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4.02 | 43 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1972


1. Transmaniacon MC (3:21)
2. I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep (3:10)
3. Then Came The Last Days Of May (3:30)
4. Stairway To The Stars (3:43)
5. Before The Kiss, A Redcap (4:59)
6. Screams (3:09)
7. She's As Beautiful As A Foot (2:57)
8. Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll (4:03)
9. Workshop Of The Telescopes (4:01)
10. Redeemed (3:52)

Total Time 49:41


- Eric Bloom / guitars, vocals
- Donald Roeser / guitars, vocals
- Allen Lanier / guitars, keyboards, bass
- Joe Bouchard / bass, vocals
- Albert Bouchard / drums, vocals

About this release

16 January 1972

Reissued in 2001 with the following bonus tracks:

11. Donovan's Monkey (demo) (3:49)
12. What Is Quicksand (demo) (3:39)
13. A Fact About Sneakers (demo) (2:50)
14. Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes (demo) (2:33)

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
BLUE OYSTER CULT has its roots originating all the way back to 1967 when founder and guitarist Donald Roeser who would become better known as Buck Dharma started the first version of what would become BOC in the form of the psych-tinged jam band Soft White Underbelly which was centered around Dharma’s guitar playing and would provide a BLUEprint for the mystical CULT to come. The band went through a few changes before finding its own voice. It would take singer Eric Bloom to replace the original frontman before the band started to cohesively gel around the more boogie rock blues based hard rock sounds they have become known for. At this stage the band took the moniker Stalk-Forrest Group and was discovered by rock theorist Sandy Pearlman who was always on the look out for sharp new talent for Elektra Records. After a brief stint in California and a short trip down a dead end street, the band that would become the BLUE OYSTER CULT came to fruition when keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Allen Lanier joined the team. It was he who contributed the band’s more famous moniker that simulated the mystical occult demeanor that they were striving for.

After the failed California adventure, the BOC headed back to its native New York City where they spent 1971 fine-tuning a more heavy handed rock approach that kept a tad of the 60s psychedelia but according to Dharma the band was trying to become America’s answer to Black Sabbath and while BOC could never even remotely be accused of ripping off the classic English band’s style or sound in any possible way, BOC did however evoke a sense of awe with an interesting mix of occult philosophies, surrealism and heaviness that was rooted in a twin guitar dominated bluesy hard rock with some progressive touches along with an occasional slice of avant-garde. The band’s self-titled debut album appeared early in January 1972 after being discovered by Columbia Records and while not exactly lighting the world on fire quite yet found enough support that many tours arose albeit with the unlikely parings of The Byrds and Mahavishnu Orchestra. Only the tour with Alice Cooper actually seemed like a legit fit but nevertheless with a strong batch of catchy tunes amplified and soaked in acid baths, BLUE OYSTER CULT hit hard from the getgo and continued to expand its new stylistic approach.

Having latched onto a unique sound fairly early, BLUE OYSTER CULT found the perfect balance between a more demented form of bluesy boogie rock as if a parallel universe version of a more psych-tinged Allman Brothers had seeped into our reality during the Montauk Project. Equally laced with a trippy guitar twang and the Godzilla power stomps that would define the BOC’s rhythmic delivery, this eponymous debut cemented the band’s later success in its nascent BLUEprints for future hits. “Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll” provided the first glimpse of the monster stomp guitar and drum rhythmic prowess that would later spawn such hits as “Godzilla” whereas “Screams” provided that haunting occult feel that took the twangy guitar sounds, a bit of psychedelic keyboard charm and super catchy vocal melodies that would pave the way for tracks like “Burning For You” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Likewise Dharma showcased a rather eccentric psych-fueled blues guitar soloing style that is as distinctive as anything Jimmy Page, Brian May or Tony Iommi were cranking out on the other side of the pond.

BLUE OYSTER CULT’s debut is a masterful mix of diverse sounds that the band made all their own. The heavy hitters of the bunch such as the two openers “Transmaniacon MC” and “I’m On The Lambe But I Ain’t No Sheep” displayed the knack for capturing a traditional style of hard rock but adding heavy doses of surreality to the lyrics as well as the changes that took place within the individual tracks. Perhaps the most diverse is the rowdy heavy rock “Before The Kiss, A Redcap” which starts out somewhat like something the Edgar Winter Band were famous for in the early 70s but the track shifts into a series of melodic deliveries including a ska-fueled toe-tapping section with early rapped vocals which adds some serious skank and alternates with heavy guitar heft outbursts. The so-called thinking man’s heavy metal band also graced the album with a few drug fueled slower trippy tracks. “Then Came The Last Days Of May,” “Screams” and the most oddly titled song of all time “She’s As Beautiful As A Foot” all showed a slowed down version of the band that focused as much on atmospheric as guitar based magic.

While “Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll” remains the album’s most famous track for its Zeppelin meets Sabbath guitar stomps that gave the band its signature sound, there are several heavy unsung classics on this album including “Stairway To The Stars” and “Workshop Of The Telescopes” along with the two openers. Really the only track that doesn’t sound like it fits in is the closing “Redeemed” which exhibits a rather odd sounding Grateful Dead style of country rock which as far as i’m concerned should’ve been nixed from the final mix as it sounds woefully out of place and could easily be inserted on Dead album’s like “American Beauty” and nobody would even notice. All in all, BOC cranked out a smokin’ hot slice of early hard rock of the early 70s. All the musicians perfectly played their parts and crafted their idiosyncrasies perfectly. The unique drumming style of Albert Bouchard perfectly suited the twin guitar wilderness provided by Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom while Bloom’s vocals suited this hybrid of psychedelic rock and hard blues based rock perfectly. Not even their best album but this debut is without a doubt one of the essential classic BOC albums to acquire and savor. While the album didn’t make BOC a household name at this point the album sold fairly well and allowed the band to delve further into the heavier side of their sound and would slowly jettison the more psychedelic touches or to be more precise diminish them.
The debut Blue Oyster Cult album leans more towards a hard rock approach than the proto-metal that would be unleashed on the next disc, but in terms of atmosphere it occupies a very similar place - murky, moody, with dark shadows and sinister goings-on just out of sight. Certainly, material like Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll, Workshop of the Telescopes and Stairway to the Stars with their brooding, slow, sinister guitar and sneering, mocking vocals are a great start, though I'm On the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep lacks power this time around and would return in a faster and punchier rendition as The Red and the Black on the next album. There's also a couple of slightly uncharacteristic songs on here which help vary things up a little - Redeemed is an unexpectedly sunny song for the band, whilst Then Came the Last Days of May is a blues-rock lament about a drug deal gone wrong with some beautiful, almost Clapton-like guitar work. On the whole, a fantastic start for the band.
For some reason BOC’s debut is my favourite album from them. Maybe it’s because it is the only album with some bite, maybe because it’s their most bluesy album and slightly touched by the hand of Evil? Or maybe it’s because I hear many elements that would be referred to by the grunge generation 20 years later. Still, I’d prefer Mother Love Bone any time to this.

The album starts nicely rocking and bluesy rolling with Transmaniacon MC and I’m On The Lamb, two soft and catchy tunes that might inspire to some rhythmic head nods. My preference here goes to sweet melancholic rock like Then Came The Last Days of May. I can almost hear Alice in Chains performing this. This is even more the case for Before The Kiss, A Redcap.

Screams is my favourite BOC track. It’s a tad eerie and sad, quite an a-typical song for them I assume. Love that piano bit. Also She’s as Beautiful as a Foot (did they want to win the ‘most goofy song titles contest’ of that year?) continues the gloomy mood and has some nice instrumental bits but the vocals come off slightly strained. Cities on Flames is probably their heaviest song. Given how soft it still is I always wondered why this band was ever considered as hard rock at all. The album ends with the slightly lesser tunes Workshop and Redeemed.

A pleasant album overall and probably quite an important one, just not consistent enough for me to rate more then 3.5 stars.

Members reviews

BOC's self-titled, debut album comes with a very stylish, black-and-white cover, slightly reminiscent of Escher's haunting visual creations. That, and the long, intriguingly cryptic song titles (not to mention the lyrical themes), should be proof enough that they are not your average, run-of-the-mill hard rock band. Though they sound nothing like the Birmingham behemoths, the nickname of 'American Black Sabbath' the band gained soon after their debut clearly shows they had something that set them apart from other American acts tackling the harder edge of the musical spectrum. Their sound, though firmly rooted in classic rock and blues, does possess a quality that is hard to define, and therefore makes them unique.

This album is obviously nowhere as accomplished as its follow-up, "Tyranny and Mutation", and especially the band's undisputed masterpiece, "Secret Treaties". However, even if not all the songs are equally memorable, there are a few gems to be found - diamonds in the rough, perhaps, but diamonds nonetheless.

Opener "Transmaniacon MC" introduces the listener to BOC's dark, twisted lyrical world (here referencing the notorious Altamont murder), as well to Eric Bloom's gruff, expressive vocal style, and the manic, supercharged guitar work of Donald Buck Dharma Roeser, one of the most criminally underrated axe slingers ever. "The Last Days of May" shows Roeser's more reflective, wistful side, his beautiful, bluesy solo enhancing the sad tale of an escape through the desert ended in death; while “Stairway to the Stars” boasts one of those memorable riffs the band have become famous for. The powerful mid-tempo of the anthemic "Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll)" sees more textbook riffing, as well as an iconically histrionic vocal performance by Bloom. Finally, "Workshop of the Telescopes" is a clear indication of the direction the band would take on later albums, especially as regards esoteric, sci-fi-influenced lyrical themes.

BOC has its share of quieter moments, in particular album closer "Redeemed", which could be referred to as an embryonic AOR song such as the ones to be found on the band's later output. However, the unifying feature of the album lies in the lyrics (mostly penned by unofficial member and mastermind Sandy Pearlman), which range from the visionary to the downright disturbing - as in the case of "Before the Kiss, A Redcap" or the weird, fetish-inspired "She's As Beautiful As a Foot". Behind the often apparently 'simple' musical structures, lies a dark, exotic, disquieting universe - like the black, starry sky depicted by the cover.

Though BOC’s debut cannot be called a masterpiece by any means, it is nevertheless a very solid offering by the celebrated purveyors of intelligent hard rock – as well as a rather tantalizing taste of things to come.
As debuts go, this one is pretty impressive. BÖC had a unique sound right from the outset, not really sounding derivative of bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and while there are a few missteps here (She's As Beautiful As A Foot), this remains one of their strongest albums after all these years. The band traverses a wide variety of sounds here, but they all link together with a sort of internal logic that keeps the album from meandering. From the blistering hard rock of "Cities On Flame," to the gentle beauty of "Then Came The Last Days of May" and the zany finale "Redeemed." Along with Secret Treaties, this is about as proggy as the band ever got. "Before The Kiss A Redcap" is a good example of this, and is the highlight of the album. In my opinion, all of BÖC's first three albums are worth picking up, especially if you're interested in the roots of heavy metal.

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