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Blue Öyster Cult - Agents Of Fortune CD (album) cover


Blue Öyster Cult


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3.23 | 205 ratings

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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.

Raff | 3/5 |


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