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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT

Prog Related • United States


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Blue Öyster Cult biography
Founded in 1967 in Long Island, N.Y., USA (as Soft White Underbelly) - Hiatus 1986-1987 - Still active as of 2017

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 t...
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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)

3.42 | 177 ratings
Blue Öyster Cult
1972
3.48 | 177 ratings
Tyranny And Mutation
1973
4.16 | 261 ratings
Secret Treaties
1974
3.15 | 182 ratings
Agents Of Fortune
1976
3.22 | 132 ratings
Spectres
1977
2.42 | 106 ratings
Mirrors
1979
3.43 | 134 ratings
Cultösaurus Erectus
1980
3.59 | 152 ratings
Fire Of Unknown Origin
1981
3.01 | 80 ratings
The Revölution By Night
1983
2.45 | 70 ratings
Club Ninja
1986
3.70 | 96 ratings
Imaginos
1988
3.06 | 20 ratings
Cult Classic
1994
2.85 | 63 ratings
Heaven Forbid
1998
2.99 | 59 ratings
Curse Of The Hidden Mirror
2001

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

3.91 | 77 ratings
On Your Feet Or On Your Knees
1975
3.35 | 66 ratings
Some Enchanted Evening
1978
4.01 | 56 ratings
Extraterrestrial Live
1982
3.13 | 16 ratings
Live 1976
1991
3.50 | 23 ratings
A Long Day's Night
2002
3.50 | 10 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
3.52 | 10 ratings
Workshop of the Telescopes
1995
3.96 | 4 ratings
Don't Fear the Reaper
1997
4.15 | 16 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
3.00 | 1 ratings
Collections
2006
3.00 | 2 ratings
Triple Feature
2009
4.39 | 8 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
 Club Ninja by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.45 | 70 ratings

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Club Ninja
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Secret Treaties by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 261 ratings

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Secret Treaties
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by mariorockprog

4 stars 4: The third album of Blue Oyster Cult, being the proggier effort by the band (as some reviewers said) and considered as their best album. The first song has a starting prog sound however doesnt evolve in something else, is a catchy hard rock song, but the lyrics are not so elaborated. In general, is a collection of really good songs, that apparently fan tell that have an history going about aliens and how they play with humanity. Musically, I considered it good, but nothing spectacular. I think I was expecting something more elaborated by its score, very little prog is found here, mostly regular rock songs with some interesting riffs. Is an interesting album, I think it would be enjoyable for a prog listener, but don't expect something proggier or elaborated.
 Tyranny And Mutation by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.48 | 177 ratings

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Tyranny And Mutation
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One year and one month after the release of Blue Oyster Cult's debut album sees the release of their 2nd album "Tyranny and Mutation", February 1973 to be exact. With the same exact line-up as the first album, this time around we hear a lightening up of the music with more emphasis on bass, but a deepening of the band's mystique. The album this time is divided into 2 sections, side 1 being "The Black" and side 2 is "The Red". Sandy Pearlman this time writes the lyrics for 4 of the tracks and also co-produces with Murray Krugman. Most of the lead vocals (5 out of 8 tracks) are handled by Eric Bloom with 2 tracks sung by bassist Joe Brouchard and 1 track by guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser.

"The Black" side features 4 up beat, guitar-heavy, hard rock tracks that are thematic in nature. Starting with some power chords and advancing into a quick tempo, this track starts things off with a fast paced heavy track. This song was actually released on the debut album as a much more low key track called "I'm On the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep". This time the track is much more memorable with a better groove and tempo which at once draws your attention to the music.

"O.D.'d on Life Itself" uses a familiar rock riff somewhat similar to "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" by The Hollies, but the track itself is much better developed as it doesn't make that riff the focus of the song. It is a straightforward hard rock track with a sprinkle of psychedelic rock thrown in and a heart pounding guitar solo.

"Hot Rails to Hell" is the first track sung by J. Bouchard. At once, it is much more rousing than the previous track and more up beat. This was the only single released from the album, but it didn't do very well. Again, the central instrument is the guitar as are all four of the songs on The Black side of the album. This side ends with the longest track on the album "7 Screaming Diz-Busters". This track has more of a feel of the songs on the first album and is much more progressive with a more complex and changing melody and riff with some interesting meter changes. It is still driven heavily by guitar. It is also the best track on this half of the

The 2nd side, or "The Red" is much more progressive and experimental, and keyboards stand out more on this side. It starts out with "Baby Ice Dog" with lyrics written by Patti Smith who was J. Bouchard's girlfriend at the time. The song features a complex melody with less reliance on heaviness and guitars.

"Wings Wetted Down" is the second song sung by J. Bouchard and is more dark and evil sounding, yet it is also more ballad- like, but not exactly a ballad. It has a thick guitar riff, but the verses are driven by piano. The guitar solo is eerie sounding, yet the song is quite memorable.

"Teen Archer" was written by "Buck Dharma" Roeser who also does lead vocals. It was co-written by the other producer Murray Krugman. The melody itself is not really memorable and the track is one of the weaker ones on the album, but it does have a nice organ solo.

"Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)" is the final track on the album. It has a definite psychedelic and mysterious feel to it. The progressive leanings are obvious but it ends things a bit soft. BOC has not always chosen the best tracks to end albums with, but it is somewhat interesting at least.

Even though the production changes on this album helped to improve the sound of the band overall, it was more of a long- range improvement as this album seems a bit less interesting that the debut album. It may have something to do with the fact that they kept the fast and heavy tracks on one side and the more dynamic tracks on the second side. It probably would have served them better to mix things up a bit more. However, it isn't a terrible album, it is just a bit less interesting than the albums before and after it.

 Blue Öyster Cult by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.42 | 177 ratings

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Blue Öyster Cult
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In January of 1972, the band Blue Oyster Cult released their first album. The band was originally called "Soft White Underbelly" and played mostly psychedelic music. When they "repackaged" themselves as a hard rock band in order to increase their popularity, they came up with Blue Oyster Cult, a name that they originally didn't like and also which comes a poem about aliens that control the fate of the Earth written by Sandy Pearlman. Pearlman would end up co-producing many of the band's albums and he would also write the lyrics to many of their songs.

Their first album would show the transition to a harder rock sound, but for their first 4 albums, they would have that psychedelic feel that remained a part of their harder rock, and it gave them their original signature sound. That sound is quite apparent in their first album which would go on to influence what were then future bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Fates Warning, and Celtic Frost to name a few, but it would also inspire the more recent subgenre of hard rock called Stoner Rock and bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Umprhey's McGee, Widespread Panic and The Cult among others.

Every member of the band, except for Allen Lanier, would sing vocals on this album, but Eric Bloom was the main lead singer and sings all of the songs on this album except for the ones I mention in this review. This would give an excellent variety to the music. The music in the first 3 albums is a bit harder than what would come during the band's most popular days, but even then, it is not as heavy as most heavy metal bands. But even so, BOC was one of the most influential bands that started that genre. It was even said, in a review for the band that they were hard rock music for people that hate hard rock music.

The album starts off establishing their signature sound right away with "Trasmaniacon MC" which is about the Altamont Speedway Free Festival that took place on Dec. 6, 1969. This was a very violent festival where people actually lost their lives in a series of unrelated occurrences, and even The Grateful Dead, who was scheduled to appear, refused to come because of the news of the concert being violent. Even though BOC was not part of this festival, it was quite a famous occurrence at the time. The "MC" part of the title stands for Motorcycle Club.

"I'm on the Lam but I Ain't No Sheep" is inspired from a Captain Beefheart song called "Frying Pan". It was released several times by the band before they were known as Blue Oyster Cult and was recorded in different versions and tempos. The rhythm was sped up for this album. It is about a fugitive being chased through the wilderness by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was recorded again later with heavier guitars and released as "The Red and the Black" on the band's 2nd album. The song speeds up with a new bass line during the last instrumental section.

"Then Came the Last Days of May" is a softer, beautiful track performed in a more balled-like tempo. It is based on a drug deal gone bad where two friends were killed. It was usually played in concert as a vehicle to show off Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser's guitar skills and also sung by him.

"Stairway to the Stars" is based off of the boogie style riff at the beginning of the track which drives the song forward in an up tempo. It is co-written by Richard Meltzer who is known as the first real rock analyst (or critic).

"Before the Kiss, a Redcap" has a definite progressive edge with the use of multi meters and tempos that switch from mid- tempo to a heavy boogie style bass line in the bridge. It also features a great instrumental section shared by guitar and organ. Lead vocals are by Buck Dharma. Redcap was the term for the barbiturate called Dalmane. Sandy Pearlman, one of BOC's lyricists witnessed the drug being passed between two lovers before they kissed in Conry's Bar according to Buck Dharma.

Next comes the slower, more psychedelic "Screams" which features processed vocals sung by bassist Joe Bouchard. Again this features changing tempos between the verses and choruses. The psychedelic feel continues with "She's As Beautiful as a Foot" which segues from the previous track marked by a short drum solo. This song also has that mysterious, almost evil sound that the band would become famous for.

Next is the ever popular fan favorite "Cities on Flame with Rock 'n' Roll". This one has Albert Bouchard, the band's drummer, on the lead vocals. It starts off using a version of the riff from Black Sabbath's "The Wizard" and is inspired by that song. It is one of the heavier songs on the album and has become a concert staple even in recent shows.

"Workshop of the Telescopes" is credited to all the members of the band and Sandy Pearlman. Again, we get the evil sounding vocals on this one and a more progressive sound. "Redeemed" is the last track on the original album. This was a song that was sold to the band from singer-songwriter Harry Farcas, who according to Wikipedia, now is an iridologist in Southern California.

In 2001, a CD reissue of the album was produced which added 4 bonus tracks that were demo versions that the band recorded as "Soft White Underbelly" in 1969. The tracks are "Donovan's Monkey", "What is Quicksand", "A Fact About Sneakers", and the rock and roll classic "Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes". For the most part, these are all decent tracks even though they are demos, and sound quite similar to the tracks on the original album. For BOC fans, it is a worthwhile find for these extra tracks.

While this album is not as polished as later albums would be (mostly after "Agents of Fotrune"), that is what gives the album its unique sound and is also a great attraction of the album. As a big fan of BOC, I consider this one of the band's definite staples. But it is also essential as a prog rock album that influenced many bands and still continues to do so. It is an excellent mix of prog, psychedelic and hard rock that keeps getting better everytime you listen to it.

 On Your Feet Or On Your Knees by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Live, 1975
3.91 | 77 ratings

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On Your Feet Or On Your Knees
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by SteveG

4 stars I don't write reviews of bands that I have a personal history with, or have known personally, so this is a first. And will probably be the last.

Recorded live, Blue Oyster Cult's 1975 double album On your Feet Or On Your Knees magically and majestically captures BOC at the height of their "black and white album trilogy" powers (the eponymous debut album from 1972, Tyranny and Mutation from 1973, and Secret Treaties from 1974), and does something those three initial albums only hinted at. They rock out at full bore and showcase what a powerhouse BOC was on any given night in the early seventies. A feature truly hidden by the thin bass-shy production of those three albums.

On reflection, this album's production values are not top shelf in a few areas but it doesn't need to be. On Your Feet Or On Your Knees was recorded and (importantly) mixed clearly and is loud, detailed and full of energy. On Your Feet Or On Your Knees showcases the band's absolute definitive versions of Subhuman, Harvester of Eyes, Hot Rails To Hell, The Red And The Black, Then Came The Last Days of May, Cities On Flame and ME 262.

Eric Bloom's voice is stellar as is Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser's electrifying lead guitar playing, which is an absolute clinic in splitting the deference between technical chops and melodic invention. Trying to listen to any song without focusing solely on his playing is often difficult even forty two years later.

Why this album never pushed BOC to the top the way that Frampton Comes Alive did in the seventies will always be a mystery to the band and it's diehard fans. But this live document exists for the initiated who knew "The Cult" and their brand of edgy heavy rock long before the cowbell jokes came after listening to a song about the Grim Reaper. Four stars.

 Cultösaurus Erectus by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.43 | 134 ratings

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Cultösaurus Erectus
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Humzahj

5 stars In my opinion this is one of the best Blue Oyster Cult albums, I'll proceed to give my opinion on each of the tracks: BLACK BLADE: Not only is this the strongest song on the album but it's also one of BOC's strongest songs, with a perfect mix of rock and roll guitar (showcasing one of Buck Dharma's greatest solos), Eerie progressive synth breakdowns, primitive sounding drumming and sci-fi lyrics this song balances high and low well, the chorus is very powerful sounding heavy whereas the verses have this quirky jumpy sound (even though the dark subject matter contrasts it). The solo sections (guitar then synth) fit in perfectly even though in theory it wouldn't seem to work, even the chords in the song are very strange, it would take a musical mastermind to compose it. MONSTERS: Arguably the second best song on the album, it's easy to imagine the creepy giant monster on the cover whilst listening to this track. Monsters is another musically complex song with a fun "slimy" sounding riff and prog-rock synthesizers, the real uniqueness comes in these well places jazz interludes, which helps make the song so strangely catchy. DIVINE WIND: A grim, angry (almost passive) sounding track with a slow tempo and a powerful riff, lyrically speaks about America during a controversial time with an tyrant from Iran (at least so I've been told) The song is one of the stronger tracks on the album and will leave the lines "If he really thinks we're the devil, Then let's send him to hell" engraved in your brain. DEADLINE: Lyrically it's an ok song, good vocals too. It's catchy but musically straightforward. except the lead guitar licks are very good. Overall it's an average BOC song, but compared to the rest of the album, it's one of the weaker songs. MARSHALL PLAN: Another song to prove the creativity of BOC, this is definitely a more light-hearted song on the album, it's mildly comical as well. The song plays out as a narrative of a boy who has his girl stolen from him at a Rock show and then he get's mad and figures if he picks up a guitar and becomes a rock star he'll get his girl back, so he succeeds, and at the end still doesn't get the girl, but hey "that's the way it goes, it's Rock and roll!" Musically this song is blessed with a very catchy and powerful chorus accompanied by soaring solos by Buck Dharma towards the end, also there is a very clever sample of the infamous 'Smoke on the Water' by rock-giants 'Deep Purple' HUNGRY BOYS: Lyrically straightforward rocker, musically it's a catchy rock song with a chorus made to be implanted in your brain. It's very enjoyable to listen to and the upbeat fast tempo helps to lift your energy. Good song, not the strongest 'cos it doesn't take enough risks or delve too deep musically, but for what it is certainly not a bad song. FALLEN ANGEL: Arguably the most upbeat song on the album, with Joe Bouchard on vocals, this song is a synth-driven song with an infectiously catchy vocal melody. It's a song about satan (I presume) in which case it's the happiest sounding song I've heard about the devil.. Anyways, it's a fun creative track, I enjoy it but it's not my personal favorite. LIPS IN THE HILLS: Catchy song, with a powerful chorus (the chorus reminds me somewhat of the little brother of the monstrous opening song 'black blade') the song is a straightforward rocker. This album has two of those, 'Lips' and 'Hungry Boys', both catchy fun songs that are easy to get into, but not strong enough to make or break the album. Lips in the Hills is a fun song lyrically and instrumentally and fits in perfectly to the album. UNKOWN TONGUE: To me this song musically isn't too memorable, it's alright, not bad. But lyrically this song fares better the lyrics are eerie and dark (reminiscent to the first three BOC albums). Overall good closer to the album, not my favorite or least favorite in the album though.

Overall in my opinion there aren't any bad songs on 'Cultösaurus' it all works, musically creative, lyrically fun, even the album cover art is great at investing an audience. This album is a must-hear, shame it didn't get the attention it deserved.

 Cultösaurus Erectus by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.43 | 134 ratings

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Cultösaurus Erectus
Blue Öyster Cult Prog Related

Review by Kaelka

4 stars If I were a film director with a big budget, I would make an adaptation of Moorcock's "Elric of Melnibone". It would end, of course, with the destruction of the old world through Elric's blowing of the Horn of Fate (having to kill his bestest friend Moonglum between the second and third blow to gain enough energy for the task). Then Elric would stand up on the new world he'd just brought into existence, only to see Stormbringer moving slowly through the grass like an extremely venomous snake, jumping at him and stabbing him to death before leaping towards the sky and the stars to the sound of a satanic laughter. Fade to black, and then as the words "The End" appear on the screen, the soundtrack would start playing the intro of "Black Blade". That's what comes to my mind every time I listen to this great album.
 Spectres by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.22 | 132 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
3.15 | 182 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
2.42 | 106 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.

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

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