Midwest guitar quintet that were one of the more influential group for metal and progmetal bands of the 80's along with Sabbath (Zep and Purple being hard rock rather than heavy metal). The triple guitar attack Cult of the Blue Oyster (keyboardis Lanier also played a lot of guitar.)put out a series of interesting albums until the 80's, but none were really absolutely essential (IMHO), despite healthy sales throughout their career. Produced by their long-time collab Sandy Pearlman and released on their long-time label Columbia, this first album went by without much notice and acclaim, but it started a loyal following across the US and Canada. Their sound was instantly recognizable due to Pearlman's production, and here he contributes to six tracks, which is more than any BOC musicians.

10 short songs (max 5 mins) make up this almost-classic debut album with its intriguing B&W labyrinth, with some rather interesting songs like the opening Ttansmaniacom, Cities On Flame (a classic concert fave), Screams and Telescope Workshop but there are few spots for the instruments to blow the steam away and interact more loosely than on the tight arrangements of the songs. Only Redcap (the longest track) offers a little breath with a middle section and a welcome organ sound. If some lyrics are sometimes interesting, discussing the future and sci-fi issues, some are simply dreadful, and not just in this album. Despite ballad s like Last Days Of May, th e mood is macho guitar-oriented heavy metal rock with some light spacey moments, somewhat due to the music, but mainly through the lyrics

Hardly prog, very "riffy", sometimes repetitive, BOC's debut is a normal run-of-the-mill rock album that enjoyed the hard and heavy moods of their triple guitar forefront, but it may be a bit difficult today to see nowadays how they might have been groundbreaking or even

Report this review (#227379)
Posted Saturday, July 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars A Cult on flame with Rock And Roll

Being a major fan of both Queen and Black Sabbath, I am always more than a bit puzzled when I hear people comparing these bands with their supposed American counterparts Styx and Blue Öyster Cult. Maybe America did not have more relevant bands for comparison at the time, but counterparts they are certainly not! In order to find relevant British/European counterparts to American bands such as Styx and Blue Öyster Cult we will, I believe, have to look far outside the boundaries of Prog (Related) and Heavy Metal; The Sweet might be a more valid counterpart to Styx and maybe the German Hard Rock band Scorpions might be a more valid counterpart to Blue Öyster Cult!

To my ears, the two first albums by Blue Öyster Cult are pure Rock 'N' Roll and Hard Rock, plain and simple. I find no Heavy Metal or Prog in these albums. As it says in the liner notes 'Albert had designed the crunching guitars of Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll after Sabbath's The Wizard, but there was as much Motor City Boogie and Rebel Boogie as English midland crunch.' And indeed, this particular song with 'Rock And Roll' in its title is ironically one of the least Rock 'N' Roll and the one that comes closest to the British Heavy Metal sound. However, it is a rather pale imitation of Black Sabbath. Overall, I think that Blue Öyster Cult had more in common with fellow Americans Alice Cooper than with British Heavy Metal or progressive rock (I even prefer many Alice Copper albums over this). The songs are all between just under three minutes and just under five minutes in length and leave very little room for any interesting chord progressions or interesting musical ideas.

But let us not dwell too much on the style of the music and move on to the quality of it. I find these Rock 'N' Roll/Hard Rock numbers rather weak in terms of memorable melodies or riffs as well as in interesting musical ideas. After hearing this album, I remember nothing about it. I'm not saying that this music is badly performed or executed; just that it leaves no lasting impression on me whatsoever.

The lyrics are often very silly with titles like She's As Beautiful As A Foot and I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep. It is clear that Blue Öyster Cult had a completely different mindset compared to their British so-called counterparts. Is this a parody of heavy Rock? It is toward the end of the album with Workshop Of Telescopes and particularly Redeemed that Blue Öyster Cult turns in their most interesting compositions of this debut with some sparse keyboards and acoustic guitars. But it is too late to save this album from the lowest rating. The best thing about this album is the intriguing cover art.

Report this review (#227836)
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Blue Oyster Cult's debut is a good one- nothing more. It consists of quality rock and roll music for the time with some redeeming progressive elements thrown in. This is but a shadow of the greatness the band would achieve.

"Transmaniacon MC" This is a blatant contrast of great guitar and goofy vocals. It's a decent opening rocker, but nothing fantastic.

"I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" The rhythm guitar is actually of the star of this jaunty shuffle.

"Then Came The Last Days Of May" One of my favorite Blue Oyster Cult songs- it is no coincidence that chronologically this is the first song featuring the softer lead vocals of lead guitarist Donald Roeser. This song relays the story of a failed drug run- a true story about three collegiate dealers who wanted to score big before the fall semester. Two of them were shot, and the third lived the testify in court against the perpetrators. The music is appropriately "chill," with laidback guitar, hazy instrumentation, and a simple chord progression.

"Starway To The Stars" This is a basic, gritty blues number with piano hanging out in the background and some smoky vocals- nothing special, but a good rocker.

"Before The Kiss, A Redcap" A crunchy dual lead guitar kicks off this one, with Buck Dharma taking the lead vocal again. Unfortunately, except for the guitar playing, this is mostly a forgettable song. However, given the vocals (which sound a lot like Layne Staley here), I think this would have made for a perfect Alice in Chains cover. The bassist enjoys a jazzy solo in the middle, soon joined by guitar.

"Screams" This is a psychedelic number, with heavy effects on the vocals and an arrangement reminiscent of very early Pink Floyd. A brief drum solo ends this.

"She's As Beautiful As A Foot" This oddly-entitled piece begins with the drum solo from before and has some pretty awful singing, even for this early album.

"Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll" A famous precursor to the more famous "Godzilla" (musically, anyway), this has a great guitar riff- something this band has consistently been great for. The vocals and guitar both coincidentally remind me of Joe Walsh. The instrumental interlude is somewhat progressive, with that organ bit and guitar working together.

"Worshop Of The Telescopes" I love the contrast of the clean and distorted guitars on this one- it's a slightly spooky ride.

"Redeemed" Not a bad piece, but somewhat dull overall. The most interesting part is the end as the instrumentation trickles out and then comes raining back in.

Report this review (#240348)
Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars For some reason BOC's debut is my favourite album from them. Maybe it's because it is the only album with some bite, maybe because it's their most bluesy album and slightly touched by the hand of Evil? Or maybe it's because I hear many elements that would be referred to by the grunge generation 20 years later. Still, I'd prefer Mother Love Bone any time to this.

The album starts nicely rocking and bluesy rolling with Transmaniacon MC and I'm On The Lamb, two soft and catchy tunes that might inspire to some rhythmic head nods. My preference here goes to sweet melancholic rock like Then Came The Last Days of May. I can almost hear Alice in Chains performing this. This is even more the case for Before The Kiss, A Redcap.

Screams is my favourite BOC track. It's a tad eerie and sad, quite an a-typical song for them I assume. Love that piano bit. Also She's as Beautiful as a Foot (did they want to win the 'most goofy song titles contest' of that year?) continues the gloomy mood and has some nice instrumental bits but the vocals come off slightly strained. Cities on Flames is probably their heaviest song. Given how soft it still is I always wondered why this band was ever considered as hard rock at all. The album ends with the slightly lesser tunes Workshop and Redeemed.

A pleasant album overall and probably quite an important one, it's not consistent enough for anything above 3 stars though.

Report this review (#262265)
Posted Sunday, January 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Unlike it's followups, Tyranny and Mutation and Secret Treaties, the first BOC album has never been one of my favorites. I am a huge BOC fan, but this is one album I rarely play. Even the best tracks on here I find to be better on the live On Your Feet or On Your Knees(my favorite live album of any group and an awesome title too!). This album also has a "filler" problem with some tracks not being really up to snuff- "Im the Lamb...", "Screams", "Shes as beautiful as a foot", are just poor BOC tracks with little inspiration. However, there are also some great tracks here- "Last Days of May" (The first of Buck Dharma's many softer singing songs with BOC which is also a classic live), "Transmaniacon MC", "Cities onFlame" (the first of many BOC classic guitar riffs), and "Redeemed". I enjoy all of my BOC titles in some way, but this one does not really show the fully developed Blue Oyster Cult that would appear as the years went on. This album is a bit rough and raw and bluesy- with their real skills undeveloped yet. But still a fine debut album. 3 stars
Report this review (#279995)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I remember an article on a number of the comics magazine "Heavy Metal" in the 80s. It was about the relationship between Satanism and Rock. After chapters about the usual beatles, Led Zeppelin and so on there was a paragraph entitled more or less "Those who Satan took the piss for a ride" (I don't know if it's the right translation but I hope it gives the idea), and just below, a photo of a live gig of BoC.

The meaning is that even if the band can be considered one of the predecessors of the heavy metal and one of the first to have lyrics explicitly speaking of Evil, if we don't consider the Rolling Stones, they didn't have a big success. I think they have scored just one song in the US top 20 (Don't Fear The Reaper) in their whole career.

The band was featuring one of the most skilled rock guitarists of that time, Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, and Patti Smith was the girlfriend of Allan Lanier so she was used to hlep the band by composing lyrics (Career of Evil on this album) or singing (The Revenge of Vera Gemini on Agents of Fortune).

Said so, this debut is not very heavy. It's rock, sometimes hard, but it's strongly influenced by the acid generation. Guitar solos like the ones on Stairway to the Stars, or the intro of Transmaniacon MC can be called hard-rock but when they are not hard the connection with the New York's underground is evident: Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, John Cale and so on.

A note for the swing section of "Before the Kiss a redcap". It's one of the first things that I've learned to play with the bass so I have a particular feeling for this song.

The album contains also "slow" songs with bizarre titles, like "She Was Beautiflul Like A Foot". This and "Screams" are the songs that I like less. Probably because when I bought this album I was looking for rock while those two songs are probably the most progressive together with "Workshop On The Telescope".

A mention goes to "Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll", the heavier track, the one that deserves to be defined as hard rock and another to "Redeemed" and "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep". Two songs very different but which represent a touch of the direction that BoC will take later.

Now the rating: It's not easy for me. I really love this album (and the three following ones) but I'm not sure that it's an excellent addition for anybody. They are not very seminal, as Deep Purple and Black Sabbath as well as Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep were already around. I'd like to rate it with four stars, but honestly I have to stay on three to fit into the PA standards.

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Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The debut Blue Oyster Cult album leans more towards a hard rock approach than the proto- metal that would be unleashed on the next disc, but in terms of atmosphere it occupies a very similar place - murky, moody, with dark shadows and sinister goings-on just out of sight. Certainly, material like Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll, Workshop of the Telescopes and Stairway to the Stars with their brooding, slow, sinister guitar and sneering, mocking vocals are a great start, though I'm On the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep lacks power this time around and would return in a faster and punchier rendition as The Red and the Black on the next album. There's also a couple of slightly uncharacteristic songs on here which help vary things up a little - Redeemed is an unexpectedly sunny song for the band, whilst Then Came the Last Days of May is a blues-rock lament about a drug deal gone wrong with some beautiful, almost Clapton-like guitar work. On the whole, a fantastic start for the band.

Progarchives users should be warned that it's not very proggy - but, as I always say, if it were it wouldn't be categorised here in prog-related, so I won't mark it down for that. Taken by its own standards, it's a strong four-star album.

Report this review (#486852)
Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Every band has to start from somewhere. Some can hit the ground running, and others need a few years to get it right. Blue Oyster Cult is in the second half of bands even if there is a slight ''cult'' aura surrounding their debut.

My experience with the group was feeling okay about their hit album AGENTS OF FORTUNE (I actually like lots of the album), then immersing into SECRET TREATIES and hoping that the debut would fall in line with the third album. That, my friends, is called relying too much on wishful thinking. What BLUE OYSTER CULT the album is, is a confused, directionless mess.

Good moments can break through the ice, but whole song consistency is rare on this album unlike SECRET TREATIES where it was hard to hit the skip button. One notable exception to all exceptions on this album is ''Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll''; the song is mean, sinister, it has a fantastic riff to sink your teeth into, and it is a strong song in general. If this song had the SECRET TREATIES production, boy would I babble on about this tune?

Speaking of, the production is quite lackluster; it doesn't really bring the full potential of the band out. Songs like the proggy ''Screams'', the riff-tastic ''Stairway to the Stars'' and the closer that makes the album sound complete ''Redeemed'' could have been truly great had they been produced properly.

The rest of the material (including bonus) is just plain weird. Neither of Buck Dharma's contributions really do anything (''May'' and ''Redcap'') other than try to bring soft rock and country into the album, albeit subtly. There are other tracks like ''She's as Beautiful as a Foot'' and ''I'm on the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep'' that upon listening, are only amusing for the MadLib-constructed titles; there's nothing musically satisfying about either song, nor the bonus tracks ''What Is Quicksand'' and ''A Fact About Sneakers''.

Thankfully for rock audiences, by albums three and four, BOC pulled out all the stops and gave the world a fantastic album followed by a monster hit single.

Report this review (#801550)
Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The whole "biker rockers dabbling in the occult" deal got off to an atmospheric start on this debut. Oddly enough, the album cover is a completely apt representation to the album's contents, being linear yet spacey. Reverb is everywhere, softening up the distorted guitars and endowing the drums with with a floating, drifting aura. It's a really unusual production for this sort of music, and it actually works in a strange way as it gives this album a lot of character and a truly unique vibe.

"Transmaniacon MC" is a great opener with a cool riff, introducing that combo of hard rock with spaced-out trippy leanings in grand fashion juxtaposed with Eric Bloom's strange ramblings involving bikers, Satan, rock performances in a weird haze. Personally I consider it one of their gems. Other winners include the eerie "Screams" and its segue into the even creepier "She's as Beautiful as a Foot", in which the 'echoey' production aids in establishing an uncanny aura. "Then Came the Last Days of May" is classic rock ballad mystery with some fantastic guitarwork and pleasant vocals by Buck Dharma. "Cities on Flame" is probably the best known track, and certainly one of the hardest as well with its mammoth riffs (though tempered by the mix).

It's not all great, as "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" (gotta love these titles), though kind of cool in its own way, would be transformed into an absolute barn-burner on their next album. Overall, though, this is a pretty cool album, with a heightened sense of moodiness that often overrides aggressive posturing. Not exactly the true representation of their sound, but easily worth grabbing. Honestly though, their first three albums (the Black and White trilogy so to speak) are all pretty damn killer in their own diverse ways.

Report this review (#1464848)
Posted Friday, September 18, 2015 | Review Permalink

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