Blue Oyster Cult: Best-Ever Songs

The songs found on this list are, in my opinion, the best-ever songs by Blue Oyster Cult.

According to Wikipedia, Blue Öyster Cult (often abbreviated BÖC) is an American rock band from Long Island, New York. Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 1972, the band has sold over 24 million albums worldwide, including 7 million in the United
States alone.

The band originated as a group called Soft White Underbelly (a name the band would later occasionally use in the 1970s and 1980s to play small club gigs around the U.S.) in 1967 in the vicinity of Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, at the prompting of critic and manager Sandy Pearlman consisting of guitarist Buck Dharma, drummer Albert Bouchard, keyboardist Allen Lanier, singer Les Braunstein and bassist Andrew Winters. Pearlman wanted the group to be the American answer to Black Sabbath. Pearlman was very important to the band—he was able to get them gigs and recording contracts with Elektra and Columbia, and he provided them with his poetry for use as lyrics for many of their songs, including “Astronomy”.

Eric Bloom (formerly the band’s acoustic engineer) replaced Braunstein, and the band continued to perform as Soft White Underbelly. However, a bad review of a 1969 Fillmore East show caused Pearlman to change the name of the band – first to Oaxaca, then to the Stalk-Forrest Group. After a few more temporary band names, including the Santos Sisters, the band settled on Blue Öyster Cult in 1971.

Their debut album Blue Öyster Cult was released in January 1972, with a black and white cover designed by artist Bill Gawlik. The album sold well, and Blue Öyster Cult toured with artists such as The Byrds, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Alice Cooper.

Their next album, Tyranny and Mutation, released in 1973, was written while the band was on tour for their first LP.

The band’s third album, Secret Treaties (1974) received positive reviews. As a result of constant touring, the band was now capable of headlining arenas.

The band’s first live album On Your Feet or on Your Knees (1975) achieved greater success and went gold, and was followed up by their first platinum album, Agents of Fortune(1976). For the tour, the band added lasers to their light show, for which they became known.

The band then released another live album, Some Enchanted Evening (1978). Though it was intended as another double-live album in the vein of On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, Columbia insisted that it be edited down to single-album length. It became Blue Öyster Cult’s most popular album, eventually selling over 2 million copies.

The name “Blue Öyster Cult” came from a 1960s poem written by manager Sandy Pearlman. It was part of his “Imaginos” poetry, later used more extensively in their 1988 album Imaginos. Pearlman had also come up with the band’s earlier name, “Soft White Underbelly”, from a phrase used by Winston Churchill in describing Italy during World War II. In Pearlman’s poetry, the “Blue Oyster Cult” was a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth’s history. “Initially, the band was not happy with the name, but settled for it, and went to work preparing to record their first release…”

The hook-and-cross logo was designed by Bill Gawlik in January 1972, and appears on all of the band’s albums. In Greek mythology, “…the hook-and-cross symbol is that of Kronos (Cronus), the king of the Titans and father of Zeus…and is the alchemical symbol for lead (a heavy metal), one of the heaviest of metals.” Sandy Pearlman considered this, combined with the heavy and distorted guitar sound of the band and decided the description “heavy metal” would be aptly applied to Blue Öyster Cult’s musical sound. In Roman mythology, the hook-and-cross symbol represents Saturn, the God of agriculture and fertility. The hook and cross symbol also resembles the sickle, which is associated with both Kronos (Cronus) and Saturn (both the planet and the Roman God).

Criteria for this ranking:

• Groundbreaking

• Sing-able melody

• Memorable and catchy

• Superb singing, lyrics, guitar work

Best Songs

ETI

Burnin’ For You

Godzilla

Then Came the Last Days of May

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll

Hot Rails to Hell

Dominance and Submission

Astronomy

______________________________________________________________

I urge you to email me (dom@walkablestreets.com) or leave a comment if you have a suggested addition or subtraction from this list. Or if you have any other thoughts about this list.

About

Each list in this blog contains my own personal opinions based on my personal experiences. I acknowledge that there may be a need to add or subtract from these lists (or to create a new subject list), and I welcome such suggestions. The lists are not ordered from higher to lower quality. Each list is a work in progress.

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About Dom Nozzi

Urban designer, Complete Streets instructor, smart growth specialist, town planner, walkable & bikeable streets & trails specialist, writer, editor, speaker, world adventurer, skier, kayaker, SCUBA diver, bicyclist, hiker, dancer, book reader, urbanist. Make my own beer, wine, pasta, bread. Live by the motto that it is the things we do NOT do that we later regret. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.
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