Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Number 403 - Blue Oyster Cult


Number 403

Blue Oyster Cult

"Don't Fear The Reaper"

(1976)
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402 .......Genre: Heavy Metal......... 404
art by Bill Gawlik
"If Spinal Tap wrote proper songs, this is the group they would have been". I can almost see Rob Reiner saying that in an interview. Another thing, Blue Oyster Cult is "officially" classed as the Genre Heavy Metal Yes, I know what you are thinking, that's like saying Abba is classed as Reggae. Mind you I classed "Beth" the song by Kiss as Rock and no-one has complained yet. The song "Don't Fear The Reaper" was voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as the best Rock Song of 1976. I have had a quick glance of the year 1976 [1955 to 2005 Songs by the year are shown down below every entry in "Definitive" scroll baby scroll!] and there are some very good songs [so far] for that year including the likes of Bob Dylan's "The Hurricane" [my personal fave], Peter Frampton's "Show Me The Way" and the Eagle's "Last Resort" to name a few. Please check out the years at the bottom of the page, they make for some interesting reading.
Fear it
Blue Öyster Cult was the thinking man's heavy metal group. Put together on a college campus by a couple of rock critics, it maintained a close relationship with a series of literary figures (often in the fields of science fiction and horror), including Eric Van Lustbader, Patti Smith, Michael Moorcock, and Stephen King, while turning out some of the more listenable metal music of the early and mid-'70s. The band that became Blue Öyster Cult was organized in 1967 at Stony Brook College on Long Island by students (and later rock critics) Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer as Soft White Underbelly and consisted of Andy Winters (bass), Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (guitar), John Wiesenthal -- quickly replaced by Allen Lanier -- (keyboards), and Albert Bouchard (drums), with Pearlman managing and Pearlman and Meltzer writing songs. Initially without a lead singer, they added Les Bronstein on vocals. This quintet signed to Elektra Records and recorded an album that was never released. They then dropped Bronstein and replaced him with their road manager, Eric Bloom, as the band's name was changed to Oaxaca. A second Elektra album also went unreleased, though a single was issued under the name the Stalk-Forrest Group.
cult of personalities
Cut loose by Elektra, they changed their name again, to Blue Öyster Cult, and signed to Columbia Records in late 1971, by which time Winters had been replaced by Albert Bouchard's brother Joe. Blue Öyster Cult, their debut album, was released in January 1972 and made the lower reaches of the charts. Columbia sent a promotional EP, Live Bootleg, to radio stations in October, and followed with BÖC's second album, Tyranny & Mutation, in February 1973. Their third album, Secret Treaties, was released in April 1974 and became their first to break into the Top 100 bestsellers. (It eventually went gold.) BÖC released a live double album, On Your Feet or on Your Knees, in February 1975. In May 1976, came their fourth studio album, Agents of Fortune, including the Top 40 (Top Ten on some charts) hit single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (featured in the classic John Carpenter horror film Halloween), which became their first gold and then platinum album. (On Your Feet went gold shortly after.) BÖC's sixth overall album, Spectres, was released in October 1977 and went gold in January 1978. In September 1978 came a second live album, Some Enchanted Evening, which eventually would become BÖC's second million-seller, followed by the studio album Mirrors in June 1979. A year later, BÖC released its ninth album, Cultosaurus Erectus, with the gold Fire of Unknown Origin, containing the Top 40 hit "Burnin' for You," following in June 1981.
an aging [but wiser] cult
In the summer of 1981, drummer Albert Bouchard was replaced by the band's tour manager and lighting designer, Rick Downey. BÖC's third live album, Extraterrestrial Live, was released in April 1982, followed by the studio album The Revolution by Night in October 1983. Downey left in 1984 and was replaced in 1985 by Jimmy Wilcox. The same year, Lanier left and was replaced by Tommy Zvonchek. BÖC released its 13th album, Club Ninja, in January 1986. Bassist Joe Bouchard left in 1986 and was replaced by Jon Rogers. In 1987, Lanier returned to the group, and Ron Riddle replaced Wilcox on drums. BÖC's 14th album, the concept recording Imaginos, became their final new album on Columbia Records in July 1988. BÖC scored the movie Bad Channels in 1992, by which time Chuck Burgi had replaced Ron Riddle on drums. In 1994, Blue Öyster Cult released Cult Classic, an album of re-recorded favorites, in connection with the use of their music in the TV miniseries of horror novelist Stephen King's The Stand. Numerous lineup changes ensued throughout the '90s (as the band kept on touring the world), and in 1995, were the subject of a double disc anthology, Workshop of the Telescopes. By the late '90s, BÖC had signed with the CMC label, resulting in their first album of all-new studio material in ten years, 1998's Heaven Forbid, and three years later The Curse of the Hidden Mirror. The group's music reached a whole new generation of hard rock fans when Metallica covered the BÖC classic "Astronomy" for their best-selling Garage Inc. album in 1998, as a few other best-of collections surfaced around the same time -- Super Hits and Don't Fear the Reaper: The Best Of. In 2001, Columbia/Legacy reissued BÖC's first four releases with a newly remastered sound and added bonus tracks. ~ [William Ruhlmann & Greg Prato, All Music Guide]
(Don't Fear) The Reaper [OK then]
Buck Dharma
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is a song by the rock band Blue Öyster Cult from their 1976 album, Agents of Fortune. It was written and sung by the band's lead guitarist, Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, and is built around Dharma's guitar riff that opens the song and reappears throughout. The edited single version was Blue Öyster Cult's biggest US hit, reaching #12 on the American charts in November 1976. The song remains a staple tune on classic rock radio playlists. In 1997, Mojo magazine ranked "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" at #80 in the "100 Greatest Singles of All Time". Rolling Stone magazine voted the song "Best Rock Single" of 1976, in 2004 the magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" ranked it at #397, and in 2009 it was named the 55th best hard rock song of all time by VH1. The reaper is a reference to the Grim Reaper, a traditional personification of death in European-based folklore. Lyrics such as "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity" have led many listeners to interpret the song to be about a murder-suicide pact, but Dharma says the song is about eternal love, not death: I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of it (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners.
The shortened single version of the song omits the guitar solo from 2:30 - 3:25. The 2001
remaster of Agents of Fortune includes Buck Dharma's original 4-track demo of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." The length of the version on the 2002 live album A Long Day's Night is 8:14. ~ [Source: Wikipedia]
For Spinal Tap see Number 659
For Abba see Number 919
For Kiss see Number 733
For Metallica see Number 408, Number 484, MM Vol 1 #033 & MM Vol 2 #136
For Bob Dylan see Number 491, #841 & #929
For Peter Frampton see Number 546
For the Eagles see Number 509
What does Rolling Stone think of BOC?
Agents of Fortune is a startlingly excellent album — startling because one does not expect Blue Oyster Cult to sound like this: loud but calm, manic but confident, melodic but rocking. Every song on the first side is commercially accessible without compromising the band's malevolent stance. One area of clear improvement is in the matter of lyrics; for the first time there is less emphasis on absurd, crypto-intellectual rambling and more of a coherent attack on a variety of subjects. The former had become simply tiresome; the latter opens up whole new areas for Cult investigation. "This Ain't the Summer of Love," for example, is a fresh approach to a subject one would expect to have been exhausted long ago.
The Cult is still loud ("Tattoo Vampire"), still mordant ("[Don't Fear] The Reaper"), still obsessed with their peculiar brand of beery mysticism ("E.T.I. [Extra Terrestrial Intelligence]"). But by dropping the S&M angle and by inserting slivers of genuine rock & roll like "True Confessions," their best song ever, the Cult is easing into maturity with integrity. Agents of Fortune's comparative slickness even serves to enhance their dark image: the ominous villainy conveyed by Buck Dharma's agile guitar lines on "Tenderloin" is far more effective than his heretofore standard thudding meanness. ~ [Source: Rolling Stone RS217]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '403rd Song of all Time' was "C'mon Everybody" by Eddie Cochran. Eddie Cochran has not appeared in The Definitive 1000.
Other songs with reference to Blue Oyster Cult #670, #688, #751
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 397 and the Album ranked at (No way brother from another mother)
This song has a Definitive 1000 rating of 78.3 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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