Follow TV Tropes


Music / Blue Öyster Cult

Go To
I've got a fever, and the only prescription... is more cowbell! (From left to right; Jules Radino, Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, the late Allen Lanier, Richie Castellano.)

All our times have come
Here but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
We can be like they are...
— "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"

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 ümlaut over the "O") and released their self-titled debut 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.

BÖC 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, BÖC 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. Meanwhile, it's lead single "Burnin' for You" reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and #40 on the Hot 100 overall. Its music video was a staple of MTV's early years, and helped to establish the format as both a viable means of promoting music and an artistic statement in its own right. Albert Bouchard left the band midway through the album's supporting tour.

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 for the 19 years between 2001's Curse of the Hidden Mirror and 2020's The Symbol Remains. 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. Long-standing manager and band associate Sandy Pearlman, who was responsible for forming and naming the group, and production work on early LP's, as well as naming Buck Dharma and contributing most of the Imaginos cycle of lyrics, died in July 2016.

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 (including "Don't Fear the Reaper")
  • Richie Castellano: Keyboards, guitar, bass, lead vocals on various songs
  • Danny Miranda: Bass guitar
  • Jules Radino: Drums, percussion

Former members:

  • Chuck Burgi: Drums
  • Albert Bouchard: Drums, lead vocals on various songs
  • Joe Bouchard: Bass, lead vocals on various songs
  • Les Braunstein: Lead vocals
  • Rick Downey: Drums
  • Allen Lanier (1946-2013): Keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
  • Kasim Sulton: Bass
  • Al Pitrelli: Guitar
  • Bobby Rondinelli: Drums
  • Jon Rogers: Bass, 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.
  • Gene Frenkle (1950-2000): Cowbell (No, not really.) note 

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. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)".
  • Spectres (1977): "Godzilla", "R.U. Ready 2 Rock".
  • Mirrors (1979): "Dr. Music", "In Thee".
  • Cultösaurus Erectus (1980): "Black Blade", "The Marshall Plan".
  • Fire of Unknown Origin (1981): "Burnin' For You", "Veteran of the Psychic Wars", "Joan Crawford".
  • The Revölution by Night (1983): "Take Me Away", "Shooting Shark".
  • Club Ninja (1986): "Dancin' In The Ruins", "Perfect Water".
  • Imaginos (1988): "Astronomy", "Blue Öyster Cult".
  • Cult Classic (1994) (Re-recordings of the group's concert standards).
  • Heaven Forbid (1998): "Harvest Moon", "See You In Black".
  • Curse of the Hidden Mirror (2001): "Pocket", "Dance On Stilts".
  • The Symbol Remains (2020): "That Was Me", "Box In My Head", "Tainted Blood", "Florida Man", "The Alchemist".
  • Ghost Stories (to be released April 2024). Previously unreleased original material plus cover versions such as "Roadhouse Blues" and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"

Live albums:

  • On Your Feet or On Your Knees (1975)
  • Some Enchanted Evening (1978)
  • Extraterrestrial Live (1982)
  • Live 1976 (European import, 1994)
  • A Long Day's Night (2002)

"I'm troping, I'm troping, I'm troping for you":

  • Album Title Drop: The album Agents of Fortune is named after a lyric from the included song "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)".
  • Alien Geometries: The LP sleeves for Blue Öyster Cult and Tyranny and Mutation depict scenes which appear to be inspired by the artwork of M.C. Escher and Bridget Riley.
  • 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.
  • Audience Participation Song: Live performances "Dominance and Submission" would feature Al Bouchard and the audience calling the title of the song back and forth at each other.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Joe Bouchard wrote a lot of songs about vampires.
    • Much of the lyrics, as well as the band's name, are inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Big Applesauce: The band are mainly from, and based in, New York City.
  • Big Rock Ending: "The Red and The Black" is a notable inversion, containing a big rock beginning.
  • Bloody Smile: Joan Crawford presents a very loose interpretation of Mommie Dearest, the biography of the daughter of Joan Crawford. One among a sequence of nightmare images shows Joan Crawford's boyfriend mobbed by schoolgirls, who overpower and kill him; one of the girls smiles at the camera, revealing vampire teeth and a mouth full of blood.
  • 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 BÖC fan), selling bootleg BÖC merchandise.
    • Fun fact: originally all the Blue Öyster Cult references in the movie were going to be references to The Who. The Who 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.
    • Original drummer Albert Bouchard pops up halfway through the video for "That Was Me" banging away on the cowbell.
  • Canon Discontinuity: As a result of being critical and commercial failures, The Revölution 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. note 
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The narrators of "Career of Evil" and "That Was Me".
  • Catchphrase: "On your feet...or on your knees! From New York City—the amazing BLUE ÖYSTER 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 shenanigans, aided and abetted by Allen Lanier looking extremely seedy.
    • "Unknown Tongues" (off Cultösaurus Erectus), in which a devout Catholic schoolgirl called Margaret explores glossolalia and the mysteries of the holy Stigmata. (i.e., 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 cliché of the opening bars of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" from Machine Head. 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.
  • City Shout Outs:
    • "Atlanta, Georgia!", "Poughkeepsie, New York!"
    • Their live cover version of The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" was recorded in Newcastle, England: Homage to the hometown of Eric Burdon and Alan Price, and a City Shout-Out by inference.
    • In their live cover of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues", Eric Bloom namechecks Los Angeles, causing a huge roar from the crowd.
  • Concept Album:
    • Imaginos.
    • And the whole thing was supposed to be an attempt at a Concept Band.
  • Continuity Nod: Some of the fossils on the Cultösaurus 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" from Five Live Yardbirds and the Steppenwolf classic "Born to Be Wild", 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" from Morrison Hotel by The Doors, with Robbie Krieger himself guesting on guitar.
    • St. Cecilia, the group's originally unreleased album as the Stalk-Forrest Group, included a cover of Bobby Freeman's "Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes".
    • Ghost Stories, due to be released in April 2024, will carry remastered versions of the band's cover songs, including "Roadhouse Blues" and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place"

  • Deal with the Devil: The live version of "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" includes an interlude where Eric Bloom describes how a slick-looking man in a shark-skin suit gave him a contract to sign in blood, and the very next day CBS Records called him up to offer the band a record deal.
    • Note: that was the live version that appears as a bonus track on the remastered Tyranny and Mutation CD. This wasn't on the live version of the original live album On Your Feet Or On Your Knees.
  • Death Seeker: "Tainted Blood" from The Symbol Remains is about a vampire who wants to die after having lost his also-vampire lover of 200 years to the eponymous tainted blood. What makes it worse for him is that it was their tradition to let the woman have first taste on whoever they fed on.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Again, "Tainted Blood."
  • Domestic Abuse: "See You In Black" is about a man who is in love with a woman who is married to an abusive husband. The narrator wants to "see [the wife] in black" (become a widow) so she will finally be free.
    The wind plucks your black lace gown
    You’re standin’ proudly beside his grave
    I see you wearing black
    Gently smiling and oh so brave
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: The trope namer.
  • Dragon Lady: Their song provides the page quote.
  • Drugs Can Be Bad For Your Health: "Then Came the Last Days of May", "Tenderloin", "Hungry Boys".
  • 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 the Agents of Fortune track "The Revenge of Vera Gemini".
  • Dying Candle: Don't Fear the Reaper, where the last verse heralding the arrival of Death has the lines:
    The door burst open, and a wind appeared;
    The candle blew and then dissappeared;
    The curtains flew and then He appeared,
    Saying "Don't be afraid"
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: St. Cecilia is almost straight country music with some hard rock influences. Blue Öyster 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", "Redeemed" and "Train True (Lenny's Song)".
  • Eldritch Abomination: A favorite topic of the group, found in "Les Invisibles", "Harvest Moon", "The Old Gods Return", and numerous other songs.
  • Eldritch Location: The Four Winds Bar from "Astronomy", which exists "behind the clock" (outside time), and can not be found on a map. It's the "nexus of the crisis" and "origin of storms". Its bizarre physical proportions are described, with some doors barred and others only letting people in. Susie and Carrie find themselves at the bar despite the lack of directions, and come face to face with Desdinova.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • "7 Screaming Diz Busters" (7:00) on Tyranny and Mutation.
    • "Astronomy" (6:47) on Secret Treaties
    • "The Vigil" (6:25) on Mirrors
    • "Black Blade" (6:34) on Cultosaurus Erectus
    • "Shooting Shark" (7:09) on The Revölution by Night
    • "Madness to the Method" (7:25) on Club Ninja
    • "In the Presence of Another World" (6:26), "The Siege" (6:43), and "Blue Öyster Cult" (7:18) on Imaginos.
    • 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.
  • Evil Laugh: Stormbringer at the end of "Black Blade".
    • Live performances of "Flaming Telepaths" would incorporate an echoing, maniacal laughter amidst the final repetition of "And the joke's on you!", as heard on the Keep Your Eyes On The Road live album.
  • 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.
  • Eye Scream: At least three examples:
    • "Harvester of Eyes" is about a Serial Killer who collects the eyes of his victims.
    • "Hot Rails to Hell" has the line "the heat from below can burn your eyes out".
    • "Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll":
      Three thousand guitars, they seem to cry
      My ears will melt, and then my eyes
  • Facial Horror: Featured in the album cover of Heaven Forbid.
  • Gas Station of Doom: Referenced in the video of "Take Me Away", where the young couple in the car get the first inkling something is not right; the band logo of the hooked cross painted on the petrol station wall is as big a clue as the sinister proprietor.
  • 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.
  • Great Balls of Fire!: The BÖC pioneered the use of lasers onstage to enhance a performance. This was in 1975, some years before MTV, in an age where most groups stuck to music only. The band's laser equipment was cumbersome and frequently unreliable, but when it worked, it was spectacular. It even provoked a Congressional investigation into how safe lasers were as a form of entertainment.
  • Greatest Hits Album: 1998's Blue Öyster Cult: Super Hits.
    • The earlier, 2-CD Workshop of the Telescopes compilation.
    • Cult Classic is an unusual example; rather than just collecting the group's best songs, they went back into the studio and re-recorded them from scratch.
  • Heavy Meta: "Cities on Flame with Rock & Roll", "R. U. Ready 2 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.
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: The Trope Maker, and possibly the Ur-Example.
  • Heavy Mithril: Michael Moorcock wrote several songs for the group in the early '80s, including "Black Blade", a heavy metal summary of The Elric Saga.
    • 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.
      We made a vow to give it all we had to give
      We made a vow to die as we had lived
    • "X-Ray Eyes" is based on X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, and name-drops Ray Milland in the lyrics.
    • "Nosferatu" summarizes the plot of the classic silent film of that name.
    • "The Alchemist" is a retelling of H. P. Lovecraft's short fantasy story of the same name.
    • "Godzilla" is about Godzilla rampaging through Tokyo.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Imaginos/Desdinova from Imaginos.
  • 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.
    • Also, Buck's final "she don't caaaaaaaaaaaaaare" at the end of "Teen Archer".
  • Infernal Fugitives: While "Seven Screaming Dizbusters" suffers from Word Salad Lyrics, a theme emerges of seven renegade angels who fell with Satan and later decided they were not going to serve him either. Lucifer is hunting them down to punish them for their second rebellion.
  • I Kiss Your Foot: A sardonic (probably) example in "She's as Beautiful as a Foot".
  • 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 a jamming instrumental which appeared on the live album On Your Feet or On Your Knees.
  • Ironic Echo: The band's collaboration with Patti Smith, "The Revenge of Vera Gemini", is built around the ironic echo; Patti Smith's lines, coming in slightly behind Albert Bouchard's, are sardonic echoes that subtly twist the meaning.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The children's music box tune 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 out 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...
  • Kaiju: Take a wild guess...
  • Last Note Nightmare: The very faint, edge-of-hearing, last spoken line of "Black Blade".
  • Listeners Are Geniuses: Piecing together the Myth Arc (see below) requires paying attention to the subtlest allusions in the lyrics.
    • Sandy Pearlman actually described them as "The thinking man's heavy metal band."
      • A lot of people called them that. This reputation is why they were critical darlings at a time when if a critic referred to any other band as playing heavy metal, it was intended as an insult.
  • Lead Drummer: Albert Bouchard was the band's most prolific songwriter during his time with the band.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: Lead guitarist Buck Dharma shares lead vocals with Eric Bloom and Albert Bouchard (when Albert was still in the band).
  • Long Runner: These guys have managed to last long enough well into the Turn of the Millennium, with a new album out in 2020 and even then, they continue to do tours and concerts even today. That's pretty impressive for a band that started in the early 70s.
  • Long Runner Lineup: Type 2; Eric, Buck, Allen and the Bouchard brothers stayed together from 1971 to 1981, when Albert left.
  • Looped Lyrics:
    • "Seven seven seven seven" ad nauseam on "Les Invisibles" from Imaginos.
    • "Carpe diem" in the background of "The Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria" from Imaginos. The same song loops "world without end" throughout most of the last two or three minutes.
    • Also the repetition of the line "Lucifer the light" at the end of 7 Screaming Diz-Busters—this line repeats thirty-two times in succession.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Doctor Music, your partner in the dance of death.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The fancy "Ö".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Harvester of Eyes", a bouncy, cheery song about...well, someone/something that kills people and takes their eyes. Sandy Pearlman claimed he came up with the idea after hearing Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas talk about his ocular tuberculosis during his confirmation hearings.
    • 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 (Quicklime Girl)" 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.
    • "Fallen Angel" and "Burning For You" sound like love songs. They aren't.
    • 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."
  • Motorcycle on the Coast Road: Feel The Thunder, Shadow of California.
  • The Muse / Muse Abuse: The recurring character "Susie" that appears in a number of songs is reputedly based on manager and lyricist Sandy Pearlman's girlfriend from college. "Dominance and Submission" and "Astronomy" are allegedly inspired by an incestuous sexual encounter and her lesbian experimentation, respectively. The character reappears in "The Marshall Plan" (not written by Pearlman) as an unfaithful girlfriend.
  • 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.
    • The track "The Machine" off of 2020's The Symbol Remains treats smartphones as this.
  • 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 Cultösaurus 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.
  • No Ending: Employed on "Flaming Telepaths"
    and the joke's on you...and the joke's on you...and the joke's on you...and the jo—
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Dominance and Submission".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "Tattoo Vampire," "I Love the Night," "Tainted Blood".
  • Only in Florida: "Florida Man" is a tribute to the weirdness of Florida, noting the state's drug problems and scary wildlife particularly. The song posits that the whole state was cursed by natives, and anyone who moves there will in time become a Florida Man.
  • Perspective Flip: "Transmaniacon MC" tells the story of the infamous Altamont Free Concert from the perspective of the Hell's Angels. Workshop of the Telescopes the rise of modern of science from the point-of-view of an astrologer (whose discipline was discredited); "ME 262" is about the end of World War II as perceived by a German fighter ace; and "Joan Crawford" is partially Mommie Dearest as perceived by a zombified incarnation of the title actress. "The Alchemist" retells H. P. Lovecraft's short story of the same name from the alchemist's point of view.
  • Protest Song: "Divine Wind", a song attacking Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis.
  • 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?
  • Religion Rant Song: "Divine Wind" is a pop at militant extremist Islam.
    • "Unknown Tongues" is a slap at religious mania, the Catholic sort especially.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Shiny Toy Guns did a cover of "Burnin' For You" for a commercial for the 2010 Lincoln MKS.
  • Rhyming with Itself:
    • The final verse of the otherwise sublime "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" does this...
      Came the last night of sadness, and it was clear she couldn't go on;
      And the door burst open and a wind appeared
      The candle blew and then disappeared
      The curtains flew and then He appeared
      (Sayin', "Don't be afraid")
    • "Joan Crawford":
      Catholic schoolgirls have thrown away their mascara
      They've chained themselves to the axles of big Mack trucks
      The sky is filled with hurt and shivering angels
      The fat lady lives, children, start your trucks
  • Rock Opera: Imaginos, a fragment of the above Myth Arc, tells the story of a 19th-century adventurer imbued with magic powers by aliens, and whose efforts prove to be the cause of World War I.
  • Rock Star Song: "The Marshall Plan".
  • Self-Titled Album: Their debut.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The opening of "Burnin' For You" is an allusion to the lyrics at the beginning of Part Four, Chapter 2 of Jack Kerouac's On the Road.
    • Both "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" and "The Old Gods Return" refer to the Cthulhu Mythos. "E.T.I." also refers to Mythos precursor The King in Yellow.
    • "Godzilla", of course.
    • The song "The Revenge of Vera Gemini" namechecks Patti Smith's Horses album.
    • It also inspired the whole "Vera Gemini" story arc in Marvel Comics' The Defenders, published some years after the song.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Nearly all of Secret Treaties.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: "Eyes On Fire":
    At the stroke of midnight, staring at the phone'
    For the millionth time I'm all alone
    I'm the guy she turns to, when her lovers leave
    I'm the wild card she's got up her sleeve
    But she don't look at me with
    Eyes on fire, glowing like coals in the night
    Hungry eyes, burning with love and desire...
  • Soprano and Gravel: It's much more obvious in live shows, but the dynamic is certainly there. Dharma's softer, more mellow voice contrasts with the rough, bluesy, and aggressive vocals of Eric Bloom. When they were in the band, the Bouchard brothers were in-between the two, with Joe being on the Soprano side, and Albert on the Gravel.
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: Stormbringer, the Black Blade.
  • Stage Names: Sandy Pearlman envisioned the band having stage names and wrote some up, but Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser was the only taker.
  • Stop and Go: "Career of Evil".
  • Subdued Section: Several of their songs have this- "Career of Evil" and 'The Vigil are two notable examples. "Career of Evil" has a LONG, jam-like one in the middle, while "The Vigil" has one just before its guitar solo that's more-or-less a repeat of the intro.
  • Talking Weapon: "Black Blade".
  • That's All, Folks!: "Shooting Shark" ends with, "Fourth time round's the last time round; There's nothing else to say."
  • Tick Tock Tune: "Astronomy" is a subtle example, with the steady drum bit throughout the song simulating the ticking of a clock, a recurring motif in the lyrics.
  • Together in Death: "(Don't Fear) The Reaper".
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The setting of "Harvest Moon", which is about a small town whose first European settlers burned their colony to the ground for some reason and where children routinely disappear in the winter only to show up dead in the spring.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: The band's style, lyrical content and perceived 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 BÖC 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.
    • The Hawkwind comparison was raised again during the middle-to-late part of The '80s, when it was remarked that the BÖC had managed to go through five or six drummers in a very short period of time.
  • 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; symbolic of emotional and physical abuse: this visual image conveys exactly the mood of the Trauma Swing using a different analogy.
  • Villain Protagonist / Villain Song:
    • The setup for "Then Came the 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.
    • The Secret Treaties album is about evil, mostly from the point of view of evil people. "Career of Evil", "Harvester of Eyes" and "Cagey Cretins" are about characters reveling in their villainy, "ME 262" is about a German fighter pilot reflecting on the near defeat of Germany at the end of WW2, "Flaming Telepaths" is about the victim of mind control experiments having a traumatic Freak Out, "Subhuman" and "Astronomy" are sung by the archvillain Desdinova of the band's Myth Arc. "Dominance and Submission" stands out as being (mostly?) from the point of view of a victim of rape.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The first lyric of "Astronomy", which is then echoed halfway through.
  • Winds Are Ghosts: "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" mentions the wind blowing strongly when The Grim Reaper comes for a woman.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Lots of them. Especially prominent in the early albums, when producer Sandy Perlman wrote a good chunk of the lyrics. "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll", "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" (right down to the title), "Teen Archer", "Subhuman", "Flaming Telepaths" and "Astronomy" stand as some of the highlights.
    Four doors at the Four Winds Bar
    Two doors locked and windows barred
    One door to let to take you in
    The other one just mirrors it
    Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
    Hellish glare and inference
    The other one's a duplicate
    The Queenly flux, eternal light
    Or the light that never warms