Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

The iconic rock band Blue Öyster Cult releases its first full-length studio album in nineteen years.

Here is where I am coming from as far as Blue Öyster Cult goes. The first three albums are unassailable. As far as I am concerned, nothing serious can be said against them. After that, I have unpopular tastes with regard to the catalogue. Agents of Fortune (1976) is a classic, true, but I never really connected with Spectre (1977) or Mirrors (1979). I absolutely love the sequence of albums from the early 1980s: Cultosaurus Erectus (1980), Fire of Unknown Origin (1981), and The Revolution By Night (1983). Also Imaginos (1988) – an excellent reimagining. The other albums are good, and I listen to them still, but not as much as the ones on my list. Blue Öyster Cult has created a large catalogue of amazing music and some song or another of theirs is always in my rotation. They are one of my all-time favorite bands.

I’ve been waiting for The Symbol Remains anxiously, wanting new music I would really like to listen to. With so much great work that had come before, a reasonable person faces new music from a band that hasn’t put anything out in a long while with some trepidation. Like when Black Sabbath released 13 (2013). They had not released a full-length studio album as Black Sabbath for almost twenty years. I sweated that one, but 13 was excellent, and the band supported the album with a great tour. Fingers crossed, then, for the new Blue Öyster Cult. The band is Eric Bloom (vocals, guitar), Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (guitar), Richie Castellano (keys, guitar, vocals), Danny Miranda (bass), and Jules Radino (drums). With the two originals Bloom and Roeser, and the longtime bandmates Castellano, Miranda, and Radino, the lineup is rock solid.

The hour-long album starts with a banger, the single “That Was Me.” It has the kind of sound I was hoping for, from the crisp guitar work to the distinctive vocals. This is Blue Öyster Cult. The next two songs (also released as singles) show a tonally lighter side to the band, demonstrating their musicianship and compositional prowess. Throughout the album, their creativity is on display from the amazing guitar work on “Nightmare Epiphany” to the theatrical Danny Elfman-esque “Edge of the World.” “Florida Man” is a quiet song with a lyrical lead break and rich harmonies. “The Alchemist” is dark and heavy, pushing out heavy threatening riffs and a wicked fantasy narrative. “Secret Road” is a desert driving song that will make you see rattlesnakes in your sleep. The variety is intoxicating.

Having listened to The Symbol Remains three times in a row, I know now that I was wrong before – there was never anything to worry about. This is an excellent album. This is Rock and Roll. Highly recommended.

The new BÖC album is out now. You can listen on Spotify and buy on Amazon and other places. The important thing is to here it.

Band photos snagged from the official website.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Recorded live at The O2 (Indigo) in London during the Stone Free Festival on June 17, 2017, this concert is a complete retelling of the band’s first album, Blue Öyster Cult, plus a couple of extra favorites for the fans.

Blue Öyster Cult has been releasing notable live sets this year like Hard Rock Live in Cleveland 2014, iHeart Radio Theater N.Y.C. 2012,and 40th Anniversary Agents of Fortune Live 2016. Now the best of the bunch so far is out, a recording of the band playing their entire first album, 1972’s Blue Öyster Cult. That trilogy of the first three LPs BÖC released in rapid succession are absolute hard rock classics, the self-titled one first, then Tyranny and Mutation (1973), and finally the monstrous Secret Treaties (1974). After these seminal works, the band achieved enormous commercial success with Agents of Fortune (1976), and the music turned a little toward the pop direction. These early ones had the killer tracks that still raise the hairs on your neck like “Cities On Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails To Hell,” and pretty much every song on Secret Treaties. I have a particular affection for the 1972 original because of its stark originality so this new release was a hot grab for me.

I watched/listened to the Blu-ray version. The band is: originals Eric Bloom (since 1969) and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (since 1967), with Richie Castellano, Danny Miranda, and Jules Radino. The sound on the Blu Ray is excellent – you might remember, BÖC fans, that the recording of the original album was very muddy so this performance actually sounds better. The playing is crisp and sharp, and there is a lot more guitar on these versions than there was on the 1972 release, including an epic ten and a half minute version of “Then Came The Last Days Of May.” After the original ten songs, they played on with the “Buck’s Boogie” jam fans have come to expect from their live performances, the hits “Godzilla,” “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and “Hot Rails To Hell,” plus the surprise “Tattoo Vampire” – I didn’t see that one coming. It was a great show and I wish I had been there. I was REALLY looking forward to seeing BÖC at Psycho Las Vegas this year. Fingers crossed for 2021.

Available now from Frontiers Records, pick up whichever version you like best and don’t wait too long. The supply of these live albums from BÖC has been a little spotty this year. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, but it has essentially no extras except for a five minute green room video. Digital streaming is always there if you miss out on the physicals so there are no excuses – give it a listen and breathe in the cult.

Band photo snagged from the official website page.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Deep Purple, Whoosh! review (earMUSIC/Edel 2020)

New music from Deep Purple is always something to celebrate, and Whoosh! is the best new album from them since Purpendicular.

Let’s think about this for a second. I remember when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple – both times. It really seemed like that would be all she wrote, so to speak, and it was clearly a setback. But the band has released a ton of new, excellent material outside of Blackmore’s shadow. When Jon Lord left in 2002, I really thought that would be it for Deep Purple. He had stayed with the band for many years after Blackmore left and had been there up to the hiatus that began in 1976 and since reformation that occurred in 1994. And yet Deep Purple persevered.

The band has the same lineup this time as it has had since 2002 with Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey, and Steve Morse. The first three musicians are the most recognizable to Deep Purple fans because of their long tenure stretching back into the 1960s. But Don Airey has been with them since 2002 and Steve Morse has been there even longer, since 1994, so they have all been playing together for a good long while.

The band credits some of the success of the song writing and production to Bob Ezrin, a legend in the music industry. This is his third time working with Deep Purple. Whether it was Ezrin’s influence or whether the stars just all aligned right, Whoosh! is a great album.

The set opens with a jazzy little vamp at the front of “Throw My Bones,” Ian Gillan tells us “All I got is what I need / And that’s enough as far as I can see / Why should I walk into the Great Unknown / When I can sit here and throw my bones.” In fact, the message of this entire album is basically to lighten up, it all comes and goes so fast (that’s the “whoosh!”) that getting all wound up about things juts ruins the little bit of time that you do have. Gillan’s voice is in solid shape. It is not “Child In Time” or “Born Again” but it is most definitely Gillan – instantly recognizable. The production is full with extra helpings of keyboards at the right moments and crisp guitar enterprises at the appropriate peaks. There are plenty of memorable hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrical moments throughout. This is the high point for Mark VIII so far.

In interviews about the production of this new album, Deep Purple talks about how weird the world of music is right now and that they don’t have anything scheduled for another year. That’s a lot of time to do nothing, so maybe there’ll be another new album or at least some more new music before the next tour. I’d bet on just a couple songs because the material on this album needs be toured – I would hate to think that none of it ever gets played live because of even newer music that passes it by.

Whoosh! is out now and you can get it anywhere. There are lots of products related to this issue if you want something memorable. Recommended for Purple fans and anybody interested in the newest iteration of what was classic rock.

Band photo snagged from the official Facebook page.

Links.

https://www.deeppurple-whoosh.com/#start

https://www.deep-purple.com/

https://ear-music.shop/

Deep Purple, Whoosh! review (earMUSIC/Edel 2020)