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Blue Öyster Cult

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Blue Öyster Cult Club Ninja album cover
2.68 | 105 ratings | 7 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. White Flags (4:41)
2. Dancin' In The Ruins (4:01)
3. Rock Not War (3:57)
4. Perfect Water (5:29)
5. Spy In The House Of The Night (4:22)
6. Beat' Em Up (3:23)
7. When The War Comes (6:02)
8. Shadow Warrior (5:40)
9. Madness To The Method (7:26)

Total time 45:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Eric Bloom / lead vocals (1,3,6,8), guitar
- Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser / lead guitar, keyboards, lead vocals (2,4,5,7,9)
- Tommy Zvonchek / piano, organ, synth
- Joseph Bouchard / bass, guitar, lead vocals (7)
- Jimmy Wilcox / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Phil Grande / guitar
- Kenny Aaronson / bass
- Thommy Price / drums
- David Lucas / backing vocals
- Joni Peltz / backing vocals
- Dave Immer / backing vocals
- Joe Caro / backing vocals
- Howard Stern / spoken word (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Don Ivan Punchatz

LP Columbia ‎- PC 39979 (1985, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 39979 (1986, US)

Thanks to andrea cortese for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Club Ninja ratings distribution

(105 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(14%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (38%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Club Ninja reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Oysters and clubs and ninjas, oh my!

Hot on the heels of their 1984 flop The Revolution By Night, BOC regroups and releases this effort. While often called BOCs worst album it's actually not that bad. Some of the songs are very 80s stadium rock and some of the songs are very un-BOC, but there's still some good music to be had here!

The album opens with the promising WHITE FLAGS, which is a great hard rock tune not dissimilar to the opener from their previous album, Take Me Away. The song is obviously made to suit Bloom's voice and it lets him hit all of his possible notes during the chorus. However, it is good to note at this point that BOC were obviously trying to make some sort of comeback because the members themselves only have writing credits on five of the nine tracks. That's fairly acceptable, however, since how many bands would be around without outside writers? None the less, BOC, you could do better than that.

Off that tangent, next is the MTV hit DANCIN' IN THE RUINS. This is a good catchy pop-rock tune that makes good use of the 80s synthesizer and has a very infectious chorus. Buck takes the vocal helm (as he usually does when they need a hit) and does quite a job of it on this song. This track is often (if unfairly) bashed for sounding too similar to the 1981 hit Burnin' For You. While there are some similarities (vocalist, the fact that it was the hit), the song is far too different to truly warrant any flak. Interesting to note that this song placed the highest on the billboard charts for BOC, topping even 1976's (Don't Fear) The Reaper, which only reaches #12. DANCIN'... reached #9!

Following shortly after that track is the excellent PERFECT WATER. This song is sublime! It's possibly one of the best things ever to be recorded by these guys! Buck's guitar and vocals mix cohesively from light to heavy in one of their most progressive songs since The Vigil. Truly a great track and definately worth checking out. An amazing live rendition of this song would later be featured on their 2002 live album A Long Day's Night.

So, three great tracks, what could possibly be dragging this album down? Let's see...

There's a couple of weaker tracks on their album. While they can be considered good rock songs, especially by 80s standards, it's likely that neither prog fans or heavy metal fans will be particularly big fans of them. The third track, MAKE ROCK NOT WAR is a good anthem that often comes across as a simple rock song. BEAT 'EM UP is another song that's very simple in structure, it does, however, feature a nice use of vocal harmony at the bridge that is quite brief, but effective. Prog fans will not likely find any solace in these particular tracks, but rock fans may still enjoy them.

A couple of forgettable songs also inhabit this album. SHADOW WARRIOR features some cool guitar-ing by Buck, but is ultimately let down due simply to the fact that it doesn't really go anywhere. There is a word for this, it's 'boring'. SPY IN THE HOUSE OF THE NIGHT is another song that fails to impress. There's nothing to it really, it's far too simple, not to mention that the chorus really doesn't do much to help it out.

A couple more high points? Yes there is! WHEN THE WAR COMES (with voice overs by Howard Stern, of all people) offers a very progressive track with some harmonizing vocals that work quite well for it. The guitars are slow and clunk, but really that plays as a strength to this song. The only thing that really gets annoying about the song is the constant repeating of ooga-cha-ca ooga-cha-ca in there. Luckily it's mixed fairly low, so you can just imagine that Buck's guitars are playing right over top of it. MADNESS TO THE METHOD is another very high point. Clocking at over 7-minutes, you'd think that this song was at least kind of progressive. Unfortunately it's actually just a long rock song, but it's a good none none the less! Buck's vocals all throughout are quite strong and there's song great guitar work all along the way. Not to mention that the song has a really cool name.

End time!

So many good things to say about the album. Why then? Why 2 stars? Well, it's prog we're reviewing here, and 80s stadium rock, no matter how good, is not progressive. Will this album make a good addition to your prog collection? Not really. BOC fans and completion's, will still likely find a lot to like about it. In the end this one gets:

For Prog Archives: 2 stars... only buy it if you really want it. Not really for prog fans. Perfect Water is likely the only song to keep your interest.

For Everyone Else: 3 stars. An underrated album that still has flaws none the less. Still worth a shot for White Flags, Dancin' In The Ruins, Perfect Water and Madness To The Method.

Finally, if you are one of the people who really wants the album; be prepared to sell your first born to get it. Since the album has never been remastered the only CD copy is under Elektra CK 39979, which is out of print. This means that this CD is rare! Unless your local used record store has it by some crazy alignment of the stars be prepared to pay somewhere in the area of $40 (US) on Amazon or eBay. While you're doing that, us BOC fans will pester their label to remaster all of their albums.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars There is absolutely no reason to build a cult around this album. Some basic rock tunes is all that you'll grab here. Prog is of course alien here and even if the opener could have left some hope, there won't be a lot of good moments available on this recording.

This work is a combination of pop/AOR and below average hard-rock. Not a big deal, right? Some fine opening numbers ('' White Flags'', '' Dancing In The Ruins'') are followed by one of the worst AOR stuff ('' Make Rock Not War'').

But to be honest, from then on, this album is a painful exercise to listen to. Weak melodies, absent guitar solo: this is what you'll have to bear ('' Spy In The House''). This album is just a collection of very average rock tunes that don't have their place on this site.

Trying to find prog elements in here is kind of looking for the Holy Grail. You won't find them here. The unpleasant goes along with the awful ('' Beat 'Em Up''). I am looking quite hard which track could lead to a two star rating.

Even if a song like '' When The War Comes'' is alright, it wouldn't provide the lowest rating. I can't help: this is not a good album AT ALL. Not even average to tell you the truth. The weak closing track is just confirming the whole feeling.

One little star? Yes! This is appropriate. The worse BÖC album so far. As far as I'm concerned, I would stay away from this recording.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Club Ninja" was the 10th studio album album released by Blue Oyster Cult. It followed on the heels of "Revolution By Night" which was not a commercial success, and the plan was that Club Ninja would be the album to bring that back to the band. Trying to obtain a heavier sound against the usual synths and keyboards that graced their other albums, this album mix the keys down a bit further and bring out the guitar sounds more than on the previous album. Some of the tracks also tried to bring in the more commercial friendly sounds of the hair bands that were running rampant around the time of this release, 1986. But, nevertheless, there are still some gems to be culled from this album, so it shouldn't be a complete wash out.

The album starts with two excellent BOC style tracks with some great, memorable hooks, namely "White Flags" and "Dancin' in the Ruins" which both are both accessible and more akin to BOC's past classics. However, this is followed up with a track that is less memorable and more arena rock friendly in "Make Rock Not War". Yeah, it's pretty cheesy. However, the next track is one of BOC's best ever. "Perfect Water" is a progressive classic and has a more complex sound along the lines of their more progressive work of the past. It is not really as guitar heavy as the previous tracks, but that is okay because some of BOC's best music is not always reliant on heavy guitars anyway. The tempos shift and the melodies are more complex. So, to this point, the album is sounding really good.

Unfortunately, we come into the part of the album that is either devoid of much personality and lean towards the commercial heavy metal or hard rock sound of the day. "Spy in the House of Night" is based upon a poem by Richard Meltzer, a music critic who had worked with the band in the past. The words are interesting, but there in nothing really memorable about the track. It took me a long time to get the melody to remain in my head, and now that I can pick it out before I hear it, it still has nothing about it that is interesting. This is then followed by "Beat 'em Up" which is a typical stadium rocker that raises the cheesy factor back up to 100. At least some of the band's more commercial songs previous to this were still great rockers, the more commercial songs on this album are frightfully bad and much lower than the bar set for the bands music. I mean lyrics like "You take a lickin and keep on tickin" and "You start rockin' when we start sockin'" just doesn't hold up to BOC lyrics from the past, but they do come right out of the hair metal era.

Things get a little more interesting after this though. "When the War Comes Home" has a better progressive edge to it and is co-written by Sandy Perlman who has written many BOC classics and also produced many of their albums. It starts with a rousing spoken word intro by Howard Stern, who was the cousin to Eric Bloom's (vocalist, guitarist) wife. The song has most of the band singing in unison, and the melody is not very memorable, but it has a nice guitar hook to it, it is more atmospheric, it has the ooga-chaka vocal that will help you remember it, and the ending, which emulates the sounds of machine gun fire and war sounds with the drums, guitars and synths is pretty great if you really listen to it. Talk about the use of tension and drama in music, this track is a highlight for me. I can imagine this track would do well in concert with a cool pyro-techniques and light effects. "Shadow Warrior" has a complex melody that takes some time to get stuck in your head, but it is actually a great progressive track with a terrific guitar solo stuck in there. The same can be said for the closer "Madness to the Method" which is a bit less of a rocker than the previous track, but is still a great progressive track nonetheless.

No doubt that this BOC album took some time to grow on me, because the hooks are not quite as obvious in some places, and in others, the songs are just too commercial. The music isn't quite as catchy as some of their past albums, however, not only is there a move to some more commercial songs, but there is also a move to more progressiveness here too. I don't really think this album is as bad as some make it out to be, I think it takes a little more time for some of the tracks to grow on you though. But, I do see this album as a step towards the excellent album "Imaginos" that would come next. Call me strange, but I find this album better than most, though at one time, I would have agreed with most saying that this was one of their worst albums. If you try to block the commercial tracks out of your head and give this one a better chance, I think most would agree that most of the tracks are actually good. I'll give it 3 stars, but I think it is closer to 3.5 stars and there are times when I would consider it 4 stars depending on my mood.

Review by Warthur
3 stars The Blue Oyster Cult tendency to push their pop flirtations a little too far for the fans they won with their heavier work to stomach strikes yet again here. Club Ninja is to their 1980s output what Mirrors was to their 1970s output - an album where the distinctive Blue Oyster Cult weirdness which remains present on their better pop albums threatens to disappear.

However, whereas Mirrors had some interesting sonic experiments, even if they were quite un-Cultish sonic experiments, here the band spend entirely too much time adopting the sound of utterly generic mid-1980s rock. It's entertainingly and competently done, mind, which is why I don't rate this lower than I do, but at the same time it's highly jarring if what you are expecting is something which sounds like Blue Oyster Cult.

That said, Method to the Madness and Where the War Comes seem to include sniffs of that distinctive Blue Oyster odour, and there seems to be an overarching idea here - a recurring theme of the allure of violence - but to really unpack that further, you'd need to listen to this album a lot, and it's a love-it-or-hate-it prospect - or, rather, a like-it-or- hate it prospect, since I think you're more likely to go "Eh, yeah, this is pretty good" than you are to say "This is FANTASTIC!"

Review by FragileKings
4 stars 'Twas early 1986, me barely 15 years old, and a new Blue Oyster Cult release with a silly title and a goofy cover. I had only one BOC album, "The Revolution By Night", which I had been somewhat duped into buying because a friend said they were really heavy and the song "Take Me Away" seemed to affirm that. So I was hoping that a second attempt to hear heavy BOC would prove fruitful with this album. It was not. But was I disappointed? Baffled at first is more like it.

I wasn't sure what to make of this album. There were the hard rocking and heavy guitars but there were also bright, eighties pop synth sounds which I still cringe at to this day. There was dramatic music with really catchy vocal melodies but there were also electronic drums which I have never cared for much. I found certain songs intriguing as they offered something new or at least rare in my cassette collection. That jangly eighties guitar sound I didn't like actually sounded pretty good on "Perfect Water", and in spite of the keyboard sounds, I felt the song drawing me back for repeated listens, eventually becoming one of my favourite tracks on the album. It had a mysterious and also beautifully serene atmosphere to it. Not one band in my music collection at the time had a song like this.

Then there was "White Flags". A song packed with tension and moments of release sometimes simply through a keyboard effect but more so with the break into the chorus. One of my favourite parts was the organ bit that follows the, "Take me away! Yeeeaaahhh!" part. When I finally heard the original version recorded by the Leggatt Brothers, I was disappointed that there was no organ part.

"Shadow Warrior" was a wonderfully ominous and dark track with lyrical imagery typical of the band's works - a kind of future, science fiction / fantasy tale. And "Madness to the Method" had this dynamic piano solo in the song's dramatic conclusion. "Spy in the House of Night" also was not my usual cup of tea but somehow strangely attracted my ears. In fact, the only songs that I thought were a little silly were "Make Rock Not War" and "Beat 'Em Up", mostly for their atrocious meathead rock band-sounding titles. Musically, they were actually not so bad except for the keyboard sounds.

In truth, "Club Ninja" was to me an unfamiliar concoction of hard and heavy rock with pop sounds and at times an epic feel while at others very emotive and strong. Even songs that had goofy parts (are they really singing "Ooh-ga chaka" in "When The War Comes"?) were also interesting for their other aspects. Chorus voices. Slap bass. Longer tracks with meticulous attention to the details in the music. From a certain sonic point of view, this album would be most similar to Queensryche's "Rage for Order", though the two bands are quite different from one another.

I finally bought this album on CD and listened to it for the first time in about 30 years. I was surprised how much I remembered of the songs. I must have listened to this album more than I thought because I felt like I was listening to an old classic or an old favourite. True, I still flinch at some keyboards parts and "Beat 'Em Up" is still a goofy title. But I found that I actually really like this album! In fact, I think one of the things I appreciate about it now more than before is the prog element. In the mid-eighites, prog was carefully concealed beneath the pop flash of former prog kings or in the more complex music of some metal bands. "Club Ninja" on the other hand grasps hard and heavy rock, pop sounds and melodies, classic rock, and progressive flare (heavy organ and dramatic piano solos plus seven-minute songs with sci-fi and fantasy concepts) and sets them all out on the table.

The album was costly to produce and took nearly a year to put together under the strict guidance of visionary Sandy Pearlman. In the end, the results were probably more baffling to most people who couldn't make sense of what the band was trying to do. My opinion is that Blue Oyster Cult created an album of intelligent lyrical content, music of atmosphere, drama, energy, and dark and light, and many modern sounds that captured both the light, popular side and the harder-edged rock side.

Having this album back again, I appreciate it even more now after decades of exploring heavy and progressive music much, much further. Forget the pop elements. Songs like "White Flags", "Perfect Water", "Shadow Warrior", and "Madness to the Method" show a band who are not afraid to be serious and heavy, melodic, and more musically daring than a lot of bands in the eighties.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Still working my way through BOC album reviews...this is #10 (I chose no particualr order of reviewing). And this is NOT good, as well. Along with Heaven Forbid, this is the bottom of the Oyster Bed for me. "Make Rock Not War", "Spy in the House of the Night", "Beat Em Up", and "When the War C ... (read more)

Report this review (#283748) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, May 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well,is time to somebody make a review of this album,here we are talking about rock,and with obvius progessive elements.. this american band blue oyster cult,what a longe name,but in a few days is start to like..this album is about the be more especific in the year that i see the li ... (read more)

Report this review (#127531) | Posted by JgX 5 | Wednesday, July 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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