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Agents of Fortune

Blue Öyster Cult

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Album Review

If ever there were a manifesto for 1970s rock, one that prefigured both the decadence of the decade's burgeoning heavy metal and prog rock excesses and the rage of punk rock, "This Ain't the Summer of Love," the opening track from Agents of Fortune, Blue Öyster Cult's fourth album, was it. The irony was that while the cut itself came down firmly on the hard rock side of the fence, most of the rest of the album didn't. Agents of Fortune was co-produced by longtime Cult record boss Sandy Pearlman, Murray Krugman, and newcomer David Lucas, and in addition, the band's lyric writing was being done internally with help from poet-cum-rocker Patti Smith (who also sings on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini"). Pearlman, a major contributor to the band's songwriting output, received a solitary credit while critic Richard Meltzer, whose words were prevalent on the Cult's previous outings, was absent. The album yielded the band's biggest single with "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," a multitextured, deeply melodic soft rock song with psychedelic overtones, written by guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser. The rest of the album is ambitious in that it all but tosses aside the Cult's proto-metal stance and instead recontextualizes their entire stance. It's still dark, mysterious, and creepy, and perhaps even more so, it's still rooted in rock posturing and excess, but gone is the nihilistic biker boogie in favor of a more tempered — indeed, nearly pop arena rock — sound that gave Allen Lanier's keyboards parity with Dharma's guitar roar, as evidenced by "E.T.I.," "Debbie Denise," and "True Confessions." This is not to say that the Cult abandoned their adrenaline rock sound entirely. Cuts like "Tattoo Vampire" and "Sinful Love" have plenty of feral wail in them. The 2001 remastered edition contains four bonus cuts: an early version of "Fire of Unknown Origin" and unreleased demo versions of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," "Sally," and "Dance the Night Away." Ultimately, Agents of Fortune is a solid record, albeit a startling one for fans of the band's earlier sound. It also sounds like one of restless inspiration, which is, in fact, what it turned out to be given the recordings that came after. It turned out to be the Cult's last consistent effort until they released Fire of Unknown Origin in 1981.

Customer Reviews

Don't fear the reaper

One of the greatest songs ever made
Legendary song

The World Is Your Öyster

Each song gets pulled out like fluffy white rabbits from a magician's hat. Don't Fear The Reaper obviously casts a huge shadow over this album (how could it otherwise?); but every track has its own bit of magic. There is such an enigmatic atmosphere running through this album. Feel it.

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Long Island, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Blue Öyster Cult was the thinking man's heavy metal group. Put together on a college campus by a couple of rock critics, it maintained a close relationship with a series of literary figures (often in the fields of science fiction and horror), including Eric Von Lustbader, Patti Smith, Michael Moorcock, and Stephen King, while turning out some of the more listenable metal music of the early and mid-'70s. The band that became Blue Öyster Cult was organized in 1967 at Stony Brook College on Long Island...
Full bio