BLUE ÖYSTER CULT — Imaginos

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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Imaginos cover
3.78 | 20 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1988

Tracklist

1. I Am The One You Warned Me Of (5:05)
2. Les Invisibles (5:34)
3. In The Presence Of Another World (6:28)
4. Del Rio's Song (5:36)
5. The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Weisseria (6:46)
6. Astronomy (6:54)
7. Magna Of Illusion (5:58)
8. Blue Öyster Cult (7:18)
9. Imaginos (5:46)

Total Time 55:29

Line-up/Musicians

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

About this release

July 1988
Columbia

Thanks to cannon, Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates

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BLUE ÖYSTER CULT IMAGINOS reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

AtomicCrimsonRush
Name one BOC song - The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Weisseria.... or something like that.

'Imaginos' is one of Blue Oyster's Cult's more accomplished albums following the blazing start of their first 3 albums. It begins with some powerhouse rock on 'I Am The One You Warned Me Of' which is an astonishing tour de force for Dharma's lead break finesse, and there are killer riffs throughout. It is definitely a key track for the band on this album setting the tone for the heaviness to come. 'Les Invisibles' follows, riffing along nicely, with very cool vocals and tons of searing melodic passages. 'In The Presence Of Another World' is acoustically driven at first and then launches into a brilliant heavy guitar riff. It is an incredible track building on a solid structure falling between metal and AOR, with calming acoustic vibrations and ear melting distorted riffs. The extended coda is absolutely wonderful and sets this song above the others.

'Del Rio's Song' has a huge drum tempo, heavy guitar, and pleasant vox. It sounds very bluesy, and tends to grow with a melodic hook. The lyrics are a weak point here but the smoking axes of Dharma and Bloom are irresistible.

'The Siege And Investiture Of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle At Weisseria' is really a great title to remember when quoting BOC tracks. The drums pound loudly and there is a spacey synth, balanced by a massive riff. The heavy vocals are very much like old school metal, in the year when metal was king; 1988. There is an insane piano run and the lead break harmonics are delightful. The tempo gets faster with a power metal riff, and then the lead killer axes mash your ears to pulp. The coda is bizarre with piano crashes, choirs, and all manner of time sigs.

'Astronomy' is a re-run of the track from 'Secret Treaties' and it is this version that appears on all the BOC compilations. The Pink Floyd style riff of Gilmour is striking. The lyrics begin 'the clock strikes 12' and we are well into a grand riff, with a wonderful melody. It has a radio friendliness to it but is such a cool melody. The lead break is glorious and there is a wall of sound that builds.

'Magna Of Illusion' has a pleasant chugging riff, with very good vox. The lead guitar is dynamic and there is an inventiveness to the structure featuring some grandiose narration. 'Blue 'yster Cult' is a moderate tempo softer track, with a great lead break. The AOR feel is prominent but it is cool to hear them sing, 'Blue Oyster Cult, we understand, we understand, we understand', though it is a bit repetitive after the first few times.

'Imaginos', the title track is pure rock, but not up to the standard of the other tracks. BOC set the bar so high it is obvious when a song just flops. This has a disco feel in a way and very dancy, so not a great one for this album, more like a fish out of water. The lead break is soaring but overall this is a blemish on an otherwise excellent album.

So at the end of this, I believe the album should rate quite highly among the other studio releases for BOC. It has enough on offer to appease the rock addicts, and is full of innovation, deserving at least 4 stars for the aforementioned reasons.
Warthur
With Blue Oyster Cult in the doldrums, manager Sandy Pearlman convinced them to stay together for just one more album in order to record his magnum opus - Imaginos, a concept album based on a horror story concept by Pearlman, which Pearlman had been workshopping with exiled original drummer Albert Bouchard for much of the mid-1980s.

In principle, this would have been an excellent idea... if they'd done it as a followup to Secret Treaties, when they were in their prime. (As a matter of fact, Secret Treaties consisted of ancillary material surrounding the Imaginos legend, so that'd have been a neat way to follow it up.)

As it stands, the version of Imaginos we got is in effect Blue Oyster Cult's equivalent of Music From the Elder by Kiss. Both are concept albums which were intended to be the first part of a trilogy. Both had their running order screwed around with and flow much better when you resequence the tracks back the way they're supposed to be. Both involve lots of session musicians and only questionably involve the actual bands they are attributed to at all. Both have wild horror-fantasy-SF plotlines.

The big difference is that Kiss were truly unsuited to this sort of project, whereas at least Blue Oyster Cult's usual style fitted the endeavour. The best way to enjoy Imaginos is to not get too hung up with it sounding like Blue Oyster Cult or involving Blue Oyster Cult musicians, and instead taking it for what it is: Sandy Pearlman having a wild old time turfing out some banging hard rock numbers in the studio with session musicians and whichever combination of Blue Oyster Cult members (and ex-members in the case of Bouchard) were willing to talk to each other that day.

Members reviews

Raff
Just before “Imaginos” was released, the mighty Blue Oyster Cult had been in disarray, a shadow of their former powerful selves. With the departure of some key members, the spark seemed gone forever – as witnessed by their previous, rather lacklustre release, 1986’s “Club Ninja”, held by many as their weakest recording effort. However, the completion of this 20-year-long project (originally conceived by drummer Albert Bouchard and mastermind Sandy Pearlman) brought the original members of the band together for what was destined to be their last really great album (in some ways, even their masterpiece), and certainly one of their most progressive offerings.

The very elaborate concept behind “Imaginos” was at least partly inspired by HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, and crafted in order to provide an ‘alternative’ explanation for the onset of World War One. The titular character is a ‘modified child’ with supernatural abilities, whose story is told (though not in order) in the nine songs on the album, and foreshadowed on two songs featured on the “Secret Treaties” album – “Subhuman” and “Astronomy”. Both are present on the album, the latter with a different musical arrangement (in my view inferior to the original, and way too ‘Eighties’ for my tastes), the former rewritten as “Blue Oyster Cult”.

Such an intriguing, grandiose concept needed to be implemented accordingly. Therefore, the five members of the band brought on board a number of other musicians, including the ‘Guitar Orchestra of the State of Imaginos’, an impressive array of lead guitarists that included The Doors’ Robbie Krieger (who had already guested on BOC’s “ET Live”), and six-string wizard Joe Satriani. The result is a rich, majestic sound that fits the storyline like a glove, immediately noticeable from the first strains of opener “I Am the One You Warned Me Of,” which sets things off with a bang. In comparison to the somewhat limp-wristed nature of the band’s previous two albums, “The Revolution by Night” and “Club Ninja”, there is an exhilarating sense of energy to be felt here. Even the poppier items, like the sax-driven title-track (which closes the album on a somewhat cheerful note, in spite of the rather disturbing lyrics), or the even more upbeat “Del Rio’s Song” (possibly the album’s weakest link) seem to barge in with a sort of assertiveness approached by none of the compositions appearing on the above-mentioned albums.

Vocalist Eric Bloom – one of the most distinctive (and underrated) voices in rock – is at the top of his game, belting out the obscure lyrics with self-assured forcefulness. On the rousing “The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria", Bloom is flanked by guest singer Joey Cerisano – the song climaxes with a haunting chorus of “World without end”, and Joe Satriani’s blistering solo contributes to making the song even more memorable. Buck Dharma’s gentler, more restrained voice does the honours on “Les Invisibles”, though the song itself is anything but reassuring, with its sinister synth effects and guitar work, and its insistent, almost obsessive repetition of the word ‘seven’; while “In the Presence of Another World” is a dark-hued mid-tempo, almost ballady at times, with a thundering, yet oddly catchy chorus stating that “Your master is a monster”.

The true highpoint of the album, however, comes towards the end, with the double whammy of “Magna of Illusion” and “Blue Oyster Cult”. The former, named after the mysterious obsidian mirror that Desdinova (the new name given to Imaginos by his rescuers, the human servants of ‘the Invisible Ones’) finds in a jungle in the Yucatan, and which, kept for twenty years in his attic, poisons the minds of European leaders before the outbreak of WWI, is a triumphal, keyboard- and guitar-laden march related from the point of view of the protagonist’s granddaughter. “Blue Oyster Cult”, on the other hand, is as creepily addictive as its earlier version, “Subhuman”, with an anthemic close celebrating the occult nature of the band’s name as originally conceived by Sandy Pearlman.

BOC are also known for the often outstanding cover artwork of their albums, and “Imaginos” is no exception – the über-Gothic Victorian mansion poised on a cliff on the background of a stormy sky aptly conveying the sense of mystery and menace implicit in the whole story. It is a pity the lyrics have not been included in the CD reissue, though they can be found on the band’s website. At any rate, this is an album of epic proportions that, despite its ‘Eighties-style’ production (rather evident, for instance, in the drum sound), will appeal to both hard rock and progressive rock fans. Although not quite as perfect as “Tyranny and Mutation” or “Secret Treaties”, it is nonetheless deserving of a very solid 4.5-star rating.

Ratings only

  • ian
  • Atreju
  • Seven Moons
  • Citizen
  • joe2m
  • Lynx33
  • fisciletti
  • yair010390
  • acefrehleylead
  • Zargus
  • ultmetal
  • bratus
  • ollischr
  • Tlön
  • mr.gonzoss
  • ZAPPOBONG
  • Hagbard Celine

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