January 20, 2020

Is there anyone out there who has never heard of Blue Öyster Cult? Good, I thought not! I always considered them to be one of the very few American serious contenders to the British heavy rock bands of the ’70s and they truly deserve to be the heavyweights in the rock world that they are. They even have one of the greatest radio friendly records of all time in Don’t Fear The Reaper (the unedited version, of course) and they have rarely disappointed in their long and illustrious career.

This re-issue of Cult Classics comes re-mastered and with new artwork and any ‘new’ BÖC release is to be appreciated. Cult Classics was originally released in 1994 which was 6 years after Imaginos and 4 years before Heaven Forbids when the band consisted of the big three of Eric Bloom on lead vocals/stun guitar/keyboards, Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser on lead guitar/vocals/keyboards and Allen Lanier on keyboards/rhythm guitar/ backing vocals with Jon Rogers on bass/backing vocals and Chuck Burgi on drums/backing vocals.

Effectively, it was seen almost as a ‘best of’ as it featured killer tracks from their history but they were all newly recorded by the new line-up so the versions are different with some to a lesser and some to a greater degree. The jury on these seems divided as there are those who do not believe in messing with the classics but it is always nice to hear a new or different version of a song that you have grown up with. Remember also that the band had not recorded any new material for 6 year so this was, in effect, a new album for them. The tracks are probably what you would expect in Don’t Fear The Reaper, E.T.I. (Extraterrestrial Intelligence), M.E. 262, This Ain’t The Summer Of Love, Burning For You, O.D.’D On Life Itself, Flaming Telepaths Godzilla, Astronomy, Cities On Flame With Rock ‘N’ Roll, Harvester Of Eyes and Buck’s Boogie and if that set list doesn’t excite then you are most probably dead already! In many respects, this can almost be viewed as a studio/live album as BÖC come alive on the stage and the different interpretations have most probably grown out of exposure in the live environment, check out the extended Astronomy to see what I mean. The album closes with two extra tracks, Don’t Fear The Reaper (TV Mix) and Godzilla (TV Mix) both of which are effectively minus vocals, neither of which are nothing more than curiosities but make for interesting listening all the same and you cannot help but supply the missing vocals yourself.

The album was released around the same time as the film version of Stephen King’s The Stand and this featured Don’t Fear The Reaper on its very chilling opening shots and all publicity is therefore good publicity. The production throughout is crisp and clean with their usual stunning guitar work very forward in the mix making this a more than valid addition to the BÖC catalogue. Buy and savour these classic cuts from a truly inspirational band.