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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT

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Blue Öyster Cult biography
Hailing from NYC, the members of the band that was to become BLUE ÖYSTER CULT (BÖC for short) began to come together in the late 1960s, as a band called "Soft White Underbelly"; then changed into "Stalk-Forrest Group" in 1968. The name BLUE ÖYSTER CULT probably came from a 1960s poem written by manager Sandy Pearlman, though there are different versions of the story. It was part of his poetry, later used more extensively in their 1988 album "Imaginos". In Pearlman's poetry, the "Blue Oyster Cult" was a collection of aliens who had to secretly guide Earth's history. The addition of the umlaut above the vocal "o" was suggested by either Allen Lanier or Richard Meltzer. Other bands, such as Motörhead and Queensr˙che, later copied the practice of using umlauts or diacritic marks in their own band logos. The band's logo is the alchemical symbol for lead, one of the heaviest of metals. Pearlman considered this, combined with the heavy and distorted guitar sound of the band and coined the description "heavy metal" to describe BLUE ÖYSTER CULT's music.

Nicknamed 'the American Black Sabbath', or 'the thinking man's hard rock band' BÖC released their self-titled debut album in 1972. Its striking black-and-white cover prominently featured the now famous hook & cross symbol which the band adopted as their logo, and one of their most famous tracks to date, "Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll)". Their second album, "Tyranny and Mutation", was built on the first album's basis, but moved towards harder (The Black side) and richer sounds (The Red side). After that, the band aimed to make an album with more emotional impact for their third outing. When "Secret Treaties" was released in 1974, it gained critical acclaim, and it's still now by many considered their "proggiest" effort of the Seventies, with such songs as "Astronomy" and "Flaming Telepaths". The lyrics to "Career of Evil" were written by punk icon Patti Smith, whose collaboration with the band lasted several years, since she was the girlfriend of keyboardist Allen Lanier.

Then came "Agents of Fortune" (their first gold record) that contained their most famous track ever, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", which reached #12 on the US Billboard charts. For its follow-up, "Spectres", the band tried to come up with an even better record; however, for a lot of hardcore fans "Agents." was too "soft", and "Spectres" was even softer! Others, though, found the diversity of thesongwriting on "Spectres" a pleasant...
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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 145 ratings
Blue Öyster Cult
1972
3.45 | 149 ratings
Tyranny And Mutation
1973
4.17 | 213 ratings
Secret Treaties
1974
3.13 | 152 ratings
Agents Of Fortune
1976
3.21 | 109 ratings
Spectres
1977
2.39 | 88 ratings
Mirrors
1979
3.36 | 109 ratings
Cultösaurus Erectus
1980
3.56 | 122 ratings
Fire Of Unknown Origin
1981
3.02 | 63 ratings
The Revölution By Night
1983
2.34 | 51 ratings
Club Ninja
1986
3.74 | 79 ratings
Imaginos
1988
3.05 | 14 ratings
Cult Classic
1994
2.84 | 52 ratings
Heaven Forbid
1998
2.98 | 46 ratings
Curse of the Hidden Mirror
2001

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 63 ratings
On Your Feet Or On Your Knees
1975
3.33 | 52 ratings
Some Enchanted Evening
1978
4.01 | 46 ratings
Extraterrestrial Live
1982
2.92 | 12 ratings
Live 1976
1991
3.47 | 18 ratings
A Long Day's Night
2002
3.29 | 7 ratings
Extended Versions
2004

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.23 | 4 ratings
Career Of Evil: The Metal Years
1990
3.51 | 9 ratings
Workshop of the Telescopes
1995
3.96 | 4 ratings
Don't Fear the Reaper
1997
4.15 | 14 ratings
Don't Fear the Reaper: The Best of Blue Öyster Cult
2000
3.33 | 3 ratings
Are You Ready To Rock?
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Singles Collection
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Collections
2006
3.00 | 2 ratings
Triple Feature
2009
4.38 | 6 ratings
The Columbia Albums Collection
2012

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Spectres by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.21 | 109 ratings

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Spectres
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Spectres is one of those albums that commences and ends in such a strong manner, but whoa there's some problems in the middle. Sort of like an undercooked burger, lookin' good and flavorful on the outside, but that pink core that reveals itself once you bite into it can make you sick if the cows weren't in stellar health. With their last album being quite a success, B.O.C. continued to fiddle around with genres while staying true to the rock attitude, but unlike their prior releases which had an average of one or two duds tops, for my ears Spectres drops at least a few butt-burritos.

"Godzilla" and "The Golden Age of Leather" provides a knock-out one-two opening punch. That Godzilla riff man, what a doozy! Catchy and fun as well, combining the monstrous themes and heavy riffing with a partytime chorus, this is what I'd call really killer camp. "The Golden Age of Leather" boasts some epic dynamic and tempo shifts while keeping the BOC biker mystique afloat, bolstered with some fluid guitar melodies over the driving rhythm section.

If the first two songs provide the rock and the leather, the last two tracks bring about the atmosphere and the creepiness with the same level of vigor. "I Love The Night", a love ode to a female vampire back when vampires were considered scary and bad news instead of misunderstood and sparkly, is a gorgeous haunting ballad. It amazes me that Buck wasn't singing more tunes per album at this point since that guy is golden...not the powerhouse of Eric Bloom, but his voice was made for hits, as "...Reaper" and "Burnin' For You" can attest. Anyways, Buck really shines here, and I rank this among the band's most effective songs in their career. Glorious. "Nosferatu" follows, keeping the vampire theme at full-stride with a nice blend of heavy rock and lush ambiance bearing a gothic nature. Another mini-epic, it's a gloomy yet punchy closer featuring some sweet keyboard chops.

Things are going to get dicey now. The production was okay, but lacked some of that Agents-style sharpness and I swear some of the songs sound a bit rushed. "Searching for Celine" is like this funky roller coaster on the verge of crumbling, the band sounding under duress trying to stay in time with each other. Only Bloom's vocal prowess and the unusual 'stalker' lyrics keep this from a total crash and burn. And maybe the guitar solo...Dharma's the man. I'll give "Death Valley Nights" credit as it sounds like the 'hangover song' to end hangover songs, right down to the drunken warbly vocals, but man give that song to Buck and it would have been far better. I first heard "R.U. Ready 2 Rock" on their live album Some Enchanted Evening, and maybe it's because I'm used to that live version, but the studio version here doesn't match up without the crowd noise and added meat to the guitars. "Goin' Through the Motions" is pure silly pop, but I'll give props to Bloom showcasing his sizable vocal range. The other two tracks, "Fireworks" and "Celestial the Queen", are real rough going. They actually bring pain to my chest when I hear them. They aren't openly terrible songs, but I find their attempts at a bigtime chorus yield horribly limp results and I want to bend over and wretch like the narrator of "Death Valley Nights".

The good still outweighs the bad by a fair amount, with the opening two and closing two songs being particularly ace, and rather necessary for anyone interested in exploring B.O.C. regardless of how prog-related or not prog- related they were at this junction known as Spectres. Who really cares anyhow?

 Agents Of Fortune by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.13 | 152 ratings

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Agents Of Fortune
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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 BÖC 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 BÖC, 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.

 Mirrors by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.39 | 88 ratings

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Mirrors
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars No sacred cows down this stretch of road

If some BOC fans had their way the band would have simply rehashed their first three albums ad infinitum. Many seem to base every judgment about the band through the prism of those albums. Thank God the band didn't listen to them because it is their second trilogy of albums (from Agents through Mirrors) that expanded their legacy by providing some of the most refreshing and quality music of their long career. These albums do not tarnish their name as many believe, they enhance it, they add much to the diversity of sound that distinguished BOC from some of the other hard rock bands of the day. For a brief moment we were treated to some different shimmering stars of the BOC universe.

Looking back at the most loathed "Mirrors" and allowing it to stand on its own it is amazing how it closes their second trilogy with such class. This is a moody album at times (some darkness, some light), a perfect album for cruising the highway at dusk or dawn-and thus, managed near perfection in the album cover art. While not quite the devious masterpiece that "Agents" was, "Mirrors" at first sounds like a continuation of "Spectres" but there is a noticeable shift to sonically cooler places. This makes sense because this was BOC's "west coast" album, their only 70s album made in Los Angeles. To get even further from their comfort zone they chose a new producer, the legendary Tom Werman, who true to his reputation challenged the ingrained notions (and with one band member even the musicianship) of the band. While not perfect it is a delicious 70s rock album if one can forget about things like "how progressive" it was or whether it pleases the first trilogy purists.

"Mirrors" is for the Cult as "Cornerstone" was for Styx. Released just four months apart, both presented a version of their respective bands with earnest precision and pop sentiments encouraged. Perhaps the charge of chasing FM airplay is fair but who gives a [&*!#] when the results are such ear candy? These are talented folks who didn't miss the plate much in the 1970s. There are a couple of classics on Mirrors that rival their best. "The Great Sun Jester" is full of warm acoustic guitar and an almost Lindsey Buckingham-like attention to detail. "The Vigil" could sit anywhere on Agents or Treaties and hold its own. A great mysterious vibe with a multi-section song construction, beautiful harmonies and guitar solos. "You're Not the One" is an odd but fantastic track, sounding at times like The Cars and featuring a Kim Deal guitar sound which makes me laugh when I hear it. See if you can spot the part I refer to. "Moon Crazy" is pure pop shine but listen to the killer playing! "In Thee" is a sweet track from the late great Allen Lanier who may have been influenced by Patti Smith, I actually think her vibe did creep into a few BOC albums and improve them. Same with "Lonely Teardrops" which closes the album with a beautiful musical sunset, via the background harmonies, soft keys, and great guitar solo.

I'm the odd man out on this title, never a surprise, but I think it is great. If you can't let your hair down and just enjoy a catchy album once in a while, you're really missing out on part of the pleasure of music. Kudos to whomever in the BOC camp was responsible for engineering this sunny Los Angeles fork in the road. The sacred cows would return soon enough.

 Heaven Forbid by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.84 | 52 ratings

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Heaven Forbid
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Shockingly good, catchy & heavy

It took me nearly two decades to finally listen to this album, because frankly, I don't expect much when it comes to new "hard rock" by the geezer set. Thus I tend to ignore albums by bands I feel should have retired gracefully, favoring to spend my time on more youthful artists. Most of the time this geezer apathy has served me well. This time, despite the horrendously bad album cover art, I was wrong.

If you love hard rock, this late 90s offering from Blue Oyster Cult, minus the Bouchards no less.... absolutely, certifiably, kicks ass.

And I mean it kicks ass in a way which pays homage to the much worshipped Black/White trilogy days. Not that it has the exact same aura of 1970s and young blood that those albums did. But it certainly has the "spirit" of those early albums. Geezer context notwithstanding, "Heaven Forbid" is HEAVY, riff-ragin', rowdy, energetic as hell, and....engaging, interesting, yeah that's right....it has a pulse. It sounds like they cared. That is not always the case with 50 year olds trying to do what they did at 25. There are some repetitive verse/chorus/verse sections that give some credence to the "stock hard rock" formula charge but BOC has always had some songs like this-if they're done with passion and the song actually does rock and is fun, it is not a problem. This album has a couple tracks that are pedestrian but it has more of the kind of charm that keeps me coming back for more. The guitars have lots of growl and snarl, the overall production vibe is meaty and in-your-face.

There is groove to Heaven Forbid and the musicianship is as good as you'd expect, especially when Buck tears it up. There is mood, soul, and a little something special when Roeser's pop sensibility and melodic instincts make the material instantly enjoyable. The Bloom vocal tracks are heavier and rowdier while the Roeser-sang tracks a bit more reflective and diverse. "Harvest Moon" is a classic Buck Dharma song with an ethereal feel and soothing vocals, haunting and lovely. "Real World" featured funky acoustic guitar and gorgeous lead work. Some of the Bloom songs get close to Metallica intensity, very tight and gripping. The album leaves room for humor (listen to Buck's playful vocal on "Damaged") and unintentional homage-while Allen Lanier was just fine at the time of this album's release, his passing in 2013 makes the placement of a live "In Thee" a coincidentally beautiful closing number. Normally I'm not in favor of tacking on live stuff to a studio album but in this case it really fits and adds a feather to an album that surprised the hell out of me. In a good way.

This album has many low ratings with some reviewers talking about its failure in the context of "prog", which one need not consider when reviewing prog-related albums. Site Admin have changed the rating definitions for prog-related albums so that that no deduction for "prog quotient" is necessary or desired when reviewing the "related" section. The ratings definitions listed at PA all specify "rock" in lieu of "prog." So listen, love, and review all of our "prog related" titles as *rock* albums and quit worrying about the connection to prog.

Love, it makes strangers of us all / When we part oh, so thoughtlessly / Well, I'll wrap myself in cities I travel / I'll wrap myself in dreams / I'll wrap myself in solitude / But I wish I could wrap myself in thee

 Secret Treaties by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.17 | 213 ratings

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Secret Treaties
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars The "black & white" trilogy ends with the heralded Secret Treaties. A fine mix of hard rock with a nasty attitude and occult-inspired space rock, it combines elements of BOC's atmospheric debut with aspects of Tyranny & Mutation's aggression and adds a bit more of an epic approach to their material along with some progressive influences as well. It should not only be the band's finest hour, but my favorite as well.

Yet, it really isn't. I mean, it's great, but it could've been even better. Like the other two in the trilogy, Secret Treaties has its own style of production that doesn't do the music any serious favors. The debut was tripped-out reverb excess, the second had a razor sharp guitar but it was also raw and the drums lacked punch. With this album, the instruments are mixed better, but the overall tone is dull around the edges, particularly with the guitars. A combination of the bite that this album's predecessor had with the polish endowing the follow-up "Agents of Fortune", would have done wonders to sharpen up this release.

Opener "Career of Evil" is a cool start with Patti's creepy lyrics and a nice slinky groove, and the seamless shift to "Subhuman" is neat, but that song itself, while good on its own, in my opinion should have been placed later in the album. I just find it a bit tedious after the opener I guess. Things pick up with the next three tracks, which are all cool rockers with a bit of weirdness thrown into each of them. Afterwards, "Harvester of Eyes" and "Flaming Telepaths" really bring out the strange subject matter and prog elements begin slithering into their sound, culminating with "Astronomy", a spaced-out piano ballad that also rocks out in a catchy "hey!" fashion. Really an interesting and brilliant piece of rock music.

Without a doubt, no BOC fan should be without this recording in my opinion, and even though I wouldn't rank this as their finest hour, being part of the "black & white" trilogy practically makes it essential by default. I love their wild early years, and this release ends their trilogy on a suitably uncanny note with the last three tracks of this release.

 Cultösaurus Erectus by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.36 | 109 ratings

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Cultösaurus Erectus
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I have always loved the cover of this album since I was a kid. My friend's older brother had this on vinyl, and my interest in dinosaurs and science fiction art made this an easy eye-catcher.

Blue Oyster Cult were often said to be the American answer to Black Sabbath but I have never been able to hear that in the music. For this album here, they got Martin Birch as producer, who was already known for his work with Sabbath and Deep Purple's 'Machine Head' and who would go on to produce albums for Iron Maiden. BOC and Black Sabbath toured together, too, on what was called the Black and Blue tour. Still, the band doesn't sound at all like Black Sabbath. But they don't have to.

I'll admit it took me some time to get into this album. Having been sufficiently impressed with their first three albums and having a greatest hits album plus formerly owning two other later albums on cassette, I had more expectations from this one. I kept adding it to a playlist of albums to review and then taking it off again. Finally I decided to give it my full attention and I was pleasantly surprised in parts.

'Black Blade' is a song based on the writings of Michael Moorcock. It's hard rock pop with punk edge in parts and tells the story about an evil blade that possesses its bearer to kill. The story is a bit similar to the Heavy Metal movie theme where a mysterious green orb also causes otherwise gentle people to behave in a bloodthirsty manner. Incidentally, BOC were closely involved in the music soundtrack of Heavy Metal, and some of the songs would end up on their next release. There's some nice eerie music with creepy sound effects in the middle. One of BOC's classic fantasy sci fi type story telling songs, Eric Bloom's vocals are as usual full of passion. This is a great theatrical hard rock number with rhythm changes and synthesizer; like prog hard rock almost. The blade speaks at the end in metallic voice.

'Monsters' is next, and why didn't I notice this one right away? A hard rock track with an almost seventies danceable intro then suddenly goes jazz with sax and piano drums bass and no guitars. That fast boogie part contrasts great with the hard n' heavy part and then another jazz break. What are these guys trying to prove? Then an almost boogie rock prog section, after which the song slows down with some nice piano. A new melody is introduced. The chorus fast with piano bass drums and lead guitar. Seemingly seamless and well- crafted, the song wraps up with heavy hard rock bit but with added sax and groove. Great song!

'Divine Wind' is slow with piano, guitar and a hard bass but has a menacing pace almost. 'If he really thinks we're the devil / then let's send him to hell'. The music is steady and not varied like the first two tracks. Track three is a good spot for it. The backing female vocals sound a bit like heavier Pink Floyd.

'Deadline' is more pop with hard strummed guitar and synthesizer. Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser takes the vocals. Again, the music is minimalistic but the lead guitar adds colour.

'The Marshall Plan' is a story about young Johnny who goes to rock show with Suzie but sees her leaving with the band. Johnny decides to take up the guitar and become a rock star. The 'Smoke on the Water' riff sneaks in at one point, the original song recorded by producer Martin Birch. There's a spoken part which sounds a bit cheesy as Johnny talks about his plan to play heavy music. Don Kirshner's voice introduces the now successful Johnny. There's a fast, upbeat hard rock instrumental with lead guitar. The music has become more varied again. The story is a bit trite but it's a fun song.

'Hungry Boys' is a fast paced hard rock with piano and an electric drum break. It's a typical BOC fast boogie rock number. Drummer Albert Bouchard takes the vocals.

'Fallen Angel' features bassist Joe Bouchard on vocals. His singing is rough, almost a shout, but possess a very pop rock / hard rock sound. The synth-led melody is catchy, and the guitar solo like pop-sounding Kansas. The music reminds me of the Canadian pop-rock band, Prism.

'Lips in the Hills' brings us back to the exciting rocker ability of BOC and it was the first song to really grab my attention. Eric Bloom is back on vocals again. This is hard rock BOC! Nothing complex or overly simple, just guitar rock energy and fury with a one of the band's typical suspense story tales.

'Unknown Tongue' concludes the album. It's hard rock with piano and yet another almost horror suspense style story piece about what sounds like a slightly twisted young lady. There's a bit of pretty but horror movie- type piano. A good track though less involved than the first two.

While this is not my favourite Blue Oyster Cult album, it does typify what a BOC album sounds like: essentially a rock band with hard rock and heavy rock up front and occasional meanderings into traditional heavy metal and progressive trim where suitable. What is to be admired and liked is the band's ability to produce exciting and at times very interesting songs about aliens, ghosts, science fiction and the super natural. It's almost as if the members know not to take themselves seriously about their taking their work seriously, if that makes any sense. There's a tongue in cheek quality to the genuine sincerity they put into their entertainment. For that, I like them. But I wish this album had a few more memorable tracks for my taste.

 Tyranny And Mutation by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.45 | 149 ratings

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Tyranny And Mutation
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

5 stars That linear esoteric cover design drew me in, the same way that their debut did. It was like I was ready to join a cult. Instead of whistling away my life savings for mysterious spiritual enlightenment, I received eight really good songs for a much more reasonable price.

The opener, a reworking of the second track off their debut, absolutely explodes out of the gate with a far more razor sounding guitar sound than the blunted spacey tone of their prior release. The tempo is particularly fast for its time, like a proto-punk speedster featuring Bloom's vocals which still possess that youth-inflected snarl. I particularly enjoy the final minute or so when the band is really cooking up an instrumental storm. One of my favorites by BOC in general.

The truth is, this is probably the only album of theirs in which I completely dig every tune. My other favorite platters of theirs have at least one dud or so, but that's not the case with this puppy. Case in point, "Mistress of the Salmon Salt". Not a song that gets a lot of mention by BOC fans, but to me it's utterly brilliant, and lyrically one of the strangest, creepiest and fascinating of their repertoire. Is the 'Quicklime Girl' a serial killer/prostitute preying on sailors, a killer cultist, a necromancer, a deviant girl with a fascination for death? Enigmatic yet perfect for the music, which sways between hard rock riffs, quieter verses and atmospheric doom-rock passages complete with an organ solo. The morbid shamble of the music is quite effective accompanying the lines "The harvest of life, the harvest of death", again, with Bloom's serpentine delivery. A great finale to the album, residing on the LP's "red" side, deemed the more atmospheric half of the album.

Songs that are well known on T&M are given accolades for good reason. "7 Screaming Diz- Busters" begins with one of BOC's most memorable riffs (man what a doozy!) before launching into one of their most quintessential epics that meshes biker aesthetics and possible sexual references with blatant occultism; pretty much everything that freaked out my parents when I started getting into rock music. The song is also quite progressive musically, featuring no shortage of shifts in tempo as well as a strange array of soloing and keyboard usage. It's a true classic by the band, and some would say "Hot Rails to Hell" is as well, featuring Joe Bouchard's demented vocals and a rapid chugging pace. It's during songs like this though that the album's one flaw for me personally gets a bit more exposed, which would be the lack of a strong production. The guitars sound great, but a better presence of low-end and a heavier drum sound would have enhanced the power of the more aggressive cuts of this collection. It's a flaw I tend to overlook due to the strength of the material, and I've been loving this album for over 30 years.

When I mention that all of the songs here are among my favorites by the band, I mean it. "Baby Ice Dog" boasts jarring Patti Smith lyrics and grooves quite well while tweaking the standard 4/4 rhythms with some jazz-influenced breaks. the opening riff of "OD'd on Life Itself" recalls The Hollies' "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" (which in turn recalls CCR's "Green River" and so-forth) before spicing things up with some space rock ambiance and dark yet trippy lyrics. "Wings Wetted Down" boasts the most atmosphere, a moody piece and yet it brandishes a chainsaw guitar riff that keeps things from ever reaching ballad territory. An oddly structured tune in that sense, leaning into progressive territory. The sole number with Buck Dharma on lead vocals, "Teen Archer" is an absolute gem. With great guitar riffs and one killer 'feel-good' keyboard solo smack in the middle of this thing, it's also real catchy with its repetitive verses that sort of remind me of "Burnin' For You" in that specific sense. It's also quite an uptempo piece as well, showing that the "black" side of the album doesn't hold claim to all of the fast buggers.

To me this album is a masterpiece. It just clicked instantly and yet I somehow never overplayed it to the point of burnout through the years. I also know it's not for everyone, and maybe not the album to initiate the curious into what BOC has to offer, except maybe for those coming from an edgy rock/punk angle who's ready for some weird occult references and musical passages. Hell, maybe that's why I dig this album so much. It ain't prog, but the 'progressive' flair is there, enhancing the overall energy where "dusters dust becomes the sale and Lucifer, the light".

 Blue Öyster Cult by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.33 | 145 ratings

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Blue Öyster Cult
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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

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

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

 Tyranny And Mutation by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.45 | 149 ratings

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Tyranny And Mutation
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In the early 1980's, Blue Oyster Cult was proclaimed to be one of the heaviest bands among my friends who had older brothers who brought home heavy metal cassettes. After being blown away by Judas Priest, I bought 'The Revolution by Night' and heard that heavy rocking first track 'Take Me Away' but was disappointed with the rest of the album. In fact, after having purchased four BOC albums in my time and a compilation album, I have come to the conclusion that they were never really that heavy. Though original manager Sandy Pearlman wanted them to be America's answer to Black Sabbath, I think they are in a different league. BOC managed to incorporate heavy metal guitar riffs and solos it's true, but they just as easily shifted to boogie rock, blues-based barroom rock, and even naturally blended some more progressive tendencies sometimes all in the same song. Never really too metal; never exactly true prog. But during the 1970's, Blue Oyster Cult established themselves among the rock band elite.

While checking out proto-metal albums from 1969 to 1973, I decided to order 'Tyranny and Mutation' to see if there wasn't any really good example of early heavy metal. What I found was that most songs include some great heavy guitar sounds, riffs, and solos but never stay heavy throughout. There's often some more radio friendly verse that lightens the mood or perhaps a blues rock segment, some piano, etc. Furthermore, the vocal delivery of the various lead singers is often quite theatrical in a tough-guy-from-New-York-singing-about- science-fiction kind of way (English has no adjective for that). The music of BOC seemed more geared towards entertainment than head banging.

And therein laid the charm of the band's music. This was a point that I seemed to have missed all these decades. BOC were not about serious doom metal or hard rock. They were about science fiction, about ghosts and aliens, about fighter aircraft and urban legends. They were about rock, sometimes just feeling good hard rock, sometimes about heavy rock, sometimes about a progressive journey focused more on the story than the machinery that got you there. And this album has really begun to connect me to the music of Blue Oyster Cult.

Side one is the more rock and roll part of the album and side two the more progressive; however both sides lean toward the other at times. Some of the heavier riffs occur on side two in 'Wings Wetted Down' and 'Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)'. But 'The Red & The Black' and 'Hot Rails to Hell' give us the rock and roll approach of the band. Side one's closer, 'Seven Screaming Diz Busters' (love the title) crosses the rock and roll approach with the progressive side of the band. Overall, the album has a fair bit of variety. Having three or four lead vocalists and various external contributing writers also helps to make for an album that doesn't get stale.

One of the things that has really caught my attention with this album is the music composition. The band make good use of two guitars and use keyboards effectively when they deem it essential to the music. The drumming is also very clever and I find myself really following the drums in a number of the songs. Thank you, Albert Bouchard!

This is not a really heavy album but it has its heavy moments. It's not progressive like Yes or Genesis but it has its share of creative music composition. And once again, there is a certain charm to the vocal delivers that give it a theatrical feel. Blue Oyster Cult is about intelligent heavy metal with a sci-fi slant and with an attitude of artful pretense. Based on my appreciation for this album, I have now ordered three more classic albums with the confidence that I will enjoy them for what I know to expect this time. As a prog album this is not spectacular. However as a rock album this could well deserve nearly five stars.

 The Columbia Albums Collection by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
4.38 | 6 ratings

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The Columbia Albums Collection
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by uduwudu

5 stars Contains all albums but for Curse of The Hidden Mirror and Heaven Forbid and the OST soundtrack, obviously these are the Columbia only releases.

First up, the remastering. The first three and the first live album have been remastered fro the last remasters with the same bonus material. The overall improvements are a less abrasive sonic effect compared to the rather inexpensive original productions from the LPs and CD issues.

Agents Of Fortune sounds the same as the latest remaster so I think it's really just the first ones that have had a sonic upgrade the others sound the same as the CD issues presumably BOC or Columbia consider all the other albums to be ok which they are really. Spectres has had a couple of issues this one and the one prior with the bonus material.

Imaginos sounds like it also had a minor facelift but that is it really, the only remastered album without bonus material. Presumably this might spoil the highly involved concept album effect. Now it may not have been remastered but it sourced from the original tapes rather than the post production master. Or maybe it's just me, one way or another it sounds fine, clear and punchy.

Slightly off topic. A good example of production generation > DC > remaster is Queen's A Night AT The Opera. The CD remaster and DVD annotated with Brian May's notes are taken form the original tapes yet the later reissue (in that box set) has not but use tapes 2 generations down. I've not heard that master - it is probably fine but a digital audio conversion (DAC) to hard drive is best from the master tapes. As Queen had already done this with Opera I don't know why they did not keep that master. I know some engineers and record companies are oath to use masters as the condition may be not the best now and fear of further deterioration or harm is borne in mind. I do hope some remastering to digital is done as analogue processing is fine for LP format but sounds boxy and less palatable on CD with the more sonic space available. This is probably why a lot of people think CDs sound less good than the LPs.

Back to BOC Some Enchanted Evening (1978) has the original material plus the new bonus audio all of which makes this new version an improvement on old versions - i.e. still a great live LP, CD but better with more material. Good stuff. on every original issue. Also included is the DVD Some Other Enchanted Evening in full glorious 1978 TV video recording glory, mono and the lovely TV picture. It's a good gig and fine enough but there is nothing to deceive anyone into thinking this is 21st Century. A period piece of the USA's finest ever rock band (!) ;) in action. This CD / DVD has also been issued as a standalone issue.

The 1982 ET Live sounds the same as the LP and CD master issued prior to this. As do Revolution By Night and Club Ninja. No extra material on these.

I've yet to download but there are four concerts. I already have the 1983 Pasadena FM broadcast now officially released - the ROIO sounds great - presumably why it managed to get released.

I'll update this review when I know I have the bandwidth available to download the concerts (four); this way I'll know whether they are "nasty" mp3 files (ok for mp3 player, PC playback but inadequate for CD quality due to so much data lost on this format). I hope the files will be flac format for back up and our own conversion to WAV or other playback format if required. I know it sounds a tad ungrateful of me to moan about the download format but I do like the best sound I can get. However we do get an idea...

...as you get 2 CDs worth of bonus material. The Best of the FM Broadcasts lets us hear a 1 CD compilation of the downloads (making my ingratitude worse by the good quality official bootleg sound). These sound like pre FM masters which are about the best source material you can get outside of the original mixing master tapes. It's all good news really.

There is another CD this one full of rarities. These two would seem to be exclusive to the box set. I anticipate future BOC anthologies to feature occasional rare and bonus material likely to be sourced from these CDs and the downloads. Also floating around but not part of the set is a sampler 40th anniversary promo CD which I "found and downloaded" - gotta have the rare BOC however it comes!

Now, appearance and packing. The CDs are more or less LP replica but for the white border on the card covers identifying them as from the box set, just the same as the ELO box set. The box is nice looking but also observed to be a little light - I think it is recommended for record companies to issue box sets in more robust packaging, it does not take too much, a bit of hard card and box with lid but this could be a lot worse. There is a booklet which I would have liked annotated with mastering generation and such like details. Some may like a replica of the booklets of previous CD issues, if so you are out of luck. however you get an appropriate essay of the contents and details of personnel and everything else. All perfectly acceptable to the box set consumer.

If you are a BOC fan you probably have this, or will have it and if so I thoroughly recommend, it's a blast. If you have the LPs and are happy with those fine but you may want to check this out anyway. e.g. I have OFOOYK on vinyl and compared it with the original CD issue - same master and audio A/B comparison showed the sound to my ears to be the same; not really surprising. This one is a punchier upgrade. it, er, rocks even harder. Plus you get the bonus material which given the first five studio albums, the 2 CDs of bonus material, the expanded Enchanted Evening plus DVD is pretty good value.

To the general fans which is to whom I would generally address my comments, you may want to try a compilation something like The Essential or Workshop of the Telescopes 2 CD sets which should give you an idea if you are unfamiliar with BOC or have only heard the FM staples Reaper, Godzilla, Joan Crawford and wonder what else. Just make sure it has Astronomy on your compilation. However if f you have good idea of what to expect and think about getting this set it is fine value. I paid roughly 4 bucks a disc, probably less once I've downloaded the concerts (4 more live albums of concert Blue Oyster Cult!) making the per capita cost less.

The live releases sound good. They are all mp3s from the BOC shop. My only grip is I can never have enough versions of Astronomy and there are none on these broadcasts. They sound like the pre FM edited tapes and are quick and easy to download.

Summary It sounds fine (better than some contemporary issues of individual CDs such as the first three), it's good value and should last your lifetime or more.

Ratings - excellent addition to a prog rock and hard rock collection. Classic? - pretty much, it's easy to give this a 5 star rating bearing in mind the remasters here (first 3 and the first live album) are exclusive to this box set. The bonus material on the first five studio releases are available outside this box but there are 2 CDs worth and the downloads currently exclusive to this. If the concerts were included as discs and the liner notes replicated I'd have to give it five stars. It may have cost a bit more though so cheers to BOC for helping the costs kept down for the consumer. Of course some albums are regarded higher than others so I'll allow for that group thought mis-perception. I feel really mean not giving it five stars... 4 1/2 really.

The box is CD shelf sized, no T shirts etc (I wouldn't have minded but I'm not really worried,little extraneous packaging keeps the box set to easy to store on the shelf size. It's unfussy, and good value.

And the music is awesome, thank you Blue Oyster Cult.

Thanks to raff for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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