New Album Review:
The Essential Blue Oyster Cult
2 CD Set on Epic / Legacy Label – Street Date – April 17, 2012
In 1967, a group of musicians from my home town of Long Island, NY, formed under the name of Soft White Underbelly, playing a mix of psychedelic stylized rock and heavy chord progressions, creating a unique and wholly new musical experience. The group found themselves with a loyal following that grew exponentially with every gig they played, soon after they would change their name to Blue Oyster Cult, and with that change, they would step out of the darkness into the white hot fire of music legendry. In 1972 they would be signed to Columbia records and begin shaping their entirely new sound into a collection of albums that are in, or should be in, every album collection across the world.
The music of Blue Oyster Cult is electrically infused rhythms and storytelling lyrics that create pictures of the dark side in the human mind, facing demons, escaping soulless entities and ghosts of the past. Once given the title “Doom Rock” Blue Oyster Cult has been noted to be akin to artists such as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Arthur Brown and those who would touch upon the taboos of society and paint pictures of an alternate reality that makes the blood of the squeamish run cold, yet for those of us who relish the heavy beats and the “mind blowing” riffs, it is the religious experience of the sound that would influence the now heavy metal sound that permeates the radio airwaves. Blue Oyster cult can be directly credited with being the cornerstone of the modern rock movement. In my youth, I would go to a nightclub in Bayshore, Long Island called Sundance, this was the Rock & Roll Club that every band throughout the Rock & Roll world wanted to, and would play, on every Halloween I would see Blue Oyster Cult play and the crowd was always energized by the sounds of Eric Bloom’s voice and the hypnotic rhythms and guitar serenades of Buck Dharma.
With a discography over 21 albums, not including imports, live albums, movie soundtracks and previous collections, Blue Oyster Cult has had, and still retains one of the most impressive careers in music, and now they have amassed a collection of their most historically innovative songs from their groundbreaking albums of all time.
The Essential Blue Oyster Cult 2 CD set to be released on April 17 of 2012 will be the total tribute to a band that is the embodiment of Rock & Roll in a lifelong tour that started in the late 60’s and still performs on every stage today. With songs like “Stairway to the Stars”, “O.D.’d on Life Itself”, “Flaming Telepaths”,” Harvester of Eyes” (Live), “Don’t fear the Reaper”, “Godzilla” and more, this collection of hits and dark tales of a secret underworld will excite Blue Oyster Cult fans both old and new. I personally found the addition of Blue Oyster Cult’s live renditions of “Born to be Wild” and “Roadhouse Blues” to be spectacular.
The tracks on this collection are however from the earlier albums that are hard to find or no longer available, which is great, but I would have liked to see more tracks from their more recent albums, such as Heaven Forbid, Curse of the Hidden Mirror and A Long Days Night which would have shown how the band can, after so many years, keep their song concepts, writing and musical genius fresh and innovative. If you get a chance, look up “Like to See You in Black” from Heaven Forbid and “The Old Gods Return” from Curse of the Hidden Mirror. I am also a bit surprised about some songs that did not appear on this collection, “Vengeance (the Pact)” which was from the album Fire of Unknown Origin or “Unknown Tongue” from album Cultosaurus Erectus- not complaining, just a bit surprised that they were not included.
The Essential Blue Oyster Cult 2 CD set is not just a re-imaging of prior recordings, of poorly recorded live tracks, but has crystal clear sound and does not sound over sampled or “over-produced”, the live tracks a fantastic and you can hear, and often feel, the excitement of those in the audience, so if you never have been to a Blue Oyster Cult show, you can just close your eyes and instantly be transported to the arena and bask in the power and the glory of the BOC. I strongly suggest this as an album for the new Fan of Blue Oyster Cult; it is an audio-logically perfect History of Rock lesson for the newly ordained BOC neophyte, and then begin to build on this collection with the complete albums both old and new, you can never have too much Blue Oyster Cult. I will also leave you with this one last piece of advice, after listening to The Essential Blue Oyster Cult at the highest possible volume you can endure, dig out the nightlight, keep a flashlight under your pillow and find pleasant things to dream about, the shadows may be watching.