Blue Oyster Cult — Track by Rockin’ Track

Articles | Jan 1st, 2004

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What is the greatest rock n’ roll band ever to come out of Long Island? KISS? Umm, yeah… Well, besides them. Billy Joel? True, true… Debbie Gibson? Well, yeah… So who does that leave? That’s right! Blue Oyster Cult!

Blue Oyster Cult were one of the first real heavy metal bands, and as a historic sidenote — their manager Sandy Pearlman was the first to apply the phrase heavy metal to the music at hand! As much as they rocked, they were at times weird, experimental, and hard to classify. They also had very intelligent lyrics that ranged from social commentary to mythology to psychology to the macabre to science fiction to the supernatural. Hey, this is interesting… My friend Jay told me that I’m somehow related to Richard Meltzer — the rock journalist/critic from the 70’s who single-handedly made famous and co-wrote half their early songs. Now how about that! I’ve never seen the guy at any family gatherings but I hear he’s a recluse. Or maybe he’s dead. Who cares? Point is, is a great band, they rock my ass off, and here’s my take on every track they ever recorded. Cult Power!!

After Dark – It rocks, it’s got cute casio effects, this song RULES. BOC are masters of splicing cuteness with rockiness, without becoming cheesy. This song makes me bop. Bop! Wa-hoo! (FU)

Astronomy – Originally it was written for a long-delayed theme album that later became the complex “Imaginos.” But this version, released on ST, is so beautiful and it just touches something inside of me. Their own description of the song? “The rhythm of events on-rushing; the gallop of events in the saddle; the Invisibles visible at last and manifest; no more hints or traces, but, their agent unleashed to forge a new destiny…” Well, umm, okay, but does it rock? Does it!!! It sure freakin’ does!! This is one of the greatest songs EVER!! (ST, SEE, IM)

Baby Ice Dog – Dumb song that begins “The Red” side of Tyranny & Mutation, which is the less rockin’, lame side. (TM)

Beat Em Up – The best song on the cheesy synthy Club Ninja. It’s poppy, but does rock a bit. Would make a great live song. (CN)

Before The Kiss, A Redcap – Bad title, great song. Their trademark is to have dumb titles for all their great songs. This one’s a bluesy tune with lots of energy. The best part is the middle where it goes into this weird, keyboard, hand-clappin’ country-like shuffle. (BOC)

Black Blade – Oh wow. This used to be one of my favorite songs, and I still think it’s pretty keen. This song is about that Michael Moorcock fantasy book about the Elric guy with the sword that possessed him or something like that. Anyhoo, this song is all about that stuff, and it rocks. When they do the fantasy stuff well, they do it really well. (CE, XL)

Blue Oyster Cult – Not an anthem that you’d expect… This is just another weird song from the Imaginos tone poem. (IM)

Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf’s classic biker tune was covered by their protege on the On Your Feet live album. Hey, this is the song that coined the phrase “Heavy metal.” Whoa. (ON)

Buck’s Boogie – Crazy guitar solo on their first live album. Heavy riff, rockin’ drums, this smokes! (ON)

Burnin’ For You – Probably their biggest hit next to Don’t Fear The Reaper. It’s the same formula — Heavy rock ballad that’s very radio friendly. Honestly though, I have to admit that this song is so freakin’ good. I absolutely love it. Of course I do: it’s on Fire of Unknown Origin! (FU, XL)

Cagey Cretins – Is this song about giant worms attacking Maine? I was never able to figure it out. (ST)

Career Of Evil – Co-penned by Patti Smith, this cool, evil song opens up the incredible third album Secret Treaties. Evil lyrics (“I’d like to do it to your daughter/On a dirt road.”) The keyboards carry the riff, creating the full-keyboard sound that is to soon become uniquely (or the Doors. Or any other band with a full-keyboard sound). (ST)

Celestial The Queen – Surprisingly cool song, given the cheesy title and chorus, on the keys-heavy Spectres album. (SP)

Cities On Flame With Rock & Roll – This song is pure heavy metal. Heavy, heavy riff. Head-bangin’ beats. This was their first single, and a sign of the all the great rockin’ to come. This is a metal classic. “My heart is black/and my lips are cold./Cities on flame/with rock and roll./Three thousand guitars/They seem to cry./My ears will melt/and then my eyes.” Oh man, this is one of my favorites. (BOC, ON, XL)

Dancin’ In The Ruins – Hard rock pop, but very catchy. Pretty good. (CN)

Deadline – Wake me up when it’s over. (CE)

Death Valley Nights – Rock ballad on Spectres. Nice piano work by keyboardist Allen Lanier, but the overall product is lackluster and snoozey. (SP)

Debbie Denise – This is the song that closes out the interesting Agents of Fortune album. It’s a fucked-up ballad that wants very badly to rock out. There’s a lot going on here; a very complete sound. Actually, this song would be perfect with a moog. (AOF)

Del Rio’s Song – Hey, I know someone named Dale Rio!! Whoa!! She takes pictures and has cool tattoos. Her boyfriend made me a cool Mod tape. The song’s not about her tho. It’s about… hell, I dunno! It’s on Imaginos. But it’s pretty good! (IM)

Divine Wind – Boringsaurus. (CE)

Dominance and Submission – This song is so cool. The original on ST is kinda retarded with the badly overdubbed vox, but the live version on XL totally smokes! (ST, XL)

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – This is the song that MADE Blue Oyster Cult. It’s a spooky ballad, with a very nice sound and cute background vox. They kinda sound like the Hollies in a fucked-up acid-soaked way. Great cowbell percussion, strong guitar work, cool keyboard mid-part solo, and perfect harmonies. It even rocks! (AOF, SEE, XL)

Don’t Turn Your Back – “Big money goes around the world!” Sorry, the guitars here sound like Rush. A decent song, with the quality here being Eric Bloom’s amazing voice. A nice laid-back closing tune on the brilliant and ingenius Fire Of Unknown Origin album. What a great album! (FU)

Dr. Music – Ugh, I don’t dig this song. It’s got the cheesiest chorus and lousy harmonica solo. But there is this cool latin-afro percussion thingy toward the end. (MR, XL)

Dragon Lady – Forgettable. (RN)

E.T.I. (Extra Terrestial Intelligence) – Definitely the best song on Agents of Fortune. Cool riff, great keys, driving drums, and just a great song. Musically and lyrically, it’s also a precursor of some of the weird sci-fi effects and references later found on Cultosaurus Erectus & Fire of Unknown Origin. Classic!! (AOF, SEE, XL)

Eyes On Fire – Purely 1983. (RN)

Fallen Angel – You’d think with a title like Fallen Angel’ this would be a ballad! Posh! This ain’t Aerosmith we’re talking about here! This is Blue Fucking Oyster Cult, motherfucker! It ROCKS! It’s FUNKY! This song is purely for bopping. Pardon me, I must bop. Bop. Bop. (CE)

Feel The Thunder – Early 80s synth-rock with a spooky edge. A song about bikers that doesn’t work because it just doesn’t rock. Where’s the Heavy Metal Thunder?? I don’t feel it… (RN)

Fire Of Unknown Origin – The title track of one of the BEST records EVER. Folks, you HAVE to listen to this album. It’s so good, it’s eerie. It doesn’t totally rock out, but chooses a more pop route but it’s consistently great regardless. Anyway this song just totally smokes. Great full sound, oh MAN, this tune is AWESOME!! This is gonna be my wedding song. (FU)
Fireworks – BOC discovered cheesiness at this point in their career. This song is pure Hard Rock. My head is bopping, not banging! Still a good song though. (SP)

Flaming Telepaths – Classic! It’s got this Hollies sound that I can’t put my finger on, but lyrically it’s twisted and about drug abuse (I think). I love this song! “And the joke’s on you…” (ST)

Godzilla – One of their most popular tunes that made them gods in the eyes of the Japanese. It’s a cute song, but nothing special to me. “Oh no, there goes Tokyo! Go go Godzilla!” Best line: “History shows again and again, how nature points out the folly of man. Godzilla!” (SP, SEE, XL)

Goin’ Through The Motions – Hand-clappin’, foot-stompin’, fun ball of energy. Interspersed with ballad-esque keys and vox, and neat-o chimes and sound effects. My favorite song on Spectres. (SP)

Golden Age Of Leather – Rockin’ biker tune, sentimentalizing the umm.. golden age of leather! “Bodies and bikes, beyond repair. The smell of gas and oil in the air.” Harleys, chrome, beer, knife fights, it’s all here! Plus, a lyrical reference to the Red & the Black, my favorite song! (SP)

The Great Sun Jester – Starts off like a bad song from the Red Side of TM, but then starts to rock. A pretty cool song, even though I have no idea what it’s about. Something about a star that gets stripped of its power (?) (MR)

Harvester of Eyes – I used to love this song. It’s pretty cool and weird, and ends with toy piano music! (ST, ON)

Heavy Metal: The Black And Silver – The rockinest song on Fire, but certainly not the best. This metal song borders a bit on the glam side, and it just seems.. I dunno… kinda redundant. I mean, you can’t write a heavy metal song about heavy metal and call it Heavy Metal. And I think this song was in that terrible anime-wannabe movie Heavy Metal. Lame. (FU)

Hot Rails To Hell – Pure biker metal, baby!! Frontal lobe attack!! Macabre, yet it rocks to no end! A great, great live song. Cult power! (TM, ON, XL)

Hungry Boys – What the hell is going on here?? This is NUTS!!! Woo woo!! It’s heavy, and it’s about junkies in withdrawal, but the vocals and harmonies are so cute, in a weird eerie way. It rocks, it’s weird, it’s CULT POWER!!!! (CE)

I Am The One You Warned Me Of – Back to rockin’ after their two sucky pop records, BOC are in top form on this opener to the indecipherable concept album Imaginos. (IM)

I Am The Storm – Terrible. Absolutely terrible. I am forever scarred. (MR)

I Love The Night – Uh oh. They love the night. Eep! Enough sarcasm, this ballad is actually very pretty, with nice vox and guitars. (SP)

Imaginos – If you got up to this song on the same titled album, then you have almost successfully completed it. Congrats! Now explain it to me. (IM)

I’m On The Lamb, But I Ain’t No Sheep – A cool, fast finger-pickin’ guitar riff and heavy drums, but the song itself doesn’t really stand out. Ends with a cool jazzy guitar-drums rock-out. (BOC)

In Thee – Yet another song that for some reason reminds me of the Hollies. Probably because of the vocal harmonies and smooth piano and guitar chords. This is a very pretty song. Not too ballady, but *nice* sounding. Very very nice. (MR)

In The Presence Of Another World – Eh, it’s all right. Part of that Imaginos song-cycle thingy. (IM)

Joan Crawford – BOC have sung about vampires, Godzilla, even Satan. But what is the most frightening demonic creature they have ever thought up?? Joan Crawford, risen from the grave. This song is hilarious, pure evil, and it rocks so much I don’t know what to do with myself. Should I dance? Mosh? Headbang? Skank? Jump around like a moron? Yes… Yes, that is what I shall do. (FU, XL)

Kick Out The Jams – Awesome cover of the classic MC5 pre-punk anthem. BOC kick it out with even more energy than the original. (SEE)

Les Invisibles – Pretty cool, but I don’t know what’s going on. Imaginos weirdness. (IM)

Let Go – Hard rockin’ pop on RN. Pretty good purposely-designed anthem, equipped with hand claps and poppy background vox. “B-O-C! You can be – whatever you want to be. – You got the power – we got the key! Yeah! B-O-C!” Best song on RN. (RN)

Light Years Of Love – AAAAAGGGHHH!!! Make it stop!!! NOOooooooo!!!! (RN)

Lips In The Hills – This rocks, but I have no idea what it’s about. It rocks so freakin’ much tho. I must go and mosh around my room in my pajamas. (CE)

Lonely Teardrops – Cheesy title, but the song is actually really funky and cool, probably because the guitar riff was stolen from a track off of Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti.” (MR)

Madness To The Method – Oh god. Why??? (CN)

Magna Of Illusion – This song would be great if I knew what the fuck was going on. Stupid confusing Imaginos album!! (IM)

Make Rock Not War – Should be “Make Weak Hard Rock Synth Pop Not War.” (CN)

The Marshall Plan – Pure rock song, with a hidden Deep Purple riff stuck in there for good measure! Man this rocks. “Tell ya, I ain’t playin’ no surf music. I’m gonna play some HEAVY music! I’m gonna play bad! I’m gonna play LOUD! I know just what I want it to sound like… It’s gonna sound like.. It’s gonna sound like….THIS!!!!!!!” (Enter loud, obnoxious guitar solo). (CE)

ME 262 – A pure, fun rock n’ roll song about the bomb. Could pass for a KISS song. (ST, ON)

Mirrors – A good example of the change in BOC’s style around this time. Less focus on mmmmetal guitar solos, and more focus on better structured songs and stronger production. This is a great song, with tons of different instruments in the background. A very strong, full-sounding song. (MR)

Mistress Of The Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl) – Disappointing closing song at the end of the great Tyranny & Mutation record. Great drumming though. (TM)

Monsters – A weird one, but a goodie. Its rockin’ riffs are abruptly interrupted by super-jazzy bursts, complete with horn riffs, swingin’ drums, and walking basslines. A very fun song. (CE)

Moon Crazy – First a Sun Jester, now a Moon? The Mirrors album does have a loose sky theme. Then again, all of their albums have sky or night songs (Stairway to the Stars, Workshop of the Telescopes, Astronomy, Death Valley Nights, I Love the Night, After Dark, Feel the Thunder to name a few). Hmm. Anyway, this song is pretty weak and structurally inconsistent. A snoozer for the first few minutes that ends with an interesting country shuffle. (MR)

Morning Final – Keys-heavy tune about a junkie. Pretty spooky and weird. (AOF)

Nosferatu – Snoozer ending the great Spectres album. (SP)

O.D.’d On Life Itself – The background of this song is great – the background keys and vocals makes this one cool-ass song. Cool lyrics. Eric Bloom sounds like Joey Ramone a little here. (TM)

Perfect Water – Crap. Co-written by Basketball Diaries fuck-up Jim Carroll. (CN)

The Red & The Black – Fast-paced, metal-boppy (with even a bit of a gospel feel) BOC classic about the Canadian Mounties that opens “The Black” side (the rockin’ side) on their second album, the incredible Tyranny and Mutation. “It’s all right! It’s all right!” Very fun song. Great to hear in concert, and I once even saw Mike Watt cover it live! (TM, ON, XL)
Redeemed – The first album closes with this boppy, pretty song that ends with a wall of sound. Reminds me of early Rush. (BOC)

The Revenge Of Vera Gemini – Some chick starts off the song reciting some weird stuff. Then she sings background. I wonder if it’s Patti Smith. She’s always hanging around BOC for some reason or another. Hmm. (AOF)
Roadhouse Blues – Great live jam of the classic Doors song, featuring Robbie Krieger. If anyone can do a Doors cover perfect, it’s BOC. (XL)

R.U. Ready To Rock – This song… can you guess it?… ROCKS! Not as rockin’ as AC/DC’s “Are You Ready (To Rock)?” but still great, and even better live! (SP, SEE)

Searchin’ For Celine – Funky-rock! Probably the only BOC song you can dance to. Celine is a chick they’re searchin’ for, not the French author of Journey to the End of the Night, a great great book. This song is really cool. (SP)

Screams – Vox-distorted trippy song. Dumb spooky lyrics. Goes right into She’s As Beautiful As a Foot. (BOC)

7 Screaming Diz-Busters – A swingy, rockin’ song that beings with highlighting Eric Bloom’s great voice, and then takes a bluesy-metal turn with a dual-guitar onslaught that melts your fucking brain!!! Then calms down at the end and gets swingy n’ cool. (TM, ON)

Shadow Of California – Synth-city. Drums that sound like Hot Stix. Sadly, this is probably the best song on RN. (RN)

Shadow Warrior – Deet deet deet. More of the same 80s BOC pop sound, this one co-written by author Eric Van Lustbader. Lalala, I’m bored. (CN)

She’s As Beautiful As A Foot – The second part of “Screams.” Spooky belly-dancing music. (BOC)

Shooting Shark – Co-written by Patti Smith and produced by Bruce Fairbairn of Loverboy and Bon Jovi fame. VERY 80’s pop. It’s even got a Kenny G-esque sax solo. Blech. (RN)

The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein’s Castle At Weisseria – Say what? Well, it rocks that’s for sure! (IM)

Sinful Love – Mediocre song with a cheesy chorus. (AOF)

Sole Survivor – Powerful song about the last man on Earth. Kick-ass bassline, heavy keys, great vox. (FU)

Spy In The House Of The Night – 80s pop. Cheesy. (CN)

Stairway To The Stars – This is one of their biggest songs, but it can only be appreciated live. It lacks energy in its original recorded version. (BOC)

Subhuman – Cool riff, but lackluster overall. The guitar solo is a bit overextended. Snooze. (ST,ON)

Take Me Away – Okay song on the lackluster Rev