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Blue Öyster Cult Imaginos album cover
3.82 | 131 ratings | 12 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Am The One You Warned Me Of (5:04)
2. Les Invisibles (5:33)
3. In The Presence Of Another World (6:26)
4. Del Rio's Song (5:31)
5. The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Weisseria (6:43)
6. Astronomy (6:47)
7. Magna Of Illusion (5:53)
8. Blue Öyster Cult (7:18)
9. Imaginos (5:46)

Total Time: 55:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Eric Bloom / lead vocals (1,3,4)
- Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser / guitars, lead vocals (2,6-8)
- Albert Bouchard / guitar, percussion, lead vocals (8), co-producer
- Allen Lanier / keyboards
- Joseph Bouchard / keyboards, backing vocals

- Marc Biederman / lead guitar (1)
- Joe Satriani / lead guitar (5)
- Robby Krieger / lead guitar (7,8)
- Aldo Nova / guitar
- Kevin Carlson / guitar
- Tommy Morrongiello / guitar
- Jack Rigg / guitar
- Phil Grande / guitar
- Tommy Zvoncheck / keyboards
- Kenny Aaronson / bass
- Tommy Price / drums
- Joe Cerisano / lead vocals (5)
- Jon Rogers / lead vocals (9)
- Shocking U / backing vocals (3,9)
- Jack Secret / backing vocals
- Daniel Levitin / backing vocals (uncredited)

Releases information

Artwork: Arnold Levine with Simon Marsden (photo)

LP Columbia ‎- C 40618 (1988, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 40618 (1988, US)

Thanks to Windhawk for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Imaginos ratings distribution

(131 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Imaginos reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Imaginos, Blue Öyster Cult re-grouped (Albert Bouchard is finally back - only for this one, though) to complete an almost twenty years old project. Imaginos, a concept album thought to disclose the long incubation of a disease named First World War.

Myths, dreams, poison, invisible forces, illusions that were already parts of the imaginery of their memorable album Secret Treaties. Too much fragmented then, much more coherent, now.

It's not a case that new versions of tracks like "Astronomy" and "Subhuman" (retitled in "Blue Öyster Cult") are included in the new record. Ok, not at the level of their glorious predecessors (especially for Astronomy). Convincing, anyway.

Musically the album is metal oriented (obviously in a strong 80's mood) with many tasteful melodic parts underlined by keyboards. Way more interesting than anything from their recent past. To be noticed the help of a guitar orchestra made of "The State of Imaginos" (of the many Robby Krieger and Joe Satriani).

An excellent record that has to be re-discovered. The last great album by the Cult.

Review by 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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Since several fellow reviewers described the genesis of this album quite well, this won't be a repetition but only a description of the music which sits here.

After the disastrous ''Club Ninja'', this album sounds as a jewel to my ears. It is indeed an excellent heavy- rock album (''Les Invisibles'') combined with vibrant musical passages of which ''The Siege And Investiture?'' is one of the best examples.

This album is very consistent from start to finish: no silly pop-rock as they have at times abused from; instead some catchy rock music (''Astronomy'') which was already available on their excellent ''Secret Treaties''.

The mighty ''Magna Of Illusion'' is also pretty impressive: vocals, choirs, heavy beat and crying guitar à l'unisson. Not a lullaby of course! Another remake is also available under the name ''Blue Öyster Cult''. This version of the hypnotic original is much longer (by 50%). It sounds less psychedelic but more spacey and mysterious. A nice version should I say. Fresher as well.

In all, this album is very pleasant (seven out of ten). I will upgrade it to four stars. This is a fine come back after all.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Join the Blue Oyster Cult

Just before "Imaginos" was released, the mighty Blue Oyster Cult had been in disarray, a shadow of their former powerful selves. With the departure of some key members, the spark seemed gone forever ? as witnessed by their previous, rather lacklustre release, 1986's "Club Ninja", held by many as their weakest recording effort. However, the completion of this 20-year-long project (originally conceived by drummer Albert Bouchard and mastermind Sandy Pearlman) brought the original members of the band together for what was destined to be their last really great album (in some ways, even their masterpiece), and certainly one of their most progressive offerings.

The very elaborate concept behind "Imaginos" was at least partly inspired by HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, and crafted in order to provide an 'alternative' explanation for the onset of World War One. The titular character is a 'modified child' with supernatural abilities, whose story is told (though not in order) in the nine songs on the album, and foreshadowed on two songs featured on the "Secret Treaties" album - "Subhuman" and "Astronomy". Both are present on the album, the latter with a different musical arrangement (in my view inferior to the original, and way too 'Eighties' for my tastes), the former rewritten as "Blue Oyster Cult".

Such an intriguing, grandiose concept needed to be implemented accordingly. Therefore, the five members of the band brought on board a number of other musicians, including the 'Guitar Orchestra of the State of Imaginos', an impressive array of lead guitarists that included The Doors' Robbie Krieger (who had already guested on BOC's "ET Live"), and six-string wizard Joe Satriani. The result is a rich, majestic sound that fits the storyline like a glove, immediately noticeable from the first strains of opener "I Am the One You Warned Me Of," which sets things off with a bang. In comparison to the somewhat limp-wristed nature of the band's previous two albums, "The Revolution by Night" and "Club Ninja", there is an exhilarating sense of energy to be felt here. Even the poppier items, like the sax-driven title-track (which closes the album on a somewhat cheerful note, in spite of the rather disturbing lyrics), or the even more upbeat "Del Rio's Song" (possibly the album's weakest link) seem to barge in with a sort of assertiveness approached by none of the compositions appearing on the above-mentioned albums.

Vocalist Eric Bloom - one of the most distinctive (and underrated) voices in rock ? is at the top of his game, belting out the obscure lyrics with self-assured forcefulness. On the rousing "The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria", Bloom is flanked by guest singer Joey Cerisano - the song climaxes with a haunting chorus of "World without end", and Joe Satriani's blistering solo contributes to making the song even more memorable. Buck Dharma's gentler, more restrained voice does the honours on "Les Invisibles", though the song itself is anything but reassuring, with its sinister synth effects and guitar work, and its insistent, almost obsessive repetition of the word 'seven'; while "In the Presence of Another World" is a dark-hued mid-tempo, almost ballady at times, with a thundering, yet oddly catchy chorus stating that "Your master is a monster".

The true highpoint of the album, however, comes towards the end, with the double whammy of "Magna of Illusion" and "Blue Oyster Cult". The former, named after the mysterious obsidian mirror that Desdinova (the new name given to Imaginos by his rescuers, the human servants of 'the Invisible Ones') finds in a jungle in the Yucatan, and which, kept for twenty years in his attic, poisons the minds of European leaders before the outbreak of WWI, is a triumphal, keyboard- and guitar-laden march related from the point of view of the protagonist's granddaughter. "Blue Oyster Cult", on the other hand, is as creepily addictive as its earlier version, "Subhuman", with an anthemic close celebrating the occult nature of the band's name as originally conceived by Sandy Pearlman.

BOC are also known for the often outstanding cover artwork of their albums, and "Imaginos" is no exception - the über-Gothic Victorian mansion poised on a cliff on the background of a stormy sky aptly conveying the sense of mystery and menace implicit in the whole story. It is a pity the lyrics have not been included in the CD reissue, though they can be found on the band's website. At any rate, this is an album of epic proportions that, despite its 'Eighties-style' production (rather evident, for instance, in the drum sound), will appeal to both hard rock and prog fans. Although not quite as perfect as "Tyranny and Mutation" or "Secret Treaties", it is nonetheless deserving of a very solid 4.5-star rating.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This was BOC's real return to Progressive Rock. Many reviewers have already done a great job of going into detail about the album, so I mostly just want to add my opinion about this album. It is probably their loudest album being very guitar driven, but not to the point of the big haired 80s style of the time. This is a very intellectual album and even includes a "remake" of a few of their songs from the "black and white" album years. I love the remake of "Astronomy" almost better than the original as they update it here and take away the older sound of the song. "Cleaning up" a song like this usually doesn't sit well with me, but I think they did an awesome job of this one. The second remake is the song "Blue Oyster Cult" which is actually a remake of "Subhuman" is not as good however and I would have preferred that one was left alone. Overall, though, this is definately a great album and unfortunately is often forgetten. I would suggest searching this one out. I would also love to find it on vinyl, but as of yet, have not been able to.
Review by Warthur
4 stars With Blue Oyster Cult in the doldrums, manager Sandy Pearlman convinced them to stay together for just one more album in order to record his magnum opus - Imaginos, a concept album based on a horror story concept by Pearlman, which Pearlman had been workshopping with exiled original drummer Albert Bouchard for much of the mid-1980s.

In principle, this would have been an excellent idea... if they'd done it as a followup to Secret Treaties, when they were in their prime. (As a matter of fact, Secret Treaties consisted of ancillary material surrounding the Imaginos legend, so that'd have been a neat way to follow it up.)

As it stands, the version of Imaginos we got is in effect Blue Oyster Cult's equivalent of Music From the Elder by Kiss. Both are concept albums which were intended to be the first part of a trilogy. Both had their running order screwed around with and flow much better when you resequence the tracks back the way they're supposed to be. Both involve lots of session musicians and only questionably involve the actual bands they are attributed to at all. Both have wild horror-fantasy-SF plotlines.

The big difference is that Kiss were truly unsuited to this sort of project, whereas at least Blue Oyster Cult's usual style fitted the endeavour. The best way to enjoy Imaginos is to not get too hung up with it sounding like Blue Oyster Cult or involving Blue Oyster Cult musicians, and instead taking it for what it is: Sandy Pearlman having a wild old time turfing out some banging hard rock numbers in the studio with session musicians and whichever combination of Blue Oyster Cult members (and ex-members in the case of Bouchard) were willing to talk to each other that day.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Name one BOC song - The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Weisseria.... or something like that.

'Imaginos' is one of Blue Oyster's Cult's more accomplished albums following the blazing start of their first 3 albums. It begins with some powerhouse rock on 'I Am The One You Warned Me Of' which is an astonishing tour de force for Dharma's lead break finesse, and there are killer riffs throughout. It is definitely a key track for the band on this album setting the tone for the heaviness to come. 'Les Invisibles' follows, riffing along nicely, with very cool vocals and tons of searing melodic passages. 'In The Presence Of Another World' is acoustically driven at first and then launches into a brilliant heavy guitar riff. It is an incredible track building on a solid structure falling between metal and AOR, with calming acoustic vibrations and ear melting distorted riffs. The extended coda is absolutely wonderful and sets this song above the others.

'Del Rio's Song' has a huge drum tempo, heavy guitar, and pleasant vox. It sounds very bluesy, and tends to grow with a melodic hook. The lyrics are a weak point here but the smoking axes of Dharma and Bloom are irresistible.

'The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Weisseria' is really a great title to remember when quoting BOC tracks. The drums pound loudly and there is a spacey synth, balanced by a massive riff. The heavy vocals are very much like old school metal, in the year when metal was king; 1988. There is an insane piano run and the lead break harmonics are delightful. The tempo gets faster with a power metal riff, and then the lead killer axes mash your ears to pulp. The coda is bizarre with piano crashes, choirs, and all manner of time sigs.

'Astronomy' is a re-run of the track from 'Secret Treaties' and it is this version that appears on all the BOC compilations. The Pink Floyd style riff of Gilmour is striking. The lyrics begin 'the clock strikes 12' and we are well into a grand riff, with a wonderful melody. It has a radio friendliness to it but is such a cool melody. The lead break is glorious and there is a wall of sound that builds.

'Magna Of Illusion' has a pleasant chugging riff, with very good vox. The lead guitar is dynamic and there is an inventiveness to the structure featuring some grandiose narration. 'Blue 'yster Cult' is a moderate tempo softer track, with a great lead break. The AOR feel is prominent but it is cool to hear them sing, 'Blue Oyster Cult, we understand, we understand, we understand', though it is a bit repetitive after the first few times.

'Imaginos', the title track is pure rock, but not up to the standard of the other tracks. BOC set the bar so high it is obvious when a song just flops. This has a disco feel in a way and very dancy, so not a great one for this album, more like a fish out of water. The lead break is soaring but overall this is a blemish on an otherwise excellent album.

So at the end of this, I believe the album should rate quite highly among the other studio releases for BOC. It has enough on offer to appease the rock addicts, and is full of innovation, deserving at least 4 stars for the aforementioned reasons.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This album reminds me how much I have removed myself from standard rock music since I bought this album (cassette) back when it was released. The cassette was soon replaced with CD and I really enjoyed the intelligent heavy AOR on this album...... and Blue Oyster Cult in general. These d ... (read more)

Report this review (#337972) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A perfect end to The Oyster boys legacy A really good Album, theres a lot of the 80s on the production but its still a great concept album. All the tracks a pretty enjoyable but not really prog, but its still a good concept album. One of the things is in understanding it is the tracks are out ... (read more)

Report this review (#291252) | Posted by Scizoidman94 | Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "At the terminal point, of the Cul-de-sac....!." Along with Spectures, I consider this my favorite BOC album. Which is ironic, in that this is not really a BOC album. Or is it? It is 20 years of rock planning from Bouchard, and it works! The story behind the concept? No idea. I even found a w ... (read more)

Report this review (#271549) | Posted by mohaveman | Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Being a long-time BOC fan, I was thrilled when this album came out, as it had seemed that they had gone the way of the Reaper as a band. Once I listened to it, I was just as pleased, but equally confused. The best news is that it holds up years later as a very strong release by the band. The firs ... (read more)

Report this review (#130564) | Posted by DantesRing | Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First of all, this isn't exactly a Blue Öyster Cult album...the original ideas behind this record were first formed by Al Bouchard and Sandy Pearlman as far back as the late 60's, and this was never intended to be a BOC album until the label insisted. Even then, it was truncated from its original ... (read more)

Report this review (#123201) | Posted by Nipsey88 | Thursday, May 24, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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