Saturday, May 17, 2014

LP of the Week - "Spectres," Blue Oyster Cult (1977)

You don't hear much about Blue Oyster Cult anymore, but they were a pretty big deal in the 70s.  I'm probably the type of fan that hard-core devotees would scoff at, because (along with a couple of million people) I jumped on the bandwagon when "Don't Fear the Reaper" hit the airwaves, and the album from which that song came, "Agents of Fortune," hit the top of the charts.  Christgau referred to that album as "the Fleetwood Mac of hard rock," and that's a fair description.

I'm confident that this puts me in the minority, but my favorite album of theirs was "Spectres," the follow up to "Agents" released in the fall of 1977.  The album may lack a single song with the power of "Reaper" (although "I Love the Night," a vampire tale that could be viewed as a sequel to the earlier song, comes close), but it's remarkably consistent, with all of the band's songwriters - Eric Bloom, Joe Bouchard, Albert Bouchard, Donald (Buck Dharma) Roeser, and Allen Lanier - contributing at least one strong tune.

The album's best known song, "Godzilla," opens the album and sets the tone of a band that isn't taking itself too seriously, despite their reputation.  "Golden Age of Leather" follows that, and is another example of the band, essentially, making fun of itself.  Other strong tracks include "Searchin' For Celine," "Fireworks," and "Goin' Through the Motions."  There really isn't a bad track on the album.

I saw them perform once, in the summer of 1979 on a double bill with the red-hot (at the time) Cheap Trick.  It was a good show, and I'm pretty sure some version of the group is still out there playing somewhere.  At the end of the day, Blue Oyster Cult may not have quite been Hall of Fame material, but they were pretty darn good.

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