Blue Öyster Cult – 40th Anniversary, Agents Of Fortune: Live 2016 CD
Frontiers Music srl
Release Date: 06/03/2020
Running Time: 35:02
Review by Paul Monkhouse
Few bands have been as well loved and influential as New York titans Blue Öyster Cult, their constant aim to push their own musical boundaries seeing them leading the pack for over fifty years. Originally forming in 1967 under the moniker Soft White Underbelly, it wasn’t until they changed their name in 1971 that things really took off and their seminal fourth album “Agents Of Fortune” was a game changer in 1976 and featured one of the all-time rock classics ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’. Returning to the album forty years later, the band decided to play it in its entirety and captured one of these sparkling performances at Hollywood almost exactly four years ago.
Following the running order of the original album, ‘This Ain’t the Summer of Love’ comes first, all heavy psychedelic rock that is sprinkled with the sort of dark, shock glam rock that was Alice Cooper’s stock in trade. More melodic than previous releases, the album at the time was seen as a more polished move from their heavy roots but there is so much to enjoy, and the songwriting stands up as well today as it always has. ‘True Confession’ adds a real rock ‘n’ roll feel, the guitarwork peeling off some of the sort of riffs that caught the imagination from that golden era. This idea of playing all these tracks live, giving them a new shine is most noticeable on the next track, but then ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ is so familiar to everyone over the years that any slight changes are magnified. Giving it a new coat of paint and shorn of the studio trappings, it sounds cleaner than ever, the vocals and guitars particularly fresh sounding and the fretwork at the end really stands out.
Another favourite, ‘E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)’ sounds as heavy as it always has, shining as one of the most powerful songs the band penned, the guitars of Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, Eric Bloom and Richie Castellano work together to huge effect. Also, the vocals of the long-time Roeser and Bloom are also outstanding, providing the sort of sweet colour to offset the heaviness in this, the second of a mighty one / two punch of album highlights. ‘The Revenge of Vera Gemini’ and ‘Sinful Love’ are prime examples of the sort of great 70’s material they were writing and it’s a joy to hear them, reflecting just why this album made its way into the homes of so many over the years. More sinister and hard-edged vibes appear in the form of the delightfully dark and fun ‘Vampire Tattoo’, the commercial sounding ‘Morning Final’ rolls magnificently and ‘Tenderloin’ echoes more psychedelia in a spacey but tightly controlled feast for the ears. It’s just left for ‘Debbie Denise’ to round things off and the track is a rollicking and majestic epic, full of the fire and class that is a Blue Öyster Cult trademark.
With a guest appearance from founding member Albert Bouchard, the band, along with rhythm section bass guitarist Kasim Sulton and drummer Jules Radino, have produced something that is not just a great celebration of a superb album but also a timely reminder of just how good they are. ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’ may have been the peak of their worldwide fame but there is a hugely rich treasure trove of gold standard rock songs to discover if you’ve not scratched any deeper than that monster hit. With a new album penciled for release this year, there’s no better time to get acquainted with New York’s finest and “40th Anniversary, Agents Of Fortune: Live 2016” is a perfect entry point.
This is also available as a DVD/Blu-Ray.
01. This Ain’t The Summer Of Love
02. True Confessions
03. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
04. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
05. The Revenge Of Vera Gemini
06. Sinful Love
07. Tattoo Vampire
08. Morning Final
10. Debbie Denise
Eric Bloom – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser – Guitar, Vocals
Richie Castellano – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Jules Radino – Drums, Percussion
Kasim Sulton – Bass, Vocals
Special Guest: Albert Bouchard – Guitar, Vocals
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