Album review: BLUE OYSTER CULT – Agents Of Fortune, 40th Anniversary

BLUE OYSTER CULT - Agents Of Fortune, 40th Anniversary

Frontiers [Release date 06.03.20] CD/DVD

As any fan knows, the key to a band’s longevity is an enduring ability to write great songs. That and the talent to leave more out than they put in.

Once they get into the studio of course, anything can happen. In 1976, all this came together on “Agents Of Fortune”, an album written and designed to be more accessible than its predecessors. It was the band’s breakout recording, led by ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’s charge into the best selling charts of the world (and eventually on to legendary status).

In 2016 in Hollywood – forty years on – the band performed the album live on stage in front of a small but appreciative audience, recorded for a DirectTV Special.

The live band comprised the original core duo of vocalist and lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, and vocalist and rhythm guitarist Eric Bloom. They are complemented by Richie Castellano on guitar and keyboards, and the longtime rhythm section comprised of bass guitarist Kasim Sulton, and drummer Jules Radino.

Notably, Sulton and Radino provide the rhythmic anchor for Roeser and Bloom to get way beyond clinical re-enactment, allowing them to find each song’s emotional pulse with flair and exactitude.

This performance underlines the notion that “Agents…” introduced great rock songs like ‘True Confessions’ and ‘ETI’ to the world’s stadiums. The original album’s mystery and menace gets teased out song by song, ‘Sinful Love’ and ‘Debbie Denise’ work particularly well on stage. But unsurprisingly, ‘Don’t Fear…’ remains the major showpiece for these rock survivalists, and of course, it’s great entertainment too.

The DVD underlines the no-expense-spared camerawork deployed at the gig. We see the band from multiple angles, multiple times. The director’s edit, a mix of design and spontaneity, illusory or otherwise, confirms the prevalent notion that you have to work really hard to make it seem this effortless.

Roll on the next milestone.  *****

Review by Brian McGown


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