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Blue Öyster Cult is an American Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band. Their manager, Sandy Pearlman, formed the group as Soft White Underbelly in 1967. The group cut its teeth playing Country Music in biker bars before, at Pearlman's urging, their musical style shifted in a harder, psychedelic direction inspired by Black Sabbath. After some trials and tribulations, including the departure of lead singer Les Braunstein and his replacement with acoustic engineer Eric Bloom, the band eventually took the name Blue Öyster Cult (with a trope-making umlaut over the O) and released their self-titled album under Columbia Records in 1972. The original lineup consisted of lead singer/guitarist Eric Bloom, lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, guitarist/keyboardist Allen Lanier, and drummer Albert and bassist Joe Bouchard.BOC reached mainstream success in 1976, with the release of their first platinum album, Agents of Fortune, and its hit single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," followed by Spectres and the FM hit "Godzilla".In 1981, BOC recorded Fire of Unknown Origin. The band had written several songs on this platinum album for the upcoming animated film Heavy Metal, but the producers chose "Veteran of the Psychic Wars," which wasn't done with the movie in mind. Albert Bouchard left the band after Fire.Between 1985 and 1987, Allen Lanier and Joe Bouchard quit the band, leaving Eric Bloom and Don Roeser as the only original members. The band took 1987 off, Lanier returned, and they resumed touring with Jon Rogers and Ron Riddle. The band has released several studio albums since then, but none since 2001's Curse of the Hidden Mirror, and are now without a record deal. Their motto since the late '90s has been "On Tour Forever!", and they live up to it, continuously touring at fairs, clubs, festivals, casinos, and auditoriums across North America and Europe (often hitting the same venue more than once a year).Founder member Allen Lanier sadly died in August 2013 after a long illness, which had already necessitated his retirement. His last public appearance with the group was at the fortieth anniversary celebration in December 2012.Blue Öyster Cult's current lineup;
Eric Bloom: Lead vocals, "stun guitar" (his style of rhythm guitar), keyboards
Buck Dharma: Lead guitar, vocals on various songs
Richie Castellano: Keyboards, guitar, bass, Backup vocals, lead vocals on "Hot Rails to Hell"
Kasim Sulton: Bass guitar
Jules Radino: Drums, percussion
Chuck Burgi: Drums
Albert Bouchard: Drums, lead vocals on various songs
Joe Bouchard: Bass, lead vocals on various songs
Les Braunstein: Lead vocals
Allen Lanier (1946-2013): Keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
Danny Miranda: Bass
Al Pitrelli: Guitar
Bobby Rondinelli: Drums
Jon Rogers: Guitar, songwriting
Ron Riddle: Drums
Rudy Sarzo: Bass
Patti Smith: Vocals on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini", from Agents of Fortune. Has written or co-written many songs for the group.
Studio album discography, with notable songs;
St. Cecilia (1970, unreleased until 2001): "What Is Quicksand?", "Donovan's Monkey"
Blue Öyster Cult (1972): "Transmaniacon M.C.", "Cities On Flame With Rock & Roll"
Tyranny and Mutation (1973): "The Red and the Black", "Hot Rails To Hell", "Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)"
Secret Treaties (1974): "Dominance and Submission", "M.E. 262", "Astronomy"
Agents Of Fortune (1976): "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "This Ain't the Summer of Love", "E.T.I. (Extraterrestrial Intelligence)"
Spectres (1977): "Godzilla", "R.U. Ready 2 Rock"
Mirrors (1979): "Dr. Music", "In Thee"
Cultosaurus Erectus (1980): "Black Blade", "The Marshall Plan"
Anachronic Order: Imaginos is not presented according to the internal chronology of the album's storyline due to Executive Meddling. The album's story, which contains time travel, shapeshifting, the Cthulhu Mythos, and a number of other supernatural elements, would be confusing enough without the disjointed chronology; the meddling pushed it firmly into Mind Screw territory. A possible sequence of the album's events is presented under the Executive Meddling entry.
The Cameo: Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma make a cameo appearance at the end of The Stoned Age (a movie where one of the main characters was a hardcore BOC fan), selling bootleg BOC merchandise.
Fun fact: originally all the Blue Öyster Cult references in the movie were going to be references to The Who. The band refused to allow their names or music to be featured in the movie due to its content (teenagers getting drunk and having sex) so all Who references became Blue Öyster Cult references, complete with the ending cameo.
Canon Discontinuity: As a result of being critical and commercial failures, The Revolution By Night and Club Ninja (though "Perfect Water" still made it onto the group's 2002 live release A Long Day's Night.) Nothing from Imaginos EVER makes it into their live shows, though.
Catch Phrase: "On your feet... or on your knees! From New York City - the amazing BLUE OYSTER CULT!"
Catholic School Girls Rule : the otherwise impenetrable video for "Joan Crawford," in which quite a lot of the said Catholic Schoolgirls get up to shennanigans, aided and abetted by Allen Lanier looking extremely seedy. Also the track "Unknown Tongues" (off Cultosaurus Erectus), in which a devout Catholic schoolgirl called Margaret explores glossolalia and the mysteries of the holy Stigmata. (ie, the voices in her head tell her to self-harm with a razor blade).
Changed For The Video: The LP version of "The Marshall Plan" (about a hopeless dreamer with minimal musical talent trying to make it big) uses the heavy rock cliche of the opening bars of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." It also homages an American TV rock show and its presenter Don Kirschner. Strangely enough, the video version omits both these items; it has been suggested so as to avoid paying royalties. The story told in the video still just about makes sense, but is disjointed without the jokes implicit in a hopeless loser who can only think to rehash "SOTW" and who dreams of appearing on what is assumed to be a very cheesy, corny, mainstream TV show.
And the whole thing was supposed to be an attempt at a Concept Band.
Continuity Nod: Some of the fossils on the Cultosaurus Erectus cover are mentioned as having been found in Oaxaca and the Stalk Forrest, which are names of two early versions of the band.
Cover Version: several on the live albums; their choices of covers give a pretty good idea of who their main influences were. On Your Feet Or On Your Knees includes The Yardbirds' "I Ain't Got You", while Some Enchanted Evening features The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" and the MC5's "Kick Out The Jams", while Extraterrestrial Live features a cover of "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors, with Robbie Krieger himself guesting on guitar. "St. Cecilia", the group's unreleased album as the Stalk-Forrest Group, included a cover of Bobby Freeman's "Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes".
Dungeon Masters Girlfriend: Allen Lanier's girlfriend, Patti Smith (who later achieved fame as a solo artist) wrote several songs for the group's early albums and provided backing vocals on Agents of Fortune.
Early Installment Weirdness: St. Cecilia is almost straight country music with some hard rock influences. Blue Oyster Cult is closer to heavy metal, but still has strong country influences on several tracks, particularly "I'm on the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" and "Redeemed".
Eldritch Abomination: A favorite topic of the group, found in "Les Invisibles," "Harvest Moon," "The Old Gods Return," and numerous other songs.
The live On Your Feet or On Your Knees has extended versions of several songs. Live 1976 has a version of "Buck's Boogie" that exceeds nineteen minutes in length, and a version of "This Ain't the Summer of Love" (which was a case of Miniscule Rocking on the original album, being barely over two minutes) that extends to almost twelve.
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Morning Final on the Agents of Fortune album. The track ends on a paperboy calling the murder investigation in classic Extra! Extra! Read all about it! form.
Gratuitous Japanese: The intermission of "Godzilla" has a Japanese newscaster talking about the beast's rampage in Tokyo and alerting listeners to run for shelter immediately. During live shows, Eric Bloom recites this part.
Heavy Meta: Cities on Flame with Rock'n'Roll, R.U.Ready To Rock, "Before the Kiss, a Redcap", and The Marshall Plan (which includes a spoken word interlude by Don Kirschner). They also did a cover of Kick Out the Jams, and in a way Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver counts as well.
As mentioned above, much of Fire of Unknown Origin was written with the intent of being a soundtrack for the film Heavy Metal. The song "Vengeance (The Pact)" is explicitly based on Taarna's story.
"The Golden Age of Leather", an operatic piece about a gang of bikers who ride out into the desert and fight to the death after an all-night orgy and meth party, because they've realized they've grown too old to rock anymore.
"X-Ray Eyes" is based on the film "The Man With The X-Ray Eyes", and name-drops Ray Milland in the lyrics.
Iconic Logo: The band's "hooked cross" logo, which appears on all their album covers and most of their merchandise, derived from the alchemical symbol for Saturn. It's also the symbol for lead - a heavy metal.
Incredibly Long Note: Eric Bloom on the last syllable of "risen" in the live performance of Joan Crawford. As it's a live performance there's no wiggle room for post-production - what you hear is what he sang.
Ironic Echo: The band's collaboration with Patti Smith, Revenge of Vera Gemini is built around the ironic echo; Patti Smith's lines, coming in slightly behind Eric Bloom's, are sardonic echos that subtly twist the meaning.
Ironic Nursery Tune: the children's musical box deployed as a linking theme between tracks on Secret Treaties. Perhaps even the symbolism used in certain lyrics, such as the following from "Astronomy":-
Come Suzy dear, let's take a walk,
Just down there along the beach;
I know you'll soon be married,
And you'll want to know where winds come from...
The nature of the innocent Suzy's relationship with her older nurse Carrie has oft been speculated upon. Les Yay...
Instrumentals: Not on record, but a concert staple of the original lineup was a jam section where Lanier and Albert Bouchard would don guitars, resulting in a five-man guitar solo. This most commonly occurred during "ME 262", but also sometimes on "Golden Age of Leather" or a cover of The Doors' "The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)".
"Buck's Boogie" was an jamming instrumental which appeared on the live album On Your Feet or On Your Knees.
A common trope with this band, given that so many of their lyrics are dark, and often in a tongue-in-cheek way. "Hot Rails to Hell" is another good Exactly What It Says on the Tin example - an up-tempo tune with surf guitar riffs and peppy vocals... about riding a subway train into Damnation.
Also the Buck Dharma solo track "All Tied Up", a sweet ballad with Eagles-ish vocal harmonies. It turns out that the subject of the song is not tied up as in ''busy'', but as in Exactly What...oh, you know the drill by now.
"Mistress of the Salmon Salt" drops some very dark lyrics in a tone so casual that it sounds like a garden tour. Which it actually is, but regular gardens don't use the type of fertilizer that the narrator is freely referring to.
And of course "Golden Age of Leather" marries West Coast harmonies, surfer music and Beach Boys-style singing to the dark topic of old Hell's Angels going out with one last gang-bang of a ''wanton child, too dead to care, that each could find his pleasure as he might..." followed by a pitched battle to the death.
The Men in Black: Since so many of their songs are sci-fi oriented, this was bound to show up at least once. Most notable in the songs Take Me Away (even featured in its music video) and "E.T.I."
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most off their harder-rocking songs hover around the 5-6 range, with a few (VERY few) going up to a borderline 7. They have a number of lighter songs as well though- for example, "Don't Fear the Reaper" is a 3 or a 4 (the only "heavy" part is in the solo section).
The Muse: A whole cycle of songs are about, or feature, a girl called Suzie who appears to have had a potent effect on the songwriter's life. If Suzie was for real, then her depiction in The Marshall Plan as feckless groupie, or in Dominance and Submission as an accomplice to man-on-man rape, becomes an example of Muse Abuse.
Myth Arc: Most of their lyrics are part of a Lovecraftian Fiction-oriented mythology created by Sandy Pearlman, even those that don't appear to be at first glance.
The songs written for the band by Michael Moorcock draw on Moorcock's own Eternal Champion mythos, particularly The Elric Saga. the Champion Eternal might dovetail quite neatly into the Immortal Desdinova, though.
New Media Are Evil: The laser-light shows the band used in their late '70s shows were the subject of a Congressional hearing into the potential health hazards of lasers.
New Sound Album: Mirrors was almost pop-rock relative to the group's earlier albums, with the sentimental guitar ballad "In Thee" as its lead single, and the Cars-inspired "You're Not The One I Was Looking For". It didn't gel, and the band returned to heavy metal for Cultosaurus Erectus.
Mostly that's due to the production, though- get past that and two-thirds of the album still counts as Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. On the other hand, "Agents of Fortune" comes closer- more than half of the album can't be called either.
Protest Song: "Divine Wind", a song attacking Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis.
And it still worked for Bin Laden after 9/11.
Putting the Band Back Together: For the band's 40th anniversary show in November 2012, they brought back Albert and Joe Bouchard (left in 1981 and 1986 respectively), and Allen Lanier (left in 2007 due to health problems). This show ultimately ended up being the last ever performance of the original five members due to Allen's death in August 2013.
Patti Smith also rejoined the band for this gig. There is extant footage of her performing Career of Evil with the group.
Refuge in Audacity: There were so many hints of evil in their lyrics and Nazi images on their album covers that some writers began to suggest that they really were Nazis. This despite names like "Pearlman", "Bloom" and "Roeser" suggesting the sort of ethnicity that would be last to line up in support of the Nazis. Michael Moorcock describes them as a bunch of nice Jewish boys from upstate New York. You Have to Have Jews?
Trans Atlantic Equivalent: The band's style, lyrical content and preceived preoccupations were equated to those of Birmingham's most notorious Satanists, Black Sabbath. Aware that musical critics were directly comparing both bands, their managements bundled them together on a joint tour, dubbed The Black And Blue Tour. It was never repeated. After the BOC started to record Michael Moorcock songs, they attracted the label from British fans of America's Hawkwind. Indeed, the live version of the Moorcock-penned "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" has an eerie Hawkwind-like quality to it.
Trauma Swing: The video for Joan Crawford Has Risen From the Grave uses imagery derived from Christina Crawford's autobiography about living with her allegedly psychotic mother, Mommie Dearest. The video ends on a teenage girl playing the Christina role, sitting crying and despondent by the swimming pool; the scene is shot in muted washed-out light with autumn leaves swirling around and landing in the water, conveying the idea that summer is gone, it is cold, she is alone, innocence is dead and symbolic of emotional and physical abuse: this visual image conveys exactly the mood of the Trauma Swing using a different analogy.
Villain Protagonist: the setup for "Last Days of May" is a cross-border drug transaction, allegedly based on a true story.
The title character of "Dr. Music" is a sadist who gets off by torturing his unwilling captives.
"Showtime" is about a convict who's counting down the days until his release so he can hunt down and get revenge on his girlfriend who put him away and the man she's now with.