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Blue ÷yster Cult

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Blue ÷yster Cult Agents Of Fortune album cover
3.24 | 235 ratings | 24 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. This Ain't The Summer Of Love (2:20)
2. True Confessions (2:56)
3. (Don't Fear) The Reaper (5:08)
4. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) (3:42)
5. The Revenge Of Vera Gemini (3:52)
6. Sinful Love (3:29)
7. Tattoo Vampire (2:41)
8. Morning Final (4:30)
9. Tenderloin (3:39)
10. Debbie Denise (4:13)

Total time 36:30

Bonus tracks on Columbia remaster (2001):
11. Fire of Unknown Origin (Outtake) (3:29)
12. Sally (Demo) (2:39)
13. (Don't Fear) The Reaper (Demo) (6:19)
14. Dance the Night Away (Demo) (2:37)

Total time 51:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Eric Bloom / lead vocals (1,4,7,9), guitar, keyboards, percussion
- Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser / guitar, synth, percussion, lead vocals (3)
- Allen Lanier / keyboards, guitar, bass, lead vocals (2)
- Joseph Bouchard / bass guitar, piano, lead vocals (8)
- Albert Bouchard / drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, harmonica, lead vocals (5,6,8,10)

- Patti Smith / vocals (5)
- Randy Brecker / trumpet (5)
- Michael Brecker / sax (5)
- David Lucas / vocals, keyboards & percussion (all unconfirmed), producer

Releases information

Artwork: Lynn Curlee

LP Columbia ‎- PC 34164 (1976, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 34164 (1986, US)
CD Columbia ‎- CK 85479 (2001, US) Remastered by Vic Anesini with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to mellotronman for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy BLUE ÷YSTER CULT Agents Of Fortune Music

BLUE ÷YSTER CULT Agents Of Fortune ratings distribution

(235 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BLUE ÷YSTER CULT Agents Of Fortune reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Easily the most overrated B÷C album, mostly because of the radio success of the admittedly great Don't Fear The Reaper. However, that track aside, I find little of interest here. It's disappointing to see the band steering away from its more heavy metal sound towards a more radio friendly pop/rock. Even within the pop framework, they would be much more successful with later albums like Mirrors. Side 1 has a couple of redeeming tracks, such as "This Ain't The Summer of Love," which is a fine rocker, but Side 2 is completely disposable. "E.T.I." is widely championed as a great song, but I've always found it completely forgettable. Those of you familiar with B÷C from the radio would do better to start with Mirrors or Fire of Unknown Origin, others should start with any of the three "Black and White" albums.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I remember well when this album came out and it was probably very much the flavour of the day for a USA band to be this inventive ( progressively speaking). 1976 was almost the turning point for a lot of bands for a change in direction yet BOC has only achived this on their fourth album with Agents Of Fortune so were only in the maturation stage to what they would progress with.Others may well have preferred their first three studio releases.

It is a good album but has dated somewhat. It sounded a lot better in the 70's and is more rock orientated as opposed to progressive. Reminds me a lot of Spooky Tooth, especially ' Sinful Love' and ' Tenderloin'. Other good songs are the commercial ' Don't fear the reaper' and E.T.I. Overall though the songs are too short to ever really develop into something grandiose.

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With Agents of Fortune Blue Oyster Cult reached their first commercial success. Obviously it had a cost, in term of music. In fact their usual aggressive appeal has been tempered a lot, even though the opener could make you think not. All the album flows very well from start to finish and there are some great classics in it as the immortal "Don't Fear the Reaper" penned by guitarist Donald Roeser and the catchy "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" with the involving riffs and choruses. Two great tracks, no doubt.

All the composition are written and thought to gain wider recognition on the US' billboard. Lanier's "True Confessions" is also a valid proof of that and is, as the other songs mentioned above, a good and enjoyable tune based, this time, on piano.

Collaboration with Patti Smith continues, now she even gives his vocals in duo with Albert Bouchard on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini". She also co-wrote the good acoustic ballad "Debbie Denise".

This is probably the most important album in their career, from a commercial point of view. After it, the band went on top of the US' scene. Unfortunately at the cost of reduce their thinking-man-hard-rock vein to a thinking-man-hard-pop vein. Very good, by the way with a more relevant role for keyboards, if you ask me. But if you want to discover the true spirit of this band you may search from their so called "black and white" period (1972-1975).

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Blue Oyster Cult is a legendary US-based hard rock band; known to play "heavy metal for the thinking man" back in the 1970's; although few would call any of their songs heavy metal in this day and age when even Black Sabbath are considered mainstream rock by many. "Agents of Fortune" is the fifth release by the band, and commercially one of their most successful releases.

Musically this album is all about rock and hard rock; played and performed in a traditional manner. Few of the songs are adventurous in structure or form, and many are clearly aimed towards being radio friendly. The AOR tag fits quite nicely on this release due to that.

With melodic tunes, extensive use of piano, synths and hammond; melodic and mostly calm vocals as well as a mostly laid back guitar sound the end result is an album clearly aimed at the mass market.

The songs are a mixed lot here though. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is the clear highlight here, sounding just as good as ever. "This Ain't the Summer of Love" and "E.T.I." are also strong tracks; sounding as good now as they did in 1976.

"The Revenge of Vera Gemini" and "Tattoo Vampire" are nice tracks as well, but the rest of the songs here really doesn't sound too good in my opinion. Worst of the rest being "Tenderloin"; which in my opinion is a song best forgotten.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Things ain't what they used to be... isn't it funny when artists sum up reviews in their own songs?

Blue Oyster Cult's most commercially successful album in hindsight was the start of the epitaph that would eventually become the band's own grave, but it's great none the less. The album always draws flak from critics and fans alike while the same fans and critics praise the grounds that this alum walks on. It certainly is a monumental album from one of it's time, thanks in no small part to the colossal hit (DON'T FEAR) THE REAPER. While this one song did more for the band than anything else they'd done before or previously could ever do for them it did certainly spin them in a totally different direction, perhaps creating a sense of abandonment from the fans. All of this aside, the music from the album is what's on trial now, so lets get right into it.

Starting on the same heavy metal note that they'd so generously helped to develop over the 70s, THIS AIN'T THE SUMMER OF LOVE is a true rocker. Like many songs on the album, it is fairly simple in structure and lyrics, something strange for this thinking man's rock group. It's counterpart (The Red to Summer's Black) TRUE CONFESSIONS is a bit more complex in structure, but just as short and still fairly simple. These two songs are really just the intro to the album, and work fairly well together to introduce the album as a whole.

THE REAPER is next on the list and there's not too much to say about it. This is a brilliant song that can be found in Top Lists hanging around with Stairway To Heaven. Definitely the band's masterpiece song, a perfect combination of soft vocals, catchiness, darkness and a wicked guitar solo somewhere in the middle. Truly a classic and an essential track, and almost progressive, really.

The album starts to rock from here, back to the routes, but with more complex melodies. ETI is a great song with an excellent riff, while THE REVENGE OF VERA GEMINI follows closely in structure and sound. MORNING FINAL is another good track with some cool melodies, as is TENDERLOIN, despite some of the flak it takes sometimes.

There are a few weaker number on the album, these are the ones that definitely point to a more commercial direction for the band. SINFUL LOVE has some cool piano and guitar, but the backing vocals on the chorus are a tad annoying, not to mention that the chorus itself was none too strong to begin with. TATTOO VAMPIRE is an alright song that's, again, too simple and too short with nothing too fantastic to comment about. DEBBIE DENISE is a decent ballad-esque song with an interesting story that's a bit too slow for the album and not a terribly wonderful closing track.

In the end, this is the album that got the cult a bit confused with themselves. Spectres and the ultimate commercial album, Mirrors would follow this one, and never again would the band attain such success off one album. This album is good for the fans of the Black and White period of the band, but it's not their best album by a long shot. Still good, this album is a 3 for prog fans. Classic rock fans and metal fans alike will likely want to see this album given a 4.

So, let's see...

ProgArchives rating: 3/5 - A good album, but not necessary for your progressive music collection. I do recommend that you buy it for at least (Don't Fear) The Reaper, Morning Final and ETI.

Everyone else: 4/5 - Excellent addition to the rock and roll goers collection. Nice and heavy with hints of commercialism that gives it an interestingly melodic sound while still sounding raw in some tracks.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars BOC's fourth studio album is where the band started pursuing a more polished, radio-friendly direction than the blend of raw power and sophistication displayed in the 'black and white' trilogy. Though their choice was rewarded with the commercial success of both the album and the massive hit single, "Don't Fear the Reaper", their earlier fans could not help being somewhat disappointed with this sudden change of direction. Personally, I find "Agents of Fortune" a more than adequate effort, which nevertheless suffers in the comparison with its mighty predecessors.

Diehard proggers will find little of real interest in "Agents of Fortune", as in the two studio albums that followed it ("Spectres" and "Mirrors"). Most of the tracks are short and quite catchy, even slick, as in the case of "True Confessions" (my least favourite song on the album). Opener "This Ain't the Summer of Love" is a standard hard rocker in the mould of the band's debut album, while closer "Debbie Denise" is an unusual romantic ballad, written in collaboration with Patti Smith. "Don't Fear the Reaper", which has occasionally been included in prog compilations, boasts an immediately recognizable, killer guitar riff, and intriguing lyrics about love and the survival of the soul - definitely uplifting in spite of the subject matter. "E.T.I.", a catchy mid-tempo, is another slice of intelligent, poppy hard rock, enhanced by Buck Dharma's brilliant guitar work.

Most of the other songs are competent enough, and a pleasant listen, but ultimately rather nondescript - with one exception, the only track on the album that could be called progressive, the chilling, sinister "The Revenge of Vera Gemini", which features Patti Smith sharing vocal duties and songwriting credits with drummer Albert Bouchard. The song's lyrics follow in the tradition of such cryptic masterpieces as "7 Screaming Dizbusters" or "Subhuman", and the music is an oddy compelling mixture of accessible and dark, spiky elements.

The bonus tracks included on the remastered edition are quite interesting, especially the original version of "Fire of Unknown Origin" (another Smith collaboration, with different music than the title-track of the eponymous album), and the acoustic, instrumental version of "Don't Fear the Reaper".

Even if it was undoubtedly a step backwards, "Agents of Fortune" will provide a pleasant listen for those days when our ears need something not too demanding, but still of high quality. Just don't expect a lot of prog, or even the driving hard rock of the band's debut.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While on the third album "The Secret Treaties" they sounded something like commercial, this "Agents of Fortune" confirmed that their sound is somewhat towards more pop-oriented material. It's hard to consider this album under heavy metal or hard rock category if we compare it with the previous releases. One did not expect Blue Oyster Cult to sound like this: heavy but calm, manic but confident, melodic but rocking. Every song on the first side is commercially accessible without compromising the band's malevolent stance.

Blue Oyster Cult has built their musical journey on a series of brutal non sequiturs. Initially, these took the form of a group image of not that good (or ugly) music by some music critics. Patti Smith co-wrote Debbie Denise and The Revenge of Vera Gemini, that provides BOC with the area to seek popularity in the burgeoning commercial punk rock sweepstakes. Another thing is the fact of increasing influence of Allen Lanier through the songwriting of True Confessions and Morning Final.

Overall, it's a good album even though it's not in away better or worse compared to previous albums. For some people, this album is weaker than previous releases. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The band is heading to a softer angle after the great and wild rocking ''Secret Treaties''.

Some AOR orientations with the short opener ''This Ain't The Summer Of Love'', a pure Stones oriented track during ''True Confessions'' are for sure no weak songs but they can't compete either with the best of their previous album.

I was a bit squeezed with the short format of most of the tracks featured on this album. Their popish and easy listening ''Don't Fear The Reaper'' might well be they biggest hit, but I was never under the charm to be honest. It is so far from their genuine music.(at least this is how I felt). The best chunk of this song is the brilliant (but short) guitar break which highlights this track during the middle part. I've read some comments that compare this little tune with ''Stairway To Heaven''. Huuuumm???

The sound of the band is much more polished than ever. And I can't really endorse this. When I listened to ''E.T.I.'', I really wondered what happened. Some sort of ''hard rock'' for teenage US girls probably. Quite weak actually. You know which key to hit to avoid these useless sounds, right? (you can hit the same one while you''ll reach ''Morning Final'').

For an old freak as I am, it is of course quite a ride to listen to first few words from '' The Revenge Of Vera Gemini''. Patti is of course immediately recognizable: she sounds as wonderful here as during the intro of the incredible ''Land'' (from the wonderful ''Horses'' album). She is also providing some fine backing vocals throughout the track. My fave from this work, but I am totally biased.

The Cult has dramatically changed their sound since ''Secret Treaties''. No great hard to heavy rock any longer. Crafted and secured rock music, highly commercial (''Sinful Love''). But it is of course difficult to judge a band because they decided to sound more commercial (tons of bands have been doing this so.).

Still, this album can't hold the comparison with their previous release and not even with their earliest material. This is at best a good album. An AOR and rock combination highly tinted with pop influence ('' Tattoo Vampire'').

I will upgrade this album to a three star level (from five out of ten), but not thanks to the country stylish closing track. ''Debbie Denise'' which is definitely not the best track of the Cult available, believe me!

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars My introduction to BOC, and I believe many of my contemporary mates, Agents Of Fortune is IMHO one of the most over-rated album in rock's history. Actually I'm glad to see that most progheads rate it much lower than the general public. Marred with a clumsy gambling/magician artwork, but still played by the original line-up, produced by the original Pearlman on the original Columbia label, AOF received excellent review and achieved massive sales, and is probably still their best-selling studio album.

Obviously having the massive (but again over-rated) hit Don't Fear The Reaper in its tracklist was a reason for those healthy sales. By all means, Reaper is a good track that should've achieved moderate success one of those consolidating tracks to vastly superior tracks like Astronomy and such, but certainly not this emblematic track that symbolizes BOC, even nowadays. As for the rest of the tracks, besides the now-obligatory Patti Smith collaboration, most of the other tracks are either pointless or brutally mediocre (Ain't The Summer Of Love), with only ETI pulling its longer straw from the pack. Rumours has AOF was a conceptual album, but I never cared enough to find out what this might be about.

Coming in recent reissue with a bunch of unrelated bonus tracks (except for a Reaper alternate take), most of them coming from ulterior albums, they certainly don't add anything to the original album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Agents of Pop fortune

After the good (but far from excellent) Secret Treaties, came this very disappointing album. Blue ÷yster Cult was never a Heavy Metal band, but even if that label was always misleading, it was at least more intelligible when applied to the band's earliest albums. Agents Of Fortune is certainly not anywhere near Heavy Metal as they go far towards Glam Rock and Pop with this album. It reminds me of the sound of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust period or Alice Cooper in their/his most poppy moments.

Blue ÷yster Cult learned with their previous album to write more melodious songs compared to their melodically weak two first albums. But here they went too far in that direction. This is mostly overly accessible music and I find it to be mostly without substance. Several songs are below the three minute mark and the longest track is actually the super hit (Don't Fear) The Reaper with its modest five minutes. However, we should be happy that these songs are so short because they are not very interesting to listen to. Whatever progressive tendencies there were on the band's previous albums, they are completely abandoned here. Anyone looking for something progressive on this album will inevitably draw a blank.

The production is also radically different from the bands earliest albums. While those albums were quite rough sound wise, the production of Agent Of Fortune is glossy and seems aimed at Pop fortune. Ironically, (Don't Fear) The Reaper does not have that feel and that became their biggest hit. This song is, of course, a Rock classic and by far the best song on this album. It is admittedly a rather simple song, but I like it! But one good song doesn't make a good album.

This is not a poor album in the sense that it was badly made. It is actually a half-decent Glam Rock album. But this is just not my cup of tea. Apart from (Don't Fear) The Reaper and possibly E.T.I (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) I find no enjoyment while listening to this album. The next one, Spectres, is much better.

Worth getting only for (Don't Fear) The Reaper.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars Fortunate for those who wish to hear ''Don't Fear the Reaper'' in the comfort of their own homes. All of that classic guitar riffage and spaced out vocal stuff whenever we want, or for those from the current generation (me inclusive), you get to hear the song that inspired the ''Cowbell Sketch''. But AGENTS OF FORTUNE is more than that cowbell.

The rock here is a bit more intelligent than your standard rock album. Maybe here, not enough to categorise as ''prog'' (at the time of writing, this is the only album of BOC's that I'm remotely familiar), but it's a different take from the redundancies of sex, drugs, booze and rock-n-roll. From what I know, Patti Smith helped collaborate on a couple of songs, so that may explain something about the ''cerebral-ness''.

There's plenty of material to fetch from this album. For me, the pumping ''Vera Gemini'', the smooth ''Morning Final'' and the punchy ''This Ain't the Summer of Love'' are the three strongest songs off of the album, followed closely by the cowbell song. In fact, I don't think there's a weak track excepting ''Debbie Denise''; a bit too slow. It's scratchy to figure out how much prog is here, but this is an outside-the-ordinary hard rock album definitely worth a spin.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars I have to shake my head when I hear some people tear down this gem of an album. I just don't understand sometimes why people just don't get it, even those that say they are BOC fans tend to say it's one of their least favorites. I suppose it may have something to do with the fact that I bought this years ago and that it was my first BOC album. Yes I'll admit I knew nothing about BOC but damn I sure am glad that this was my introduction to what became one of my favorite bands of all time. I still listen to it and get shivers. I truly thought there was no music like this anywhere else out there.

This music was so imperfect, yet it's imperfection made it beautiful. It was so different yet captivating. I bought it for two reasons; 1) I loved (Don't Fear) The Reaper just like anyone else did, but everytime it came on the radio, I hoped it would be the non-edited version so I could hear that uncanny bass/guitar interplay. I believed then and still do that it is the most evil sounding instrumental section ever. Yet the singing was so almost spiritual and naive sounding. These two sounds together still make me shiver. 2) I loved the radio spot for the album where they said that this album should be illegal. Yes it was just hype, but it intrigued me. How could music be illegal? Well, I was pleasently surprised when I heard the entire album...that sound of "spiritual" evil and naitivity were constant through the album. And I've been able to find that sound in all of their albums and I still love it. I love the contrast. That's why I fell in love with this band and this album.

"This Ain't the Summer of Love" and "True Confessions" flow into each other beautifully and the songs are somewhat similar, yet individual in their own ways. The guitar in TAtSoL and the sax in TC almost mimic each other in a sly kind of way in each individual instrumental section. Have you ever noticed the drunken sound of the piano in TC? I love it! I can't help it. These things have been discovered with the many repeated listenings that I have had of this great album. "The Revenge of Vera Gemini" sounds almost like it belongs in a warped western soundtrack like some wacky LSD version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or something. "Tattoo Vampire" is great and I love it's imperfections that make it so much more gothic sounding. "Tenderloin" just moves me especially the guitar solo. Everything is so great in this album. But the thing that keeps me coming back is all the imperfections, not the so called "radio friendliness" that everyone claims this album has so much of. Stop thinking about whether this was truly their attempt to become more radio friendly, I only wish the radio would play more imperfect music like this. Listen to it for what it is. Raw, perfect in its imperfection, evil, and beautiful

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I borrowed this album from the central library just to satisfy my interest in this highly acclaimed band behind the name Blue ÷yster Cult. Considering that (Don't Fear) The Reaper is probably the most recognized song of their career this Agents Of Fortune definitely felt like the place to start.

Let me begin by saying that even in my wildest dreams could I never have imagined such a weird list of songs supporting the one gem of this album. This Ain't The Summer Of Love sounds almost like an Arena Rock tune with a real Spinal Tap feel to it. True Confessions is a forgettable country sounding rocker that I could have done without. Having said that there is still nothing terrible with these two tracks from a straightforward rock music kind of perspective.

At least once (Don't Fear) The Reaper hits the speakers I get five minutes of pure musical bliss. Unfortunately the rest of the album doesn't feel on par with that one great track since most of the songs are pretty straightforward and have no real appeal to my ears. I guess it doesn't always pay-off to pick up an album just because of some familiar tunes featured on them. The next time I'll get around to Blue ÷yster Cult I will probably go for Secret Treaties since it's considered to be a much more representative album of the band's style.

Until then Agents Of Fortune remains collectors/fans only material that I'll be happy to return to the library since I'm not going to waste more time on this album than what I already have. In other words this is definitely not a record I would want to pay a late-fee for!

***** star songs: (Don't Fear) The Reaper (5:08)

**** star songs: Morning Final (4:30)

*** star songs: This Ain't The Summer Of Love (2:20) True Confessions (2:56) E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) (3:42) Sinful Love (3:29) Tenderloin (3:39) Debbie Denise (4:13)

** star songs: The Revenge Of Vera Gemini (3:52) Tattoo Vampire (2:41)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Agents of Fortune is an odd album. It mostly consists of boogie rock similar to what ended up on their second album, but this time it's polished to suit arena rock formats.

It's not that I can find anything particularly wrong with songs like Summer of Love or ETI but it's all just too feathery for me. Other songs like True Confessions, Debbie Denise and Tenderloin are simply weak. Strangely enough, amidst the mediocre material sits one entirely different song, The Reaper one of the most amazing classic rock songs ever. Also Vera Gemini retains some of the magic that happened in that remarkable flash of inspiration. It has a gothic feel that kind of reminds me of early Christian Death material. (A strange twist of thought I admit.) Also Sinful Love and Tatto Vampire are entertaining.

I wouldn't recommend this album, you sure have the one track that matters on one or other compilation. Instead check out the debut or Secret Treaties. 2.5 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Agents Of Fortune' - Blue Oyster Cult (5/10)

So this is 1970's heavy metal?

The actual album aside, this shows how far music (specifically the aforementioned genre) has come in it's diversity and extremity. Although Blue Oyster Cult certainly has a bit more of a cutting edge then their typical 'classic rock' contemporaries, they seem to craft a 'just-slightly-heavier-than-usual' brand of '70s rock.

'Agents Of Fortune's claim to fame is undoubtedly the psychedelic anthem 'Don't Fear The Reaper' was I will not lie, is a fantastic track. Very well composed with a trademark guitar riff and some shimmering melodies and harmonies, this track is what convinced me to check this record out. Unfortunately, the other songs on this album don't compare to the single; made very surprising by the fact that this is considered by many classic rock fans to be one of the best rock albums ever made.

When the first track came rolling around, I was unsure if it was even the same band that had played the song I was already familiar with. 'This Ain't The Summer Of Love' sounded almost like a Rolling Stones b- side that had never been released; the vocals had gone from being soft to being a near carbon copy of Mick Jagger. However, as the actual music goes (regardless of comparisons to other bands,) it is a pretty rocking way to open up a rock album. Some of the latter tracks such as 'Tenderloin' and 'E.T.I' scramble up to higher levels of artistic exploration. 'E.T.I' in particular has grown on me alot; there are some great upbeat riffs to be heard there, as well as a great solo in the typical classic rock vein.

I'm not going to recommend this to everyone; especially people thinking this is going to be 'prog' or 'metal.' What this is for the most part is competently executed hard rock, and a refreshing middle-of-the-ground area between the highly complex art rock and laid back pop of the area.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars The appeal of this album is the legendary track "(Don't Fear)The Reaper". It is in my opinion one of the best tracks i've ever heard in my life.The crazy thing is that you wouldn't even know this was BLUE OYSTER CULT performing it. It sounds nothing like them, in fact they've never made a song that sounded like this again. Maybe it's because it was the first track that Donald Roeser had recorded with his then new in home reel-to-reel four-track recorder. He spent 6 to 8 weeks on it and he knew he had created something very special. It was a song about the after-life which was brought on after Donald had some health problems and he started to think about his own mortality. He claims it's about a romance that could endure beyond the death of lovers. It sounds like a song encouraging people to committ suicide which just adds to the intrigue. I remember hearing this song first back in 1976 or it might have been 1977, I just remember I was still in High School. We actually didn't get an FM Rock station in Toronto until 1977 so it could have been that year. I always thought it was a late sixties song, in fact it wasn't until many, many years later I found out it was released in 1976. I've heard people call this the best song that THE BYRDS never wrote.The guitar sounds so good especially when he lets it rip after 2 1/2 minutes during the instrumental section.

The rest of the album is average at best. "This Ain't Summer Love" sounds like a shot at a hit single. It's less than 2 1/2 minutes and quite energetic, it's just not that good. "True Confessions" is the worst song on here in my opinion.The Brecker brothers help out on horns at one point. "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" isn't too bad. My favourite part is the guitar that comes in before 3 minutes and continues right to the end. "The Revenge Of Vera Gemini" is really the only other track besides the one I went on and on about that does anything for me. Patti Smith adds some vocals to this one. "Sinful Love" opens with piano as guitar and drums join in.Vocals follow and there are female backing vocals on the chorus. "Tatoo Vampire" has a punk flavour to it. Not a fan. "Morning Final" is catchy with piano, drums and vocals standing out. I like the guitar after 2 minutes. "Tenderloin" sounds good but I don't like the chorus at all. "Debbie Denise" is a catchy mid-paced tune. I like it.

3 stars only becaue of "(Don't Fear)The Reaper".

Review by Warthur
4 stars Though it's now my all-time favourite Blue Oyster Cult album, I didn't like Secret Treaties at first - it took more than a few listens before its subtleties became apparent and I really started getting into it.

Similarly, whilst I really liked Agents of Fortune on the first few listens, after a while its star diminished in my estimation considerably. An album of slick pop-metal, there's no doubt that this one helped the band get wider attention - you've probably heard the cowbell-heavy Don't Fear the Reaper a dozen times by now - but it can come across as a heaped collection of hard rock cliches.

Of course, they're cliches in part because this album shaped the genre so much, but at the same time it's undeniable that this is the dawn of a poppier strand of music in BOC's catalogue, and there was a while when I was so deeply immersed in their more esoteric early style that that bugged me. I've come around again on it now, having aged into a point where I can appreciate a good pop number now and then, but at the same time I don't think it's the top-tier classic its predecessor was.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As an album, Agents of Fortune is a shoddy thing, with half of the tracks exuding rock and roll clichťd cheese. On the other hand, it contains some of Blue Oyster Cult's greatest songs. It's a mixed bag.

"This Ain't the Summer of Love" The opening jingle moves from horror rock over a thudding beat in Billy Idol style to barrelhouse boogie.

"True Confessions" The second song moves into corny countrified whiny rock that folks like David Bowie dabbled in.

"(Don't Fear) the Reaper" A radio staple, Blue Oyster Cult's flagship song has Donald Roeser's calm presence on lead vocals. The haunting interlude disrupts the flow of the piece but adds a layer of horror needed in an otherwise beautiful rock song about death. The mournful lead guitar motif at the end is stellar.

"E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" This has always been one of my favorite Blue Oyster Cult songs. It has a remarkable riff on par with the greatest guitar riffs in rock history, excellent vocal contrasts between the verse and chorus, wonderful harmonies, and a bitching guitar solo. I much prefer the rerecorded version on Cult Classic, however, as it's much harder and cleaner.

"The Revenge of Vera Gemini" Yet another dark rocker, this fifth track adds the shadowy vocals of punk singer Patti Smith and boasts a sinister organ.

"Sinful Love" This gritty rock number has a sizzling guitar solo (perhaps one of Buck's best).

"Tattoo Vampire" Up next is a terse rock and roll bit of bombast. There is a Halloween-like feel to the music, and for some reason I'm reminded of the hokey nature of "Monster Mash."

"Morning Final" "Morning Final" returns to the phantasmal side with Roeser at the microphone, symphonic verses, and jazzy interludes.

"Tenderloin" Despite the meaty title, this song retains an ethereal nature with dazzling keyboard and guitar.

"Debbie Denise" Very different from the rest of the album, this twelve-string acoustic-based closer features light vocals and a synthesizer that sounds remarkably like a Mellotron.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "This is the night we ride"

While I appreciate the 'black and white' trilogy of albums, I'm in the minority who feels the band made a huge leap with Agents. This certainly put off some fans who had grown accustomed to the band and didn't want change. Fleetwood Mac did this with Tusk and even Zeppelin gets some flack for Presence, both of which were excellent albums with a different feel than more popular predecessors (and may have been better than their predecessors). But few great albums inspire as much angst as this one and I've never understood why. Agents took more chances given their fanbase's love of Secret Treaties, so it was the exact opposite of "selling out". Because it happened to score a big radio hit it was accused of being something it wasn't-I honestly don't think they expected the Reaper phenom that occurred.

Agents is first rate devious fun all the way through. Dark and yet insanely catchy, the songs are full of the tongue-in-cheek playfulness and campy hard rock brilliance few other bands have combined so successfully. They almost stole a page in pizazz/showmanship from Freddie Mercury or Elton John, while maintaining their night-rider tough guy sound. From sampling different musical styles to borrowing Patti Smith's poetic touch, creativity was at an absolute peak. Yes a huge radio hit was born, yet the sinister stories concocted in the other tracks are just as appealing. Hard rock and 60s rock are sampled, pop harmonies are blended with great hooks and punkish attitude, and a certain haunting mixture of surf and film-noir soundtrack recall the way The Doors could be both dangerous and commercial. It's also more ebullient and colorful in the overall sound motif, a pleasant improvement. The keyboards have been more heavily integrated and each member seems to be standing out front, I wonder if this album was more collaborative in songwriting than previous work? Summer of Love is a giant sneer, the Reaper's dramatic middle interlude a most perfect expression of deathly fear. Vera Gemini seems the pursuit of dangerous love with Smith's superb co-vocal, while Morning Final's music has a mini-epic feel of narcotic hazed grandeur in a Steppenwolf like package. All the tracks have this captivating combination of the eerie with the cheerful, a contrast between lyrics and vocals with dynamic playing that supports both. It did have its fans:

"Agents of Fortune is a startlingly excellent album---startling because one does not expect Blue Oyster Cult to sound like this: loud but calm, manic but confident, melodic but rocking. One area of clear improvement is in the matter of lyrics; for the first time there is less emphasis on absurd, crypto-intellectual rambling and more of a coherent attack on a variety of subjects." -Ken Tucker, Rolling Stone, 1976

"It's still dark, mysterious, and creepy, and perhaps even more so, it's still rooted in rock posturing and excess, but gone is the nihilistic biker boogie in favor of a more tempered sound that gave Allen Lanier's keyboards parity with Dharma's guitar roar" -Thom Jurek, Allmusic

I love this album because of the remarkably high quality playing at every level put to music full of life and personality. No other album conjures as well the lights speeding by on a warm summer night, mystery, romance, adventures. Unlike the machismo of the first three albums there is a big dose of the feminine coming through in several tracks, perhaps the strong imprint of Patti Smith coming through on the boys. "Vera Gemini" is the highlight on an album full of them. Anchoring it all is the lead work of Buck Dharma and he has never played with more conviction than on Agents. On some YouTube comments I was reading, a gentleman posed the question "Ever noticed that Buck Dharma has never thrown away a solo in his life?" It was certainly true on this album, and every lead and rhythm part on this album, each guitar sound, are perfect. Agents of Fortune is not only the feather in the cap of BOC's career, but one of the best albums of rock's most iconic decade. I supposed that's enough gush but this album is on my top shelf---couldn't help myself.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There are albums out there in which a single song within it stands out so much from the rest of the tracks that it practically carries the rest of the album on its back while sometimes not even being a representative song concerning the band's style and general output. Agents of Fortune wound up being one of those albums, elevating the financial status of the band in the process. But what can I say...even I couldn't help but skip to that track back in the day; it was really something else and quite effective in conveying an atmosphere. It was only during subsequent listens when I realized there was more to this release than that one tune, and now I find the album as a whole as pretty fascinating, but yeah, that one defining hell of a track was quite a game changer.

But before I wax poetic about "Tenderloin", there's still the rest of the album to consider. First of all, along with an improved, clearer production, the band also ventured a lot more out of its comfort zone. The dark attitude was still there, but the branching out into occasional pop territory was a new exploration. Yet the album branches out into a lot of other things, resulting in an album that's almost schizoid in nature musically, held together by the strange unsettling undercurrent in the overall mood, lyrics and penchant for killer guitar solos.

Opener "This Ain't the Summer of Love" is actually cool as a cucumber with a heavy guitar tone kicking things off on the right foot. It's got the motorcycles, meanness and iconoclasm one would expect out of B÷C going by their prior three releases. Other heavy hitters include "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)", the lone cosmic number with a ballsy bluesy riff anchoring it before the chorus shoots the band out into space. It's one of those songs in which when I first heard it, I knew it was B÷C, because it sounds like no other band I can think of. It's a great number and could have fit right in with Secret Treaties or even the debut, but I'm glad it's here since I'm not sure those productions would have benefited the song. Then there's "Tattoo Vampire" which brings back some fiery Tyranny & Mvtation action while featuring seedy lyrics involving the urban underworld and its dark secrets. That's actually a running theme for a lot of these songs, with the album's lyrics exploring a city-life underbelly setting moreso than anything else I've heard in their catalog, and in a few cases it really works wonders.

Not so for "Sinful Love", which may be their worst song of their entire 70's output, although the guitar solo (as always) is great. In fact the solo is so good I think Buck Dharma wrote that solo first and as a joke the rest of the band built a real crappy tune around the lead track just to prank Buck. The fact that this song starts off side 2 instead of "Tattoo Vampire" is an actual travesty. "Debbie Denise" isn't the best thing ever either, being an ode to some girl who stands by her rockstar lout of a man, but it sort of works because Albert can really pull off that hungover warbly voice so well...could have been an authentic delivery.

I can't fault the other tunes really. "True Confessions" isn't great, but the Elton John/Rolling Stones mishmash comes off pretty cool and the slow fade out provides an excellent tension builder for the next song. Then there's also "The Revenge of Vera Gemini ", which is icy cool with a slinky swinging gait and Patti Smith's vocal contributions. Certainly one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

But now it's time for some "Tenderloin" baby. I always get this impression of a lavish hotel room with a red velvet couch, neon lights flickering through the window, sirens wailing outside, a wine glass with lipstick on the rim, lots of pills and other things on the table etc. Eric's vocal delivery is at once impassioned yet sinister, and the air of lavish decadence hangs all over this sort of proto-new wave thing. I can only imagine the amount of blow involved in the creation of the song, considering that it's also a main factor within the lyrics, which neither condemns nor praises the protagonists. "It's just like life, there's never quite enough." It's one of those epiphanies when I could wonder "Is this the best time I can see myself having?" "Doesn't it all go eventually downhill?" and other thoughts during a binge or something. Slick, sleazy and quite unusual for the band, it's kind of it's own thing. The other couple of songs I haven't mentioned yet are quite awesome too.

So despite the presence of "Sinful Love", a song so bad you'd have to be a pigeon to sing it, Agents of Fortune really turned out to be a grower for me to an extent that I think it was the right thing for the band to do at the time, not just economically, but creatively since there's too many interesting gems to glare at, plus the sheer variety is noble and not really detrimental after a few listens.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Agents of Fortune was quite a departure from bold, ambitious, authentic and adventurous previous records. The band was maybe trying to get higher financial return while not losing their credibility. Guitars are still main element in the sound but better balanced by keyboards, which is not necessa ... (read more)

Report this review (#2403747) | Posted by sgtpepper | Wednesday, May 20, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars From 1976, comes Blue Oyster Cult's album AGENTS OF FORTUNE, containing their hit "Don't Fear the Reaper". Never one of my favorite BOC albums it still contains good numbers like "This Ain't The Summer of Love", "Reaper", and "Extra Terrestrial Intelligence". But too many throw away numbers like "Si ... (read more)

Report this review (#749382) | Posted by mohaveman | Saturday, May 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Simply a very good album. Not B÷C's best, for sure (some great fillers here : Tattoo Vampire and Sinful Love), but I just can't stand not listening to Morning Final, (Don't Fear) The Reaper or This Ain't The Summer Of Love at least one time per day. Debbie Denise, True Confessions and Tenderloi ... (read more)

Report this review (#166058) | Posted by Zardoz | Tuesday, April 8, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wooow! im amazed how underrated this album is on PA this is my favorite B÷C album! Starting of with the amazing heavy and fast rocker "This aint the summer of love" cool riff great melody and sining good start for one of my all time favourite albums, I allso love the next song true confesions wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#132828) | Posted by Zargus | Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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