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Blue Oeyster Cult - Spectres (1977) Retail CD
I've always struggled with this BOC album, the follow up to their mega-selling Agents Of Fortune, but time has mellowed my view and now I find a lot to commend it. Stylistically Spectres shares many aspects of it's predecessor in that BOC were not afraid to experiment with their sound to achieve a varied and diverse listening experience away from the standard rawk licks of their contemporaries. This means Spectres has a great blend of heavy rock, classic 60's style pop, and stellar ballads, but all retaining that slightly twisted and macabre atmosphere that truly defines them as a band.
The dumbmore… cartoon rock present on some early BOC albums reaches its' zenith here with the opener Godzilla, a tale of a cartoon character itself that is gloriously silly but rescued by a killer hard rock riff that the Cult were specialists in. After a baroque choral opening that seems spectacularly at odds with the preceding track Golden Age of Leather delivers more hard riffing but with interesting changes in tempo and structure that raise it above the average three chord headbang as it celebrates the bygone days of the motorbiking rocker. It's still heavy but with a real class and poise that sustains it for 5 whole thrilling minutes before the Newark Boys Choir sing us out with a choral finale - strangely the choir works really well, it's a humourous little experiment that lets us know that BOC, for all their extraordinary virtuosity and rocking credentials, always had a wry humour at their heart they were not afraid to play around with. The tasteful Death Valley Nights features wonderful piano from the criminally underrated Alan Lanier that recalls the ghostly atmospheres of earlier work like Astronomy before building to a harmonised chorus and peerless guitar from the great Donald Roeser - it's an exercise in how to construct a rock song from a slow intro into a great hook and melodic chorus then finishing with explosive guitar, all within 4 minutes, to produce a mini epic that would have wowed the pop charts the world over in there was any justice in the world. Searching for Celine is a real departure for BOC as it models itself on similar funky chords to Stevie Wonder's Superstition before careering off into an obtuse middle and what feels like a tacked on guitar ending, it doesn't really work for me but at least BOC are trying something new. The 60's feel of the wonderful Fireworks with its' close harmonies and simple pop melody proves yet again that BOC were beginning to master the 3 minute pop single format but with their customary gothic schlock horror sensibilities it still has a vampiric flavour of classic sitcoms like the Addams Family or the Munsters - the line "Fireworks coming out of her head" is not your average boy-girl chorus now is it? Another mini epic Celestial The Queen with it's clever blend of synths, guitars and big open chorus provides another melodic pop moment, as too the handclapping Goin' Through The Motions which sounds like a Beach Boys outtake but has a killer solo from Roeser that few others could pull off with such economy. R U Ready to Rock is another standard rocker that was a live opener for many years and although the mini (prog) symphony of Nosferatu could well be the first ever "Goth" song its' AOR melody sounds cheesey and its' complex arrangement rather muddled - more Count Duckula than Dracula - but it does still have some sterling guitar from Roeser who is always worth a listen. The album's finest moment is the deliciously atmospheric I Love The Night, a Roeser penned ballad of exquisite beauty and sinister subtlety with just a hint of necrophilia (this is still BOC after all!!) Captivating, beguiling and with stunning guitar it's one of the highpoints in BOC's career.
The three average/unsuccessful tracks keep Spectres from getting 5 stars and although fans of the band's earlier gonzoid rock may cringe at some of the pop experimentation it makes perfect sense alongside Agents of Fortune and shows BOC had evolved into more chart friendly waters but still retained their "cult" appeal. If you're a fan of classic rock check out BOC's Secret Treaties rather than this but if you like virtuoso classic 70's pop with a quirky twist few do it better than BOC.
- Blue Oeyster Cult - Spectres (1977) Retail CD
- 1397 x 1398 px
- 666 KB
- 31 (0 today)
- 11/08/10 by stsk
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