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Album Review

Blue Öyster Cult scored big with Agents of Fortune and its now-classic rock hit, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." It took the album into the stratosphere and the band's profile with it; it put them in the visible pop space they'd tried for years to get to. But upon arrival, they found that kind of success difficult to respond to. Not only did the Cult want to respond, they wanted to cement their place. Spectres is not the masterpiece that Agents of Fortune is, but it didn't need to be. However, upon hearing Spectres again, the album offers proof that the commercial and creative bent of Agents of Fortune was still in place at certain moments, and the band laid out a major single in the opening cut, "Godzilla," a tune — however silly it may be — that is every bit as memorable as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." It's not the only big number here either: "Goin' Through the Motions" and the truly spooky "I Love the Night" by Buck Dharma also scored. The former track is a wonderful blend of Tommy James & the Shondells, Boston, and Mott the Hoople's roots rock glam attack. Written by Eric Bloom and Ian Hunter, it's a stunning single. It sounds less like the Cult than anything they'd recorded, but as a classic rock & roll single it succeeds in spades. And "I Love the Night" (with its guitar part resembling "Reaper" for a moment) is one of rock & roll's truly strange and seductive love songs. There is more spook and darkness here, of course, in the album's closer, "Nosferatu." As a closer, "I Love the Night" may have been a better choice, but this track has all those layered harmonies, a reverbed piano, Dharma's power chords, and lyric fills that never lose their sense of menace and once more, a story. BOC were the only band in their league, walking the line between AOR rock and metal, and offering such detailed narratives. Spectres also contains tunes that were ready-made for touring, which is what the Cult did immediately after, resulting in the wildly successful live album Some Enchanted Evening. In sum, the only reason Spectres is not regarded as a classic is because it followed Agents of Fortune. Other than the false funk of "Searchin' for Celine," it's flawless as a finely tuned tome that begins with sci-fi humor and ends with gothic horror — all of which can be hummed to. [The Legacy edition of Spectres includes four previously unreleased bonus demos recorded during the album sessions. The hip thing is that these bonus cuts are really worth it and not add-ons from the dead-dogs file: the rocker "Dial M for Murder," the would-be single "Night Flyer," Albert Bouchard's "Please Hold," and a fun (and raw) cover of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby."]

Customer Reviews

Revisiting album I initially bought when it was firsts released back in 1977 as a 23 year old!!!

Hasn't diminished it time. Whilst not as ground breaking as Agents of Fortune this was an admirable follow up with plenty of good tunes and impeccable guitar playing.

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