BLUE OYSTER CULT

"iHeart Radio Theater NYC 2012" (Frontiers Music SRL; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Yes, another live Blue Oyster Cult release, this one recorded (obvisouly) in New York City at the iHeart Radio Theater in 2012 (I had to Google that and yes, iHeart Radio's been around since 2008!).

I'm only giving this particular live collection three guitarsaws because, honestly, I can't tell you if it's any better or any worse than any of the other live Blue Oyster Cult releases out there. There are people who can, particularly those die-hard fans who've been following the band religiously for decades and decades but ... as much as I like Blue Oyster Cult ... the live albums all tend to blend together to me.

That being said, I listened to this particular collection from beginning to end and it rocks just fine. The band sounds great and the sound is crystal clear (perhaps too much sometimes, the band's flaws are as clearly heard as their triumphs). I can't speak to visuals of the Blu-Ray release because I haven't seen that.

Bottom line: Do you have to run out and immediately buy Blue Oyster Cult's "iHeart Radio Theater NYC 2012?" Nah. Again, there was nothing here that you haven't heard on other live BOC releases. But, if you're a collector or a completest, this should definitely be on your shelf.

 For more information, check out http://www.blueoystercult.com

"Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014" (Frontiers Music SRL; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The legendary Blue Oyster Cult began life back in 1967, under the name Soft White Underbelly. Of course, the Blue Oyster Cult name was used for most of the 53(!) years that passed (although the band would occasionally return to Soft White Underbelly for small club shows, etc). Of course, the name isn't the only thing that changed throughout that half century of extistence. Band members evolved as time went on, band line-ups came and went, and everyone had their fair share of personal issues over that course of time -- just like the rest of us.

I mention this because, after just listening to the new release of "Cult Classics," and then to this live release, I was struck by how different BOC sounds from their earlier recordings to their live sound today (I guess 'recent sound' might be a better choice of words since this recording is from 2014). The difference isn't a bad thing but, if you compare side-to-side like I did, the difference is apparent. Again, it's not a bad thing; it would suck if the band sounded exactly like they did on their recordings all these years later. But the fact is they've been mastering their instruments over the past nearly fifty years and the live album might even sound tighter than those old classic recordings. Plus, the vocals are a little different (time has mellowed voices) and the music seems a little heavier, and that's never a bad thing for me.

Everything also sounds bigger on this live album and I love that. You can feel the energy of the live performance cutting through you. Sadly, I haven't seen the Blu-ray version of this recording but I'm betting it's pretty awesome as well.

The tracklisting is another collection of greatest hits from the band, including most of the tunes on the "Cult Classics" compilation, plus a few more recent tunes such as the classics "Golden Age of Leather" and "Black Blade."

And I'd remiss if I didn't comment on the incredible sound quality. You can hear every live note on this recording and the band's nearly flawless performance is captured beautifully.

Recommended for any Blue Oyster Cult fan, "Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014" is a document to the greatness of this long-standing band.

 For more information, check out http://www.blueoystercult.com

"Cult Classics" (Frontiers Music SRL; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

First of all, I know what you're thinking. I was thinking the same thing, too. "'Cult Classics?' Wasn't that released like twenty-five years ago?" And you'd be right. The original "Cult Classics" was released in 1994. But this is a remastered version, and features some additional bonus tracks that I don't think were around on the original release.

Second, I hate to give compilation albums high ratings. I mean, it's all the greatest hits, right? It feels a little bit like cheating. And the big hits are all here: "Burning For You," "Cities on Fire (with Rock'n'Roll)," "This Ain't the Summer of Love," "Buck's Boogie" and two, count 'em, two, versions of "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Godzilla." And more. There are a few tracks I'd have like to see added to this addition: "Black Blade" and "I Want to See You in Black" come to mind. But still, this is a great collection of Blue Oyster Cult songs.

It's been too long since I've last sat down and listened to some Blue Oyster Cult, and I almost forgot how freaking great they are. Most of the songs on this version of "Cult Classics" are truly classics. It's hard not to get goosebumps when you hear that opening riff of "Don't Fear the Reaper" or the crunchy guitars of "Harvester of Eyes." The two bonus tracks, "TV Mixes" of "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Godzilla," are interesting in their mostly instrumental make-up.

I also have to say that--although I don't know the extent of the re-mastering done on this edition--these songs have never sounded better. I'm listening to "Don't Fear the Reaper" as I write this and there are nuances I've never noticed before. Each song is richer, clearer and more dynamic than I remember from the past ... and I've heard these songs literally hundreds of times.

So, if you're wondering if you need to replace our old 1994 edition of this CD, I'd say the answer is yes. Or, if you don't own the previous release, you'd be wise to pick up this one, even if you have the songs included here on various other Blue Oyster Cult releases (like I do).

I'm glad this version of "Cult Classics" came across my desk. It's inspired me to dig into my Blue Oyster Cult catalog and start doing some serious re-listening.

For more information, check out http://www.blueoystercult.com

"A Long Day's Night" (Sanctuary/CMC International; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

If you've ever seen them live, then you know that Blue Oyster Cult is one terrific band in concert. Not only is BOC one talented bunch of musicians, their music seems to be written to be performed live. Their music is given new life in a concert hall and it really must be seen (and heard, of course). 

That being said, "A Long Day's Night" is only a partially satisfying live CD. Hey, I gave it three chainsaws out of four so it's not that it's bad. It's just that perhaps we expected something a little different.

The performance captured herein (at Navy Pier/Skyline Stage in Chicago, IL) is strong enough, although - at first listen or so - it does seem to lack some of the charisma of earlier live BOC albums. Subsequent listenings, however, seem to indicate that perhaps it's just a maturation of the band's sound. Or perhaps it's the lack of a visual medium (the band on stage) that lessens the impact.

More than anything, however, it's probably the track selection that costs "A Long Day's Night" some of its oomph. Of the 13 tracks hereon, six are songs that we've heard many times before and that have appeared on previous live BOC records. They're the classics, but how many times can you re-record the classics? (Those six songs are "Burning For You," "Buck's Boogie," "Harvest Moon," "Cities on Flame," "Godzilla" and "Don't Fear the Reaper.") This is a Catch 22, of course. The other question is how can you have a live Blue Oyster Cult CD without the above songs?

The other seven tracks include some real rarities, including "Stairway to the Stars," "Quicklime Girl," "Perfect Water" and "Lips in the Hills." "Dance on Stilts" also appears, from the band's recent "Curse of the Hidden Mirror" CD. And, although it's interesting to hear those songs live, it would have been nice to hear something a little heavier, like "See You in Black" from "Heaven Forbid."

But enough about my misgivings. The bottom line is that this is still a very good CD, with a legendary veteran band proving that they're still in action and still at the top of their game. If only it could have been two discs - then it would have been a great CD.

Blue Oyster Cult: Eric Bloom - vocals, guitars, keyboards; Allen Lanier - keyboards, guitars; Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser - guitars, vocals; Danny Miranda - bass, vocals; Bobby Rondinelli - drums, percussion. 

For more information, check out http://www.blueoystercult.com

"Curse of the Hidden Mirror" (CMC International; 2001)

Reviewed by Snidermann

It's a good thing when Blue Oyster Cult puts out a new studio release. Their latest, "Curse Of The Hidden Mirror," is yet another truly awesome CD, full of the heart and rock solidity that has made them a household name for several decades. How does this band find the time to record quality music when they're on the road 300 days a year? I don't know and I don't care as long as the studio releases are as good as this. In fact, maybe it's that time on stage that makes their songwriting and recorded performances so damn good.

Blue Oyster Cult's music in the 2000s is in many ways the same as it was in the 1970s - hard rocking, blues-oriented and just damn strong. This band's storytelling ability is a major plus - each tune on "Hidden Mirror" is like a mini movie with plot, story line, characters and grand finale all rolled up in about 3 minutes. It's nearly impossible to listen to just a few tracks without going through the entire CD.

As for musicianship - few bands compare. BOC is a band of masters and, once again, their work shines on "Hidden Mirror."

Bands come and go but Blue Oyster Cult is always there and, as long as they continue to tour with their great shows and put out CDs as good as "Curse of the Hidden Mirror," their impressive fan base (including myself!) will be there to support them.

BLUE OYSTER CULT is: Eric Bloom - vocals, guitars and keyboards; Buck Dharma - vocals, guitars and keyboards; Allen Lanier - guitars and keyboards; Danny Miranda - bass, vocals and keyboards; Bobby Rondinelli - drums. Also appearing are Norman DelTufo on percussion and George Cintron - backing vocals.

Check out BOC online at http://www.blueoystercult.com

boc.jpg (13052 bytes)"Heaven Forbid" (CMC International; 1998)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Blue Oyster Cult, aka BOC, supergroup of 70's and 80's, gave us such immortal tunes of the as "Don't Fear the Reaper," "Joan Crawford Has Risen from the Grave" "I'm Burning For You," "Godzilla" and many others - but what have they given us lately?

First, let me back up about 15 years and say that I first saw BOC in the early 1980s in a little outside venue in northern Michigan (Aldo Nova opened for them, remember him?). I am thrilled to say they rocked my world in a big way then and I have been hooked on BOC since. I have seen them two or three times here in town at the Ventura Theater and each time I saw them, it was magic; pure and simple magic.

These are a handful of guys who have two things in common: the love of rocking hard and the thrill of performing live and what a sight it is to see. The energy from the band fueled the crowd and was returned to the band in a musical tornado that is hard to forget and always highly anticipated. 

As a matter of fact, I was the one that turned our esteemed editor R. Scott Bolton onto BOC live, just ask him. (Editor's note: It's true: Although I'd long been a BOC listener, Snidermann convinced me I hadn't heard anything until I'd heard the band live - he was right). Happily, BOC recently returned to the New Ventura Theatre on August 27th but that's another story (read it).

Now, finally, on to the new stuff. Yes, I said new stuff. It's been seven years since BOC released a studio album but now, "Heaven Forbid" is in stores. All the old fans are going to go nuts for this CD and a lot of new fans will discover the band because of it. The rock'n'roll wizards at CMC International have released "Heaven Forbid," a collection of the dark, slightly twisted, off-kilter rock tunes that made us love BOC for the past 20 years. Rough Edge's own Lou Moreau has said that "Heaven Forbid" is "nothing new," and that's just what we love about it. If you expect something else, do not buy this recording. However, if you were ever a fan of BOC, I highly recommend this CD. They write and record the way that made them megastars, so why change?

Songs like "See You in Black" and the hit "Harvest Moon" rock hard the way BOC always has and it's just what the doctor ordered. BLUE OYSTER CULT knows it, CMC International knows it, and now, happily, I know it and I want all the BOC fans worldwide to sit up and take notice: BOC is back with a very hot CD and a new tour. 

BLUE OYSTER CULT is: Eric Bloom, guitar, keyboard and vocals; Buck Dharma, guitar keyboard and vocals; Allen Lanier, guitar and keyboards; Danny Miranda, bass and vocals; Chuck Burgi, drums and vocals; Jon Rogers, bass and vocals. Bobby Rondinelli also performs drums.

"Career of Evil: The Metal Years" (Columbia; 1990)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I'd seen this particular CD floating around the used record bins and only thought about picking it up because the songs contained hereon were already in my collection via a number of other BOC CDs. Finally, I was desperate for something to listen to on a long business drive, found a copy for $7.99, and snagged it.

I was a little disappointed to discover that, of the 13 tracks on the CD, eight were live versions, from the "On Your Feet or On Your Knees," "Extraterrestrial Live" and "Some Enchanted Evening" CDs. Not that I dislike those albums; it can even be argued that Blue Oyster Cult is better live. It's just that nowhere on the outside of this CD does it say anything about live recordings. I was expecting a studio collection and that's not what this CD is.

There are five songs that are studio versions and, for some bizarre reason, they're all lumped together in the middle (tracks #7 - 11) which further confuses things.

Sequencing and misleading labels aside, at least the song selection is pretty good. The classics are here ("Cities on Flame," "Godzilla," "(Don't Fear) The Reaper") and some rarer things as well: "Beat 'em Up," "ME 262" "7 Screaming Diz-Busters." And, with a running time of 75 minutes and a CD price at about $10 (and cassette at $3.99!), "Career of Evil" ain't all bad.

Check out BOC online at http://www.blueoystercult.com

"Fire of Unknown Origin" (Columbia; 1981)

Reviewed by Snidermann

The 1981 release of Blue Oyster Cult's "Fire Of Unknown Origin" was an awakening of what real music should sound like in the age of hair bands and sickeningly sweet light rock. For people not familiar with BOC, this music is deep, dark and loaded with meaning. Best of all, BOC has not mellowed with age - just check out our review of their more recent releases. 

Let's look at some of the tunes on this release. The first cut, "Fire Of Unknown Origin," is a gut-wrenching portrayal of love and family lost. The next cut, "Burning For You," has become a favorite of FM radio and the band's live show and it simply rocks. It transcends both space and time to become one of the best all-time classic rock tunes ever. 

Now on to one of my favorite studio cuts ever: "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars." This song paints a science fiction picture through music that is as strong as Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land," L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth" Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" or R. Scott Bolton's "Killed By Death" (Editor's note: Okay, I admit I added the last one). The only difference is that BOC tells their story in a five minute cut. 

Bottom line: "Fire of Unknown Origin" is Blue Oyster Cult at their best and their best is something to behold.

Check out BOC online at http://www.blueoystercult.com

"Blue Oyster Cult" (Columbia; 1972)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Blue Oyster Cult's debut release came out in 1972. I have since seen the band live at least four or five times. They are just crazy good as a live band and should be witnessed live at all costs.

Outstanding storytelling ability, great guitar and deep (sometimes creepy) vocals were prevalent in the band's first recording. "Deep" and "Dark" are words I've used often to review Blue Oyster Cult on these pages, and those words fit this debut release as well.

This self-titled release is a showcase on just what the band was about, not only musically, but emotionally. The album moves with a style and grace that any Cult fan would recognize immedately.

Looking at it in hindsight, all the tools were there in 1972 to make BOC one of the most honored and respected rock'n'roll bands. It even gets better the more you listen to it. After one spin through I was ready to give this recording just two guitarsaws. By the fourth time through, I bumped it up to three-and-a-half. That tells you something, doesn't it?

Check out BOC online at http://www.blueoystercult.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to RoughEdge.comm omeome

Copyright 2020 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.