Posts Tagged ‘Blue Oyster Cult’

All right, I’m halfway through this project. I guess it’s time for a recap.

Again, I’ve based my selections on familiarity with the albums and personal preference, as well as my actually owning them on compact disc. I’m not including compilations or archival releases. Plus I’ve tried to limit the number of selections by a certain artist; obviously, anything the Beatles recorded is a better album than the Electric Prunes’ “Mass in F Minor,” which wasn’t even recorded in its entirety by the actual Electric Prunes. But I’m not going to include the entire Beatles discography. (My apologies to Brad Hundt.)

So here we go:

100. “6 and 12 String Guitar” by Leo Kottke
99. “A Picture of Nectar” by Phish
98. “Mass in F Minor” by the Electric Prunes
97. “Back Into the Future” by Man
96. “Brave New World” by the Steve Miller Band
95. “Bridge of Sighs” by Robin Trower
94. “Dual Mono” by the Greenhornes
93. “Live” by Golden Earring
92. “New Riders of the Purple Sage” by New Riders of the Purple Sage
91. “Born Under a Bad Sign” by Albert King
90. “Blue Oyster Cult” by Blue Oyster Cult
89. “Hollywood Dream” by Thunderclap Newman
88. “Mothership Connection” by Parliament
87. “Smash Your Head Against the Wall” by John Entwistle
86. “Billion Dollar Babies” by Alice Cooper
85. “Blues Helping” by Love Sculpture
84. “Stratosfear” by Tangerine Dream
83. “New Dark Ages” by the Radiators
82. “High Time” by the MC5
81. “Third” by Soft Machine
80. “Blues for Allah” by the Grateful Dead
79. “Nazz Nazz” by the Nazz
78. “Fun House” by the Stooges
77. “Elephant” by the White Stripes
76. “Marquee Moon” by Television
75. “After Bathing at Baxter’s” by Jefferson Airplane
74. “Forever Changes” by Love
73. “White Light/White Heat” by the Velvet Underground
72. “Fear of Music” by Talking Heads
71. “Spectrum” by Billy Cobham
70. “Garcia” by Jerry Garcia
69. “London Calling” by the Clash
68. “Procol Harum” by Procol Harum
67. “Blue Train” by John Coltrane
66. “Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin
65. “Vincebus Eruptum” by Blue Cheer
64. “Made in Japan” by Deep Purple
63. “Yer’ Album” by the James Gang
62. “The Gilded Palace of Sin” by the Flying Burrito Brothers
61. “The Who Sell Out” by The Who
60. “re-ac-tor” by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
59. “Truth” by Jeff Beck
58. “Safe As Milk” by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
57. “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” by Pink Floyd
56. “#1 Record” by Big Star
55. “Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part 1” by the Kinks
54. “Head Hunters” by Herbie Hancock
53. “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” by Spirit
52. “Sticky Fingers” by the Rolling Stones
51. “The Inner Mounting Flame” by the Mahavishnu Orchestra
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“Blue Oyster Cult” by Blue Oyster Cult (1972)

Usually I’m griping when I bring up music from 1976, but the year actually had quite a few bright spots. One of them was the hit-single status of the Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” which came as a sublimely welcome break between tripe like “Convoy” and “Afternoon Delight.”

At the time, the BOC’s marketing campaign portrayed the guys as something like “the least-understood band in America,” which did sound cool to us consumers. And there was something about the band’s name – my dad still invokes it when making fun of rock music – that set it apart from everyone else.

“Agents of Fortune,” which contains the full version of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” is a tremendous album, complete with a guest vocal spot by Patti Smith. But as much as I like the 1976 offering, I’ve always preferred the band’s Columbia Records debut.

A bit of background: Basically the same group had started in the ’60s as the psychedelically oriented Soft White Underbelly, then landed a deal with Elektra Records as the Stalk-Forrest Group. Besides one single that barely was released, most of that material languished in the vaults for decades.

Shifting gears from the out-of-vogue psychedelia to the up-and-coming hard rock – it never quite was heavy metal – the band took another stab as the Blue Oyster Cult and eventually struck chart gold.

The debut set the blueprint, and some of its tracks are integral parts of the BOC stage show 40 years later: “Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll,” “Before the Kiss, a Redcap” and the based-on-a-true-story “Then Came the Last Days of May.”

The last-named, in fact, appears on the album in its demo form, as the band felt it couldn’t improve on guitarist Don “Buck Dharma” Roeser’s tale of “three good buddies” who plan to bring certain substances back from Mexico, only to fall victim to a bloody ambush.

The lyrics to most of the other songs are fairly arcane, as was the plan of writers Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer. When you try to probe the meaning of a song called “She’s As Beautiful As a Foot,” you may run into some difficulty.

Nevertheless, rock critics generally gave the record the thumbs-up on its release. The oft-curmudgeonly Robert Christgau of The Village Voice, for example, wrote that it was “the tightest and most musical hard rock record since – dare I say it – ‘Who’s Next.'”

When a record draws any comparison whatsoever to that particularly work by The Who, you might want to listen.