Feature: Call Collect – An introduction to BLUE OYSTER CULT

Jason Ritchie picks out some of the key albums from the heavy metal masters

Formed from the late 60’s band Soft White Underbelly, Blue Oyster Cult (BOC) are often dubbed ‘the thinking man’s heavy metal band’.

But for me they are much more than that, taking in hard rock and even melodic rock, especially Buck Dharma who has an ear for a memorable pop melody (‘Pocket’ on ‘The Curse Of The Hidden Mirror’ album being a prime example). I have never quite taken to their earlier albums bar the excellent Secret Treaties album, their first ‘must have’ for me. However, for many BOC fans their early to mid-70s era is amongst their finest material.

1978′s Spectres with ‘Golden Age Of Leather’, the 60’s pop rocker ‘Fireworks’ and the awesome ‘Godzilla’, highlights the band’s depth of musical influences and styles

1980′s Cultosarus Erectus with the wicked ‘Lips In Hills’ and ‘Black Blade’, one of the co-writes with author Michael Moorcock, sees the band at their heaviest. There is also the rock ‘n’ roll tale ‘The Marshall Plan’.

Fire Of Unknown Origin (1981) is another must have with ‘Joan Crawford’ and ‘In Thee’. The latter still a live staple to this day, working well as an acoustic/crowd sing-a-long moment.

Amongst their finest albums for me are Revolution By Night (1983) and Imaginos (1988).’Revolution By Night’ includes the hard rocking ‘Take Me Away’, with Eric Bloom’s menacing vocals a highlight. Buck Dharma provided the vocals to epic ballad ‘Shooting Shark’, which briefly dented the UK top 100 singles chart.

‘Imaginos’ is more an Albert Bouchard solo record, who was still then the band’s drummer. The rest of BOC appear along with a host of guest and session players including Joe Satriani.

Their latest studio album to date is The Curse Of The Hidden Mirror, released in 2001 and it is their best since Imaginos.

For a decent starting place try the double CD compilation Workshop Of The Telescopes that covers the band’s CBS years nicely.

Eric Bloom & Buck Dharma keep the flame alive playing biker bars and hog roasts in the US plus regular UK & European tours.

Since 2008 we have still not had any new album from BOC and it looked very unlikely, however last year Frontiers signed the band up for a new studio album due later this year, plus a series of live releases and re-issues of their last two studio albums, along with the re-recorded best of Cult Classics.

On a side note if you ever see an album by Deadringer called ‘Electrocution Of The Heart’ grab it as it features BOC’s Buck Dharma plus ex-BOC bassist Joe Bouchard & ex-Alice Cooper Band members with Charlie Huhn on vocals. It is a classy piece of late 80s melodic hard rock.

Sadly keys/guitarist Allen Lanier passed away in 2013 although the classic 70’s line-up did manage to play a 40th anniversary show in 2012 in New York.

Joe and Albert Bouchard perform in Blue Coupe with Dennis Dunaway (ex-Alice Cooper/Deadringer) performing a mix of early BOC and Alice Cooper classics plus some of their own material. There is a very good interview with Dennis Dunaway here

Further reading

Album review (Agents of Fortune 40th anniversary, 2020)
Album review (Heaven Forbid, reissued 2020)

(i) (ii) Andy Nathan

2020 Vision - Rock. Reviewed. Revisited.

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 22 May.

Next session: Sunday 17 July.

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Power Plays w/c 27 June 2022 (Mon-Fri)
REVIVAL BLACK Broken Home (TMR Records)
FLOYA Epiphany (indie)
TWISTER Own Worst Enemy (indie)
MODERN MIMES Down And Dead (Curtain Call Records)
TUNGSTEN Northern Lights (Arising Empire)
THE GREAT LESLIE Feel Alive (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 27 June (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 GRACE Hope (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CLASSLESS ACT Welcome To the Show (Better Noise Music)
14:00-16:00 TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT Day By Day (indie)

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