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Blue Öyster Cult - Club Ninja CD (album) cover

CLUB NINJA

Blue Öyster Cult

 

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2.45 | 70 ratings

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TCat
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.

TCat | 3/5 |

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