Saturday, 5 November 2016

"Spectres" by BLUE OYSTER CULT (2001 Columbia/Legacy 'Expanded Edition' CD - Vic Anesini Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Ready 2 Rock..."

In October 1976 obscuro rockers BLUE OYSTER CULT found themselves with a big fat Rock hit on their hands with the perennial and Radio-friendly "(Don't Fear) The Reaper". Long Island's BOC and their now signature song sat proudly at No. 12 on the US singles charts - helping to push studio album number four "Agents Of Fortune" into Platinum Status and a peak position of 29 with a huge 35-week run on the LP charts. Time to follow that up – in steps 1977's "Spectres". And a smart move it was too...

A complimentary issue to the June 2001 'Blue Oyster Cult Collection' CD Reissue Series that covered their initial output (see list below) – this March 2007 'Expanded Edition' comes with a tasty new Vic Anesini CD Remaster, extra liner notes and Four Previously Unreleased tracks from the "Spectres" sessions. Here are the spectral and celestial details...

UK and US released March 2007 - "Spectres" by BLUE OYSTER CULT on Columbia/Legacy 82796964082 (Barcode 827969640821) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Four Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks/Session Outtakes and plays out as follows (53:37 minutes):

1. Godzilla
2. Golden Age Of Leather
3. Death Valley Nights
4. Searchin' For Celine
5. Fireworks
6. R. U. Ready 2 Rock [Side 2]
7. Celestial The Queen
8. Goin' Through The Motions
9. I Love The Night
10. Nosferatu
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 5th studio album (sixth overall) "Spectres" - released October 1977 in the USA on Columbia JC 35019 and January 1978 in the UK on CBS Records 86050. Produced by DAVID LUCAS, MURRAY KRUGMAN, SANDY PEARLMAN and BLUE OYSTER CULT – it peaked at No. 43 and No. 60 on the US and UK charts respectively.

11. Night Flyer
12. Dial M For Murder
13. Please Hold
14. Be My Baby
Tracks 11 to 14 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED outtakes from the "Spectres" sessions

ERIC BLOOM – Vocals and Guitar
JOE BOUCHARD - Bass, Vocals and Piano
DONALD (Buck Dharma) ROESER – Lead and Rhythm Guitars and Vocals
ALBERT BOUCHARD - Drums, Vocals and Harmonica
ALLEN LANIER – Keyboards and Guitar

The 8-page booklet has brief but informative liner notes by noted writer LENNY KAYE, some black and white band photos and the usual reissue credits. But the big news is a VIC ANESINI Remaster - a name associated with a huge range of Sony releases - Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Byrds, Nilsson, Mountain, The Jayhawks, Mott The Hoople and many more. The audio here is better than the album I had for years and even the four Bonus Tracks/Outtakes prove more than filler.

Smartly realising that more radio-friendly 'Reaper' type tunes were needed to continue their popularity - BOC stumped up the camp cock-rock of "Godzilla" and the witty "Golden Age Of Leather" and quickly elicited the derision of fans who loved their hard-rocking earlier stuff. Corny 'kiss from you' song or not - what you can't argue with is the Anesini Remaster that shines on the instrumentation of "Death Valley Nights" - BOC getting all in touch with feminine selves. "Searching For Celine" has that cool bass opening and it’s so clear now - as is the Side 1 finisher "Fireworks" - the closest thing they came to "Reaper" in terms of sound.

"R.U. Ready 2 Rock" gives us some big-mickey riffs complete with cheesy title. "...I'm out of my face...I'm out of my mind..." they sing on "Celestial The Queen" where they sound like a sappier version of Mott The Hoople. The synth and guitar opening of "Goin' Through The Motions" is clearer than any other version I've heard on CD before. Musically "I Love The Night" is probably the mellowest song on the album - treated guitars and layered vocals - lovely ladies helping our lovelorn singer feel better. "Nosferatu" features great guitar and keyboard work and is probably the most Prog tune on the record. The extras present a cover of The Ronettes classic "Be My Baby" and sought-after BOC rarities "Night Flyer" and "Dial M For Murder".

Musically Blue Oyster Cult have always been hard to put in a genre box and leave them there and I find a lot on this late Seventies album hard to like in 2016. But if you're a fan and have fond memories of them - this superb remaster is the one for you - cheeseball titles and all... 

BLUE OYSTER CULT titles available as June 2001 Columbia/Legacy 'Expanded Edition' CDs are:
1. Blue Oyster Cult (1972) – Columbia/Legacy 502234 2 (Barcode 5099750223420)
2. Tyranny And Mutation (1973) – Columbia/Legacy 502235 2 (Barcode 5099750223529)
3. Secret Treaties (1974) – Columbia/Legacy 502236 2 (Barcode 5099750223628)
4. Agents Of Fortune (1976) – Columbia/Legacy 502237 2 (Barcode 5099750223727)

March 2007 'Expanded Edition' Columbia/Legacy CD titles:
5. Spectres (1977) – Columbia/Legacy 82796964082 (Barcode 827969640821)

6. Some Enchanted Evening (1978) – Columbia/Legacy 82876752042 CD+DVD (Barcode 828767520421)

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