Wednesday, August 5, 2009

VINYL DESTINATION 4: The Blue Oyster Cult

"The Blue Oyster Cult were American psychos who emerged fully formed and full-blooded on a wave of scintillating imagery" --Dave Thomson, "I Hate New Music"

"Dont Fear the Reaper" is one of the penultimate songs of my youth. From the moment when I first heard Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser's signature riff (which I'm having a whale of a time playing myself, damn rigid fingers) to the time when my brother-in-law and I sat up for an hour after he completed his third shift week trying to interpret the lyrics from listening closely to my sisters ancient Panasonic tape recorder. But it isn't the album it came from, "Agents of Fortune", it's their late 70's romantic masterpiece I need to speak on here, "Spectres".

It opens with the apocalyptic waffle-stomper "Godzilla", a riff as memorable as any, (this one I can play, with relative ease), and a seminal rock chop. The riff begins a fun tune that finishes in typical BOC fashion, with seriousness. The reprised lyric, "History shows again and again, how nature points out the folly of man.". It's a message echoed by the 1954 Inishiro Honda film of the same name that inspired it. Nukes are bad. Radiation is a monster.

"I Love the Night" is a great piece of rock and roll storytelling about a heartbroken chap having late night hook-ups with a mysterious "Lady in White". It's beautiful layered harmonies provide a nice apex for a mid-tempo ballad. Very cool stuff.

This LP actually provides a few glimpses into off-kilter romance and obsession.

"Going thru the Motions" an Eric Bloom track co-written with Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter, speaks in a melancholy yet whimsical way of an ill-conceived relationship that is somehow fondly remembered when viewed through the sandy glass of time. A sad-feeling verse leads to an almost doo-wopish chorus complete with hand claps and piano. It's actually catchy.

"Nosferatu" tells the legend of Dracula in the guise of F.W. Murnau's German expressionistic horror film of the same name. Instead of ending with the stake through the heart, it climaxes with the dread vampire dying because he "stayed too long in her room." He's a victim of the sun and it's light, and his own love.
Simple yet beautiful piano scales accompanied by Buck Dharma's guitar provide a gorgeous backdrop for the story.
The fate of the Demeter never sounded so lovely.

There are other rockers here besides "Godzilla" however. "R.U. Ready 2 Rock" is a great fist-pumping concert opener, and "The Golden Age of Leather" is a ripping rythym line over a lengthy lyric about Excalibur-style battles taking place on motorcycles in a distant future that somehow feels like the past.

Weird, huh?

That's what BOC does best. "Spectres" is exhibit A.

Do your own deliberation and give it a listen.

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