Monday, June 02, 2008

Blue Oyster Cult – Secret Treaties

Probably my favorite BOC album is this, their third outing. I think this was the first thing I heard by these cats, just before they broke with “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and Agents of Fortune.

This album opens with another BOC patented catchy-as-hell, half-step riff and obscure lyrics in “Career of Evil”. This sounds pretty damn perverse with lines like “I want your wife to be mine”, “I choose to steal what you choose to show”, “you’re mine for the taking” and “I’d like to do it to your daughter on a dirt road”! Whew! Great song, though!

“Subhuman” is a bit more keyboard dominated and a little slower, but still dark sounding with some more terrific Buck Dharma guitar parts. They band picks up the pace again with “Dominance and Submission” – yes, this is a pretty twisted album! This rocks fiercely with intricate harmony guitar lines and the call and answer of “dominance” /”submission”/”radios appear” (where Radio Birdman got their album title) is a pretty genius touch. The ending builds to a wild climax of intensity and lead guitars! Excellent!
And then they take off with the even wilder “ME 262”! This is ultra-high-energy, super-sonic r’n’r with lyrics about aerial dog fights in World War II, complete with bomb-dropping and siren sound effects!

“Cagey Cretins” is only slightly less intense, but still has guitars flying right & left as singer Bloom wails “it’s so lonely in the state of Maine”! This segues directly into “Harvester of Eyes”, which cuts back slightly on the speed, and has another choppy lick, somewhat reminiscent of “OD’d on Live Itself”. Utterly bizarre lyrics, even for these cats – it sounds almost like a serial killer keeping the eyeballs of his victim for souvenirs, though I couldn’t say for sure that is the case! This cuts into a half-time dirge that then blends into some music-box melody before blasting into “Flaming Telepaths”.

Again, I’m not going to claim to know the minds of the songwriters, but this seems to be about drug abuse (because of the line “I opened my veins to many times” and “poisons in my bloodstream”). It’s also a moody, mid-tempo, synth-driven number with a truly memorable melody.

The album closer was the ballady “Astromony”, a mellower piece of work that none-the-less does build at the end to a rhythmic rocker with shouted “heys!” in all of the right places before the rousing “astronomy, the stars” finale.

The CD release contains no less than 5 bonus tracks and these are some of the best of the bonuses on any of the reissues.

The first is “Boorman the Chauffer”, an album outtake that would certainly have fit in anywhere in the record, sound-wise. A little more musically wacky than the rest of the tunes, it is another uptempo number with cool guitar/keyboard interaction and vocal harmonies.

“Mommy” is twisted musically and lyrically and maybe even somewhat misogynist but is another cool rocker, even with the weird time changes. “Mes Dames Sarat” is yet another fast r’n’r number – this may be their most speed-driven album ever! More fine use of dynamics and rhythms and, of course, great playing by everyone!

BOC covered Steppenwolf’s classic, “Born to be Wild”, fairly traditionally on the live On Your Feet or On Your Knees album, but this studio version (the b-side to the single of “Career of Evil”) is a complete re-working. The main lick is turned inside-out and the song is slowed down to a menacing, pounding pace. Truly original and truly superb!

The CD closes with the single version of “Career…”. This seems to be the album instrumental track with a new vocal. Interesting to hear the slight differences!

Overall, one of the best from the “thinking man’s heavy metal” band!