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The esoteric themes of Blue Öyster Cult

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Toaster Mantis View Drop Down
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    Posted: April 17 2014 at 12:32
One of my favourite things about Blue Öyster Cult is how the group's central "band concept" revolves around his insanely ambitious surrealist cosmic horror mythology that Sandy Pearlman cooked up with some help from Patti Smith and others, drawing upon a wide cultural frame of reference from mediaeval hermetic alchemy over the behind-the-scenes causes of both World Wars to the pulp literature in the H. P. Lovecraft tradition. Figuring out exactly what some of their songs mean, as a result, is a constantly ongoing process that requires learning new information and piecing together some grand terrifying cosmic puzzle.

Well, thanks to a mystically-minded Canadian I befriended on Facebook through a process I'm not yet completely cogisant of, I've come into this blog titled VISUP about the overlap between esoteric politics/religion and popular culture... and it turns out they have done quite a bit of legwork in exegesis regarding BÖC's "black-and-white" trilogy. (their first three studio LPs)

Looks like the rabbit hole goes even deeper than I thought, down through Wicca, the JFK assassination, the Manson Family and the notoriously bizarre Gnostic religious movement known as the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Not terribly surprising to find out that there's a high likelihood Robert Anton Wilson might have been a BÖC fan!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HolyMoly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 17 2014 at 12:38
Wish I had time to read that right now - I'll bookmark for later.  I've always wondered what this supposed concept of theirs was all about.  I enjoy the albums, but never dug beneath the surface on any of the lyrics.  I rarely pay attention to lyrics anyway.  But I'm a big fan of those first three albums, so this may even enhance my enjoyments of them more.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 17 2014 at 14:05
I love BÖC. They definitely have an edge in the lyrics dept. over a great many other bands. Pearlman's concept is an expansive one and I read up a lot on it years ago, but it's probably time for a refresher course!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 17 2014 at 14:12
I only have their 'Secret Treaties' album, which I got on a whim, but I really dig it. Especially Harvester of Eyes and Astronomy. Haven't paid too much attention to the lyrics though, maybe outside of the ones on offer on Astronomy, but I guess that's down to the rather emotive and down key tempo of the piano accompanying them. Really makes them stand on their own.

Btw I moved this thread to the prog related forum.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote M27Barney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 17 2014 at 15:28
Is that the album with the Messerschmitt 262 on the cover? I think I have that on vinyl! Not listened to any BOC for twenty years!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 19 2014 at 12:59
Been a BOC fan since the first album came out and always loved their occult references and 'tongue in cheek' lyrics.
I've read about the Pearlman connection before years ago and while there certainly are some conceptual things going on I don't think one should over analyze a band that was making good rock music and having some fun with it.
 
 
btw....I'll have to ck my RAWilson books to see if he ever mentioned BOC.
Wink


Edited by dr wu23 - April 19 2014 at 13:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 19 2014 at 13:58
An overlooked/underrated BÖC album is 1978's Mirrors. (Okay, not really, not if you're a fan!) It boasts "The Great Sun Jester" and "The Vigil" (lyrics by M. Moorcock), Allen Lanier's "In Thee," and a truly wonderful album closer called "Lonely Teardrops."




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 19 2014 at 15:58
BOC  doing their occult thing............Wink
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 19 2014 at 16:37
One of my favorite tracks by the boys.....full of ufo, occult references , religious name, and even a book reference.
 
 
I hear the music, daylight disc
Three men in black said, "Don't report this"
"Ascension," and that's all they said
Sickness now, the hour's dread

All praise
He's found the awful truth, Balthazar
He's found the saucer news

I'm in fairy rings and tower beds
"Don't report this," three men said
Books by the blameless and by the dead
King in yellow, queen in red

All praise
He's found the awful truth, Balthazar
He's found the saucer news

Dead leaves always give up motion
I no longer feel emotion
Where prophecy fails, the fallen notion
"Don't report this, agents of fortune"

All praise
He's found the awful truth, Balthazar
He's found the saucer news
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2014 at 06:09
I'm puzzled by a band like BOC (whose music  I heartily loathe) I can never square what I hear as crassly populist stadium macho grunt swagger/pomp with the sort of lyrical depth and substance alluded to in threads such as this. It's my loss but I do know that a cloak ain't an undergarment...Confused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2014 at 16:13
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

I'm puzzled by a band like BOC (whose music  I heartily loathe) I can never square what I hear as crassly populist stadium macho grunt swagger/pomp with the sort of lyrical depth and substance alluded to in threads such as this. It's my loss but I do know that a cloak ain't an undergarment...Confused
 
Heartily loathe...?  Puzzled..? LOL
 I kind of feel that way 'bout most of the 'prog (and or hair) metal' bands ("crassly populist stadium macho grunt swagger/pomp)  people here often say they like .....Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, AC/DC, even some Sabbath.
But imho BOC is a whole different thing and has always left me smiling after listening to their music....but then ,as is often mentioned here, everyone's taste is different.
Cool


Edited by dr wu23 - April 22 2014 at 16:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kentucky_Hawkwindage Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 22 2014 at 16:25
Originally posted by M27Barney M27Barney wrote:

Is that the album with the Messerschmitt 262 on the cover? I think I have that on vinyl! Not listened to any BOC for twenty years!!!

I have that LP in my collection,one of my favorite LPs of BOC 4-sure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2014 at 02:29
Originally posted by dr wu23 dr wu23 wrote:

Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

I'm puzzled by a band like BOC (whose music  I heartily loathe) I can never square what I hear as crassly populist stadium macho grunt swagger/pomp with the sort of lyrical depth and substance alluded to in threads such as this. It's my loss but I do know that a cloak ain't an undergarment...Confused
 
Heartily loathe...?  Puzzled..? LOL
 I kind of feel that way 'bout most of the 'prog (and or hair) metal' bands ("crassly populist stadium macho grunt swagger/pomp)  people here often say they like .....Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, AC/DC, even some Sabbath.
But imho BOC is a whole different thing and has always left me smiling after listening to their music....but then ,as is often mentioned here, everyone's taste is different.
Cool


Fair comment. I perhaps owe it myself to give BOC another listen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2014 at 10:54
Give this one a try...the very first track I ever heard from them.....stoned on my brothers front porch at college....speakers blasting....blew my head off back then....it still kicks ass imho.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TODDLER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2014 at 11:56
Through musician friends and family ....it was claimed that Eric Bloom protested on all accounts and stated that the band had no real personal interest in the occult and from the very start. He has spoken freely with confidence that the record company assigned the band to research the occult and further supplying books on the subject for the sole purpose of marketing their music. I have been informed that he rolls his eyes when asked the question....which has been an on going repeated question by fans for decades. 

Edited by TODDLER - April 23 2014 at 18:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2014 at 14:01
Originally posted by ExittheLemming ExittheLemming wrote:

I perhaps owe it myself to give BOC another listen.


I never tire of this song.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brainstormer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2014 at 20:02
BOC was always one of those bands that I just stayed away from.  Queen was another, lol
Rush another one.  Maybe I can try to link them together somehow. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dr wu23 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 23 2014 at 21:56
Originally posted by TODDLER TODDLER wrote:

Through musician friends and family ....it was claimed that Eric Bloom protested on all accounts and stated that the band had no real personal interest in the occult and from the very start. He has spoken freely with confidence that the record company assigned the band to research the occult and further supplying books on the subject for the sole purpose of marketing their music. I have been informed that he rolls his eyes when asked the question....which has been an on going repeated question by fans for decades. 
 
I can easily believe that and imo it was mostly an image thing which as Toaster pointed out was created by Sandy Pearlman their manager and guiding light.;  perhaps their Peter Sinfield if you will. Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2014 at 00:24
Iain, while many BOC songs do stick to the cookie cutter metal approach, they can also produce some inspired, poignant moments.  Especially their guitarist Donald Roeser.  To be very honest, their alleged lyrical complexity doesn't really interest me because it doesn't touch my soul.  But what does is some of Roeser's aching licks. 





Roeser was one of the great rock guitarists; he could keep things simple and still produce very memorable and haunting solos.  And he kept doing this even as rock moved to the Van Halen approach of shredding all over for the guitar solo.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ExittheLemming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 24 2014 at 07:45
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

Iain, while many BOC songs do stick to the cookie cutter metal approach, they can also produce some inspired, poignant moments.  Especially their guitarist Donald Roeser.  To be very honest, their alleged lyrical complexity doesn't really interest me because it doesn't touch my soul.  But what does is some of Roeser's aching licks. 





Roeser was one of the great rock guitarists; he could keep things simple and still produce very memorable and haunting solos.  And he kept doing this even as rock moved to the Van Halen approach of shredding all over for the guitar solo.


Thanks for posting these tracks. Yes, he's a very fine and refreshingly economic rock guitar player who understands when to be silent or keep things simple when appropriate (the less is more wisdom) However, as much as I want to enjoy this band, it all still sounds like generic rawk to my stubborn eardrums. (It's my loss alas...)Cry
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