Friday, July 1, 2016

Brownsville Station - 1973 - Yeah!

Brownsville Station

01. Question Of Temperature – 3:31
02. Lightnin’ Bar Blues – 2:52
03. Take It Or Leave It – 3:00
04. All Night Long – 2:55
05. Let Your Yeah Be Yeah – 3:37
06. Sweet Jane – 3:02
07. Love, Love, Love – 2:55
08. Go Out And Get Her – 2:56
09. Barefootin’ – 2:55
10. Smokin’ In The Boys Room – 2:57

- Cub Koda / Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
- Mike Lutz / Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
- Henry “H Bomb” Weck / Drums, vocals

Hailing from Ann Arbor, Brownsville Station’s third album lives up to its name with ten great songs. Eight covers, all given the treatment, and two originals — one of which sold two million copies. “Yeah!” is the quintessential “nice little record” — it won’t take up a lot of your time, and it’s got a very friendly vibe to it.

The cover songs span a wide variety of musical styles. From Hoyt Axton’s “Lightning Bar Blues” to then-unknown Jimmy Cliff’s “Let Your Yeah Be Yeah” to Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” the band pumps out all of its songs in a chugging, lighthearted manner that ends up being nothing but fun.

Lead vocals were previously the exclusive domain of bassist Michael Lutz, but Koda emerges as a singer as well; Lutz may have been the more prototypical rock singer, but it was Koda’s sleazy, nasal snarl that worked to perfection on the classic hit single “Smokin’ In the Boys Room.”

“Yeah!” is truly delightful

Brownsville Station - 1972 - A Night on the Town

Brownsville Station 
A Night on the Town

01. Rock With the Music - 03:22
02.  Got Mine - 02:46
03. Lovin' Lady Lee - 03:33
04. Mad for Me - 02:39
05. Mister Robert - 04:06
06. Wanted (Dead or Alive) - 03:28
07. Country Flavor - 04:27
08. Jonah's Here to Stay - 06:48
09. Leavin' Here - 03:04
10. The Man Who Wanted More (Saints Rock & Roll) - 02:13

Cub Koda - lead guitar,vocals,harmonica
Michael Lutz - lead vocals,guitar,kaeyboards
Tony Driggins - bass,vocal
David Henri Weck - drums

The 2nd lp. from Ann Arbors Brownsville Station is sadly underappreciated and overlooked. Coming off the pure adrenaline of No BS..the band settled down and stretched out a bit..and wrote some good originals. Wanted Dead Or Alive ranks as one of the best in their catalog..and the live stuff at the end gives a little idea of what went on onstage back then. Mr. Roberts...Country Flavor..Rock With The Music..all killer toons. Do yourself a favor and pick this's always been one of my favorites.

Brownsville Station - 1970 - No BS

Brownsville Station

01 Be-Bop Confidential 2:26
02 Guitar Train 2:05
03 Rockin' Robin 2:46
04 Blue Eyed Girl 2:29
05 City Life 3:01
06 Do The Bosco 2:30
07 Roadrunner 2:30
08 Hello, Mary Lou 3:05
09 Cadillac Express 2:28
10 My Boy-Flat Top 2:28
11 "Rumble" 3:07

Bass – Tony Driggins
Drums – T.J. Cronley
Lead Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals – Cubby Koda*
Lead Vocals, Guitar, Clarinet – Michael Lutz

I saw the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors (a lot), Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson Airplane and many other groups too numerous to name in the '60's and '70's but when people ask me who put on the the most energetic, entertaining live show, it was Brownsville Station. Brownsville Station, led by Cubby Koda and Michael Lutz, with TJ Cronley and Tony Driggins played the grand venue of the Falls Church (Virginia) Community Center in the early 70's. What a show! They were Led Zeppelin playing loud "electric" high energy versions of fifties boogie rock! And they knew how to rock and roll.

Brownsville Station had two stacked Marshall on the front of the stage, and during the show Cubby, climbed the amps, up ten feet or so, stood on top like King Kong, and jumped to the stage playing "Roadrunner". He'd run and slide ten feet across the stage on his kness while playing a solo.

(The great version of "Roadrunner" on the recent Aerosmith album is more a copy of the "Roadrunner" on this album than the Bo Diddley original)

After the concert we eagerly awaited the album "No BS" which came out later that year, (with the ugliest cartoon album cover in rock history, drawn by one of the group's girlfriends). Thier best is on this "No BS". "Bebop Confidential" (with Michael Lutz sounding like he had far far too much, umm, caffeine), "Rocking Robin" "Cadillac Express", "Hello Mary Lou" (definately not Rickie Nelson's version) are are here at last. With exception of the truely bizarre "My Boy Flat-top", it's wall-to-wall tuneful songs. And the Applesaucettes sing "dwidle-de-de".

Finally "No BS" is here, and that's no Bull. By far their rockin' greatest! Music with stones. Be careful if you play it in your car, you might end up speeding.

this is as close as you can get to the magic that once was Brownsville Station. My only criticism is there is no improvement over my ancient LP, but it's great music.

Buy it while you can.

Incidently Cubby Koda, was nicknamed for a Walt Disney TV Show Mousketeer with similar large rimmed glasses. After BS broke up, he changed his nickname to "Cub" and wrote erudite music reviews in the "All Music Guide", before he died in 2000.

Edgar Broughton Band - 2006 - Live At Rockpalast

Edgar Broughton Band 
Live At Rockpalast

01. Evening Over Rooftops
02. Anthem
03. Speak Down The Wires
04. The Moth
05. Why Can't Somebody Love Me
06. Refugee
07. Momma's Reward
08. American Boy Soldier
09. Homes Fit For Heroes
10. Dr. Spock
11. Love In The Rain
12. Revelations
13. Hotel Room
14. Last Electioneer
15. Out Demons Out

Bass – Arthur Grant
Drums – Steve Broughton
Guitar – Andrew Taylor
Keyboards – Luke Broughton
Vocals, Guitar – Edgar Broughton

They're back, and the demons have already started packing their bags. Of all the groups whose spirit seemed least likely to be reborn for the 21st century, the Edgar Broughton Band were surely among the most pronounced. Their reputation, after all, was locked so firmly in the mire of countless muddy English festivals around the turn of the 1960s, with social protest and change on everybody's lips, that one simply could not imagine a "modern" audience seriously gathering to witness the exorcism of whatever ails the modern world. But "Out Demons Out" closes this televised performance by the re-formed Broughtons, and it is still as magical as ever. Looking, of course, a lot more grizzled than one might like to remember, Edgar Broughton himself remains a spellbinding performer, as he leads the band through a 15-song set that hits most of its early highlights -- no "Apache Drop Out," unfortunately, but "Evening Over Rooftops," "Momma's Reward," and "Dr. Spock" are all loud and proud, while "American Boy Soldier" peels out of its Vietnam-era relevance, adopts the desert as its natural home, and stands as pertinent today as it ever did in the past. And "Out Demons Out" is simply magical, even if the audience doesn't seem quite certain how to respond to its message. The demons, after all, are so much a part of modern life that there are generations out there who cannot even begin to imagine life without them. But there is an alternative, and this is how it begins.

Edgar Broughton Band - 2004 - Keep Them Freaks A Rollin'

Edgar Broughton Band 
Keep Them Freaks A Rollin
Live At Abbey Road, December 1969

01. Smockestack Ligh0tning 10:43
02. What Is A Woman For? 11:02
03. Yason Blues 4:23
04. Refugee 9:06
05. Dropout Boogie 5:30
06. American Boy Soldier 14:52
07. Momma's Reward (Keep Them Freaks A Rollin') 6:56
08. Out Demon's Out 9:55

Bass, Vocals – Arthur Grant
Drums – Steve Broughton
Guitar, Vocals – Edgar Broughton

Recorded Live at Abbey Road Studio Two on the 9th December 1969. Mixed from the original Eight Track tapes by Paschal Byrne and Mark Powell at the Audio Archiving Company 14th January 2004.

A legend in its own lifetime, Keep Them Freaks a Rollin' was, as its subtitle makes plain, recorded live at Abbey Road Studios in 1969, as a possible first album by the then newly signed Broughton Band. However, the tapes were shelved in favor of a more conventional studio recording, and only one excerpt ever made it out, a harshly edited 45 of the closing "Out Demons Out," already established as the band's live tour de force. The full-length version, however, remained unheard and, like the rest of the show, it eventually faded into mythology. The tapes were finally resuscitated in 2004, to herald EMI's CD remastering of the full Edgar Broughton Band catalog. And, though 35 years had now passed, the primal energy and majesty of the Broughtons in full flight still burns through. Egged on by a studio full of friends and fans, the band recounts its entire period live show, with a churning "Smokestack Lightning" and an evil "Dropout Boogie" pinpointing the two influences that collided to create the Broughtons' own unique brew. "American Boy Soldier," still one of the most potent protest songs of the entire Vietnam era (and an equally valid component in the modern-day outfit's live show) is spellbinding and, at almost 15 minutes, spotlights the band's improvisational powers to perfection. And then there's "Out Demons Out," restored to its full ten-minute glory once again, and still capable of swaying the stoniest heart. Would history have been different had this become the band's debut album? Probably not -- and besides, what would have become of Wasa Wasa if it had? But still, any survey of the British underground through the early '70s would be woefully incomplete without an evening spent with this album and, alongside Hawkwind's Doremi Fasol Latido, the first Pink Fairies album, and Mick Farren's Carnivorous Circus, it remains the key to what that entire movement was all about.

Edgar Broughton Band - 2000 - Demons At The Beeb

Edgar Broughton Band
Demons At The Beeb

01. For What You Are About To Receive
02. Why Can't Somebody Love Me?
03. Side By Side
04. Call Me A Liar
05. Poppy
06. The Rake
07. Gone Blue
08. Chilly Morning Momma
09. I Got Mad (Sole Dad)
10. And It's Not You
11. Out Demons Out
12. The Actor

Tracks 1 & 2 recorded in session for Top Gear, Radio 1 27.01.69 ? BBC 1969.
First transmission 16.03.69.
Tracks 3-11 recorded for Radio 1 Live In Concert 11.05.72 ? BBC 1972.
Track 12 recorded at Wee Mee Nit studios in 1976.

Sixties freak-outs and seventies stomping from one of the truly radical bands of the era. The first two tracks are the first ever recordings of the Edgar Broughton band - a studio session with John Peel from way back in January 1969. The music is the heavy psychedelic blues of their early years, which by 1972 had developed into a stomping live boogie mixed with acoustic (Roy Harper-esque) folk-blues, which is where the second part of this set comes from. This is a live show, mostly made up of material from their just-issued album, Inside Out. The two sets are a precious record of those glory days. For fans, it's definitely unmissable. For the undecided - it depends how tolerant you are of live music, with its imperfections, occasional bum notes and crowd noise. But the recording quality is good, and it buzzes with the commitment and energy you expect from the Edgar Broughton Band. Sure, one or two tracks fall flat, and there are a few unsightly self-indulgencies that people really did think were cool three decades ago. Hey, call it period detail if you want to be charitable. There's enough here to warm a few memories of the era or stimulate a bit of nostalgia for those of us who missed it.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1998 - Chilly Morning Mama

Edgar Broughton Band
Chilly Morning Mama

01. Side By Side
02. Call Me A Liar
03. Poppy
04. The Rake
05. Gone Blue
06. Chilly Morning Mama
07. I Got Mad
08. It's Not You

Edgar Broughton - Vocals, guitar
Arthur Grant - Bass guitar, vocals
Steve Broughton - Drums, vocals
Victor Unitt - Guitars, vocals

Recorded live by the BBC at The Paris Theatre, London, England on 11 May 1972

These recordings have been rereleased on Demons At The Beeb plus 3 bonus tracks from other sources.

The Broughtons - 1982 - Superchip

The Broughtons

01. Metal Sunday
02. Superchip
03. Who Only Fade Away
04. Curtain
05. Outrageous Behaviour
06. Not So Funny Farm
07. Nighthogs
08. Innocent Bystanders
09. Pratfall
10. Overdose
11. Do You Wanna Be Immortal
12. Subway Information
13. The Last Electioneer
14. Goodbye Ancient Homeland

Bass Guitar, Vocals – Arthur Grant
Guitar, Vocals – Tom Nordon
Keyboards – Duncan Bridgeman
Keyboards, Piano, Vocals – Dennis Haynes
Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Marimba – Steve Broughton
Vocals, Guitar, Vocoder – Edgar Broughton

First print on their own record label.
From the inner sleeve:
Produced by Edgar Broughton & Steve Broughton for WEEMENIT.
All titles published by Blackhill Music except 'Curtain' & 'Pratfall' by Blackhill Music/Soft Rock
In any event copyright WEEMENT MUSIC 1981. SHEET2

Super Chip: The Final Silicon Solution turned out to be the last studio release by Edgar Broughton in 1982. For those who were hooked on the raw, gritty, psychedelic and blues sonics of the original Edgar Broughton Band, this set, a concept album deeply rooted in electronic keyboards and new wave herky-jerky tempos, had to be a shock -- if they even cared at this point -- and there is every evidence to suggest, historically, that they didn't give a rip. Musically, Super Chip was deeply influenced by Bill Nelson's latter day Be Bop Deluxe and Red Noise projects, but it's not nearly as innovative as either. Culturally, the band found inspiration in reacting against Thatcherism (as it had in being political since its earliest days), and embracing new wave, albeit way too late as post-punk was beginning to wind down and give way to the sheeny New Romantic synthesizer driven pop that would put a half-dozen bands on the charts. Alas, it should feel cynical, but it's not; it's simply naïve. There are a couple of cuts here, such as "Metal Sunday," that opens the disc and has a certain Nelson-esque charm, and the brief "Not So Funny Farm," which has a cool guitar riff that sounds like something off Blue Öyster Cult's Tyranny and Mutation melded with quirky, off-kilter vocals. That's about it except for the 17-plus minute "The Virus" added as a bonus cut on the CD. It sounds like something from early electro and house. Disembodied machine voices give a sterile narrative explaining what the virus is. Its deep big beat is infectious for the first nine minutes before it slips off into hippie-dippie speculative synth ambience with bird and ocean sounds and an acoustic piano for its final eight minutes, like a tossed-off Mike Oldfield recording.

The Broughtons - 1979 - Parlez-Vous English

The Broughtons 
Parlez-Vous English

01. Little One 3:10
02. Waiting For You 3:57
03. Drivin' To Nowhere 3:32
04. Meglamaster 1:58
05. Didecoi 2:31
06. April In England 3:16
07. Revelations One 2:45
08. Anthem 2:46
09. Down In The Jungle 2:43
10. Rent A Song 2:58
11. Young Boys 3:31
12. All I Want To Be 4:10

Backing Vocals, Percussion, Bass – Arthur Grant
Drums, Vocals, Percussion – Steve Broughton
Guitar – Pete Tolsen
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Tom Nordon
Guitar, Synthesizer [Moog], Effects, Vocals, Percussion – Edgar Broughton
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Richard De Bastion

Recorded at Matrix and Townhouse Studios, London, between 17 December 1978 and 12 February 1979.

Recorded and released in 1979 in the aftermath of punk and in the heyday of new wave's cleverish cynicism, the ever political Rob "Edgar" Broughton decided to re-form his band which had disbanded in the wake of near total disinterest of the record buying public. Deeply influenced by Bill Nelson's latter day Be Bop Deluxe, Red Noise, Eno, and the Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food. However, the lean and mean punk ethos was far from considered as the band became an even grander exercise in excess by being expanded from three to six musicians -- two more guitar players including Pete Tolson from Pretty Things and Tom Norden, and keyboardist Richard DeBastion joined the trio. There are also a slew of female backing vocalists on this set. The music excess on this beautifully recorded disc resulted in a couple of decent Talking Heads-saturated tracks such as "Waiting for You" and "Didecoi," the slide guitar and synth-drenched "Meglamaster," a boogie band cut complete with sound effects, and the new wave-cum-guitar-raveup that is "Down in the Jungle," with its heavily phased drums. "Young Boys," with its multivalent dynamics and sprightly roots melody, is made paranoid by the ominous vocals. Far from a winner but a bit more than a curiosity piece, Parlez-Vous English? was better than the band's "farewell" live album and its disastrous futuristic concept album Super Chip: The Final Silicon Solution that followed.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1979 - Live Hits Harder

Edgar Broughton Band 
Live Hits Harder

01. Side By Side 7:31
02. Love In The Rain 6:09
03. One To Seven 4:48
04. Hotel Room 3:47
05. Evening Over Rooftops 6:30
06. Freedom 3:03
07. Poppy 1:35
08. Signal Injector 5:18
09. Smokestack Lightning 5:49

Bass, Vocals, Mixed By – Arthur Grant
Drums, Vocals, Mixed By – Steve Broughton
Guitar – John Thomas
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Edgar Broughton
Guitar, Vocals – Terry Cottam

Unlike the homonymous CD Edgar Broughton Band* - Live Hits Harder, where Terry Cottam gets a thank you for nothing special and John Thomas for "Guitars and sore Ribs", on this LP they are credited as musicians on stage.

Recorded live at Oldham Technical College, Newport Agricultural College and the Rainbow.

One of the most overlooked bands in music history. EBB have delivered superb contributions since late -60, this records proves them right: Best On Stage. The classic 'Evening Over Rooftops' has never sounded better, with great guitar-work and a steaming rythm-section. 'Freedom' has a rough-edged sound and is maybe the winning track on the album. The acid test; the more you listen the better it sounds! Highly recommended.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1975 - Bandages

Edgar Broughton Band

01. Get A Rise 4:58
02. Speak Down The Wires 3:09
03. John Wayne 3:08
04. The Whale 5:29
05. Germany 4:31
06. Love Gang 2:53
07. One To Seven 4:57
08. Lady Life 3:03
09. Signal Injector 4:00
10. Frühling Flowers (For Claudia) 5:00
11. I Want To Lie 4:34

Drums, Piano, Tambourine, Harpsichord, Vocals – Steve Broughton
Guitar, Bass, Vocals – Arthur Grant
Guitar, Vocals – John Thomas
Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer [Moog], Bass, Harmonica – Edgar Broughton

Edgar Broughton started going downhill with this album. Actually they started going downhill a couple albums prior, but this one feels like it sinks even deeper. Still, it's an admirable effort.

"Get a Rise" is some kind of... ragtime/country thing with female gospel vocals. What the? Haha! This is nothing like the Edgar Broughton of old! And am I reading correctly that Mike Oldfield is contributing to this album? He's the one playing the dulcimer and harp. The vocals are decent, as is the vocal melody. "I will survive!" ""Gonna kiss the baby's pram, put a tiger in your tank". Hey a really cool psychedelic guitar part with a wild west-like rhythm comes in towards the middle, and it's awesome! As is the female part to close the song with the repeating of the "I will survive" line. Still nothing like the Edgar Broughton of old, but much better in the second half of the song.

"The Whale" is a pretty cool Electric Light Orchestra cover... actually even though I'm kidding about that, the intro *does* remind me of the outer space-y weirdness that begins the ELO song with the same name! Some cool organs and softly sung acoustic folk carry this melody. The way Edgar sings "I think I'm gonna cry" reminds me of either the Incredible String Band or the Who, and the "I guess that's alright if the kids don't mind" in particular reminds me of Pete Townshend. While I like Edgar's emotional tone, this song feels really simplistic underneath the surface. Still a pretty good song though! "Look at the Indian ain't it bad, I'll give you beads if you give up your land, look at the whale watch him go, do you think he knows? Ain't he beautiful? I think I'm gonna cry, I guess that's alright if the kids don't mind and the folks get high".

"One to Seven" again hits me with more outer space-y stuff. This band was obviously in an adventurous mood when making this album! You can see all the constellations as you sail by. Anyway the first part of the song is all about a moog synth passage, and it's really cool believe me, but then... the vocals come in and they do NOT fit the prettiness of that instrumental intro at all! Quite the opposite. Ugh! At least some of the guitar playing with the vocals is pretty tasty, and the middle part with all the guitars and other cool ideas indicate the band was listening to some of the more creative rock at the time with more "Get a Rise" style psychedelic stuff. I love the instrumental portions of this song, but not so much the vocals.

"John Wayne" has great lyrics. "So my love do you wanna be free" Oh no my love, I guess you're a lot like me, I'm gonna run in the sun have a lotta fun, live to a real good age, I'm gonna father your child though you're driving me wild, you don't make too many claims". The lyrics suddenly get biblical ("All souls long to thoughtless rest, without the smallest prayer, like accidents of doubtful love, when no one comes or cares, all creatures cries and human voice repeat eternally on soft, moan winds and waxes of light, upon an endless sea"). Are we talking about John Wayne or... what? Haha! Good stuff either way.

"Germany" opens with a decent guitar line but the vocals stink in the same way as the ones from the first part of "Get a Rise". I shouldn't say the vocals stink, but Edgar's vocals don't feel appropriate in the way they refuse to compliment the guitar playing at all. Perhaps this album should have been entirely instrumental. I get the feeling these guys are trying to sound like the Band with a roots rock sound. Cool guitar soloing as the song approaches the end at least. "Well my brother had a princess, she was dressed in mirrors and the image of a boy-child shone in everyone, done a lot of roads, crossed a lot of bridges, sitting on a ferry 'til the daylight's gone, oh ma hey ma life on the road, gotta get it on!" Hmmm... no idea what these lyrics are about! "They danced as one, dainty as a feather, up to a point both high and wide, drew a lot of love all across the nightmare, waiting in the dark 'til the morning light"

"Speak Down the Wires" uses that strange vocal distorting effect that was famous in the 70's on songs such as "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin. Whatever it's called it's pretty awesome! This song's pretty awesome too. The way these odd vocals gradually shift into an absolutely *gorgeous* mandolin and acoustic guitar solo is just... wow is that part incredibly moving! "The desert was calling me back from the graveyard, tears on car windows like rain in my eyes, I'm loved and afraid to go back to those goodbyes, why can we only speak down the wires?" is a great lyric too. A strange vocal melody a couple minutes in that initially worries me that the song might change into something much worse but it's so short it doesn't matter

"Signal Injector" has hilariously offensive lyrics. "I went to see your mother, she said that's quite alright, for you to take me in upon this coming Friday night, we started drinking coffee, she moved onto wine, I'd rather have your mommy anytime, pretty lady don't you let it upset ya, it's just that my signal injector ain't very well, I know she told your daddy, he didn't mind at all, asked her where we done it, did she like it on the floor? Out popped a little bull whip, laid across her back, the neighbours turned the TV up". LOL! Sometimes lyrics don't need to be discussed in detail... such as on this occasion!

"I Want to Lie" has good lyrics too. "Don't want to die in a cool dark room with ivy filling the windows, low in a dark park two crystal lovers and one broken heart beneath barren willow, weeping in a river high in a wind howl, against pitiful man home, stand those without underneath stench sky" "Fruhling Flowers (For Claudia)" is decent. "There's a jovial land of army girls, singing out on the street, a child of ours is done to dust, as often as ladies meet, how often our ladies meet". Check out the lyrics from "Lady Life". "Oh lady life, what are we gonna do? Children born in a young sea, let the water shape thee, oh lady blues ain't it hard? I didn't think that I'd lose you but I did, I don't care what you do even when it's wrong, as long as I'm strong enough lady blues"

Well what would an Edgar Broughton album be without another "Roadhouse Blues" knockoff. Yup yet *another* one, even by this point when the band had lost most of its identity they still managed to come up with a heavy blues rocker. "Love Gang" is pretty good vocally because it reminds
of... you know... that guy. But I don't care, I enjoy this song. Love the moody piano change in the middle that takes us into a splendid guitar solo.

Even though I'm giving this album 3 stars, you know I actually like it for the most part. It's just not what I thought it would be. Actually it sort of is what I thought it'd be so let me clarify, it's not what I *wanted* it to be. The band going more commercial and losing the edgy subject matter, top notch vocal melodies and overall bizarreness. Oh well, no band can remain great forever however the lyrics are pretty solid for the most part. Bandages has its share of cool ideas such as the inclusion of the mandolin, tambourines, marimbas and other stuff that shows a band trying to stretch into something bigger even if the vocals aren't as good as usual.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1973 - Oora

Edgar Broughton Band 

01. Hurricane Man / Rock 'N' Roller
02. Roccococooler
03. Eviction
04. Oh You Crazy Boy!
05. Things On My Mind
06. Exhibits From A New Museum / Green Lights
07. Face From A Window / Pretty / Hi-Jack Boogie / Slow Down
08. Capers
09. Sweet Fallen Angels

Backing Vocals – Doris Troy, Liza Strike, Madeline Bell, Maggie Thomas (4)
Bass, Guitar – Arthur Grant
Drums, Percussion, Bells [Tubular], Vocals, Guitar, Tambourine – Steve Broughton
Guitar, Backing Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar [Bottleneck], Piano, Guitar [Spanish], Bass – Victor Unitt
Lead Vocals, Guitar, Tape, Bass – Edgar Broughton

The Broughtons' fifth album has never been as well-regarded as its predecessors, although that has more to do with timing than with the record itself -- by 1973, after all, the Broughtons' brand of post-hippie revolution was feeling just a little tired, particularly in the face of the glam scene that had emerged all around, and no matter how strong the songwriting and performances remained, there was still a sense of too little, too late. Which was colossally unfair. No, Oora isn't a patch on either Wasa Wasa or Sing Brother Sing. But it was an improvement on the previous year's Inside Out, and a handful of its contents -- notably "Exhibits from a New Museum/Green Lights" and "Roccococooler" -- could rub shoulders alongside any of the band's earlier, better-feted material. Indeed, the sheer diversity of Oora flies defiantly in the face of anybody hoping to pigeonhole the band with its past reputation, as Oora reveals a tight, concise, and extraordinarily melodic band whose members had clearly been listening to Neil Young as much as the Mothers of Invention, and weren't afraid to prove it.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1972 - In Side Out

Edgar Broughton Band
In Side Out 

01. Get Out Of Bed / There's Nobody There/Side By Side 3:42
02. Sister Angela 0:40
03. I Got Mad 3:45
04. They Took It Away 2:27
05. Homes Fit To Heroes 4:18
06. Gone Blue 3:14
07 Chilly Morning Mamma 4:32
08 The Rake 2:42
09 Totin' This Guitar 1:46
10 Double Agent 2:53
11 It's Not You 11:10
12 Rock'N'Roll 2:56

Bonus Tracks
13 Someone 3:45
14 Mr. Crosby 2:09
15 Look At The Mayor 9:42

Edgar Broughton - Vocals, guitar
Arthur Grant - Bass guitar, vocals
Steve Broughton - Drums, vocals
Victor Unitt - Guitars, vocals

Inside Out is the Edgar Broughton Band's fourth album, following the success of 1970's self-titled release. Although the humor and novel attributions of the group aren't quite as prevalent here as in the band's first few albums, Inside Out still has plenty of distinguishing characteristics, both musically and lyrically, to hold it together. "Chilly Morning Mama" and the tawdry "Gone Blue" add crass humor to instrumental improvisation in perfect Broughton-like style, enriched by Edgar Broughton's vocal snarl. The group's bizarre and sometimes creepy brand of rigid, sonic blues-rock is anything but structured, which makes halfhearted attempts such as "The Rake" and "Totin' This Guitar" relinquish some appeal. "It's Not You" is a singable chant which drips with campy theatrics, while on the other side of the coin "I Got Mad" and "They Took It Away" make for a couple of the album's more conventional cuts. Repertoire's reissue of the album to compact disc includes four bonus tracks, three of them B-sides. Out of the four, both "Call Me a Liar" and "Someone" exhibit the most charm. Inside Out may not be a necessity, but it's good to have if you're a true fan of the Broughton's.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1971 - Edgar Broughton Band

Edgar Broughton Band 
Edgar Broughton Band 

01. Evening Over Rooftops
02. The Birth
03. Piece Of My Own
04. Poppy
05. Don't Even Know Which Day It Is
07. Madhatter
08. Getting Hard / What Is A Woman For?
09. Thinking Of You
10. For Doctor Spock Part One / For Doctor Spock Part Two

Bonus Tracks
11. Hotel Room
12. Call Me A Liar
13. Bring It On Home

Original released as Harvest SHVL 791 in May 1971.
Track 11 A-side of single - Released as Harvest HAR 5040 in June 1971.
Track 12 B-side of single - Released as Harvest HAR 5040 in June 1971.
Track 13 Recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two 13th August 1970 (Previously unreleased). Mixed from the original Eight Track master tape at The Audio Archiving Company - 15th January 2004.

Edgar Broughton - Vocals, guitar
Arthur Grant - Bass guitar, vocals
Steve Broughton - Drums, vocals
Victor Unitt - Guitar, harmonica, piano, organ, vocals

The most conventional of the Edgar Broughton Band's first (and best) three albums, 1971's Edgar Broughton Band finds the group dispensing with the no-holds-barred mania and theatricality responsible for such classics as "Out Demons Out," "Up Yours," and "Apache Drop Out" and concentrating instead on more musical endeavors. It's an approach that arguably captures the band at their very best at the same time as revealing them at their ugliest. The two-part epic "For Dr. Spock" conjures images of Gong, as it drifts closer to space rock than the Edgar Broughton Band had hitherto ventured, while "House of Turnabout" certainly restates the group's free-freak credentials with its rumbling percussion and scything guitars, a second cousin to the roars that punctuated Wasa Wasa and Sing Brother Sing. The heart of Edgar Broughton Band, however, lies elsewhere. The lilting chant "Thinking About You," with its spectral reminders of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero," is certainly one of their most rancorous concoctions, while "Evening Over Rooftops" rides an acoustic guitar as pretty as its flowery lyric, but you know there's something rotten squirming just below the surface, even if you can never quite put your finger on it. The pure pop backing vocals, all "sha-la-la" and "doo-be-doo-be-doo," of course, only add to your unease. And, as that is merely the opening number, you can guess what you're in for over the rest of the album long before you actually get it.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1970 - Sing Brother Sing

Edgar Broughton Band 
Sing Brother Sing

01. There's No Vibrations, But Wait! 4:10
02. The Moth 1:45
03. Momma's Reward (Keep Them Freak's A Rollin') 3:05
04. Refugee 3:29
05. Officer Dan 1:36
06. Old Gopher 3:50
07. Aphrodite 4:04
08. Granma 2:24
09. The Psychopath 2:19
10. It's Falling Away 5:30

11. Out Demons Out
12. Rag Doll
13. There's No Vibrations, But Wait! (Alternate Version)
14. The Locket
15. We've Got The Power
16. Up Yours
17. Freedom
18. Apache Dropout

Recorded between July 1969 and February 1970 at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London.
First press has laminated sleeve and includes insert with lyrics and drawings.
Bonus tracks: Track 11 released as A-side of Harvest HAR 5015 in April 1970.
Track 12 recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two 9th February 1970 - Previously unreleased.
Track 13 alternate version. Recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two 20th July 1969 - Previously unreleased.
Track 14 and 15 recorded at Abbey Road Studio Two 10th June 1969 - Previously unreleased.
Track 16 A-side of single. Released as Harvest HAR 5021 in May 1970.
Track 17 B-side of single. Released as Harvest HAR 5032 in November 1970.
Track 18 previously unreleased Peter Jenner version. Single version released as A-side of Harvest HAR 5032 in November 1970.
Tracks 12 - 14 mixed from the original Eight Track tapes by Paschal Byrne and Mark Powell at The Audio Archiving
On rear sleeve and insert: "This album is dedicated to the conspiracy."

Edgar Broughton - Vocals, guitar
Arthur Grant - Bass guitar, vocals
Steve Broughton - Drums

Yuri Grishin's book on the Harvest label states that the A3/B3 matrix ending edition is the first pressing.

Sing Brother Sing almost equals the psychedelic cohesiveness and insouciant air of the Edgar Broughton Band's debut album, but, even without doing so, it still stands as their second strongest release. All the songs on Sing Brother Sing wallow in a hippie-ish, kick-backed experimental blues-rock style, extenuated to perfection by Broughton's resonant grumble and vocal staunchness, and surrounded by chem lab mixtures of guitar and bass. The group's peculiar instrumental outputs give odd tracks such as "There's No Vibrations but Wait," "Momma's Reward," and the two parts of "Psychopath" progressive rock-type tendencies with a homemade wit, which would be the band's most daunting characteristic outside of Edgar Broughton's singing. Although the Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa comparisons are unavoidable, the rest of Sing Brother Sing's facets and odd instrumental avenues emit a distinctness that remains the whole album through. The quaint but humorous English air that encircles "Officer Dan" and "Old Gopher" reflects Broughton's adept satirical approach, maybe without him even knowing it. Held together with elements of jazz, rock, and blues, the music on Sing Brother Sing is captivating because of its raw integrity, and in its refusal to adhere to structure, formula, or to travel a beaten path.

Edgar Broughton Band - 1969 - Wasa Wasa

Edgar Broughton Band 
Wasa Wasa

01. Death Of An Electric Citizen
02. American Boy Soldier
03. Why Can't Somebody Love Me
04. Neptune
05. Evil
06. Crying
07. Love In The Rain
08. Dawn Crept Away

Bonus Tracks - All Previously Unreleased
09. Messin' With The Kid
10. Waterloo Man
11. Jacqueline
12. Tellin' Everybody
13. Untitled Freak Out

Bass, Vocals – Arthur Grant
Drums – Steve Broughton
Guitar, Harmonica – Victor Unitt (tracks: 9 to 12)
Guitar, Vocals – Edgar Broughton

Originally released as Harvest SHVL 757 in July 1969. Track 12: Edgar Broughton Blues Band demos: Recorded late 1965/1966. Track 13: Recorded at Abbey Road Studio Three 21st January 1969.
"Untitled Freakout" mixed from the original Four-Track master tape by Paschal Byrne and Mark Powell at The Audio Archiving Company, London on 21st January 2004.

 So, what do you get if you cross 1969-70-era Stooges with the raw mutant blues of early Captain Beefheart? Pure satisfaction, in the form of this, the first LP by the Edgar Broughton Band. I was first drawn to investigate these guys in my youth after reading about them in the book ‘Space Daze’ by Dave Thompson, which was released in 1994 to accompany the 2-CD Cleopatra compilation of the same name. The live staple ‘Out Demons Out’ from Glastonbury 1972 was cited as an example of populist space rock, something that I can’t agree with having now heard their albums and rarities [some of ‘Oora’ from 1973 comes a bit closer to space rock], but after finding a copy of the first LP on secondhand vinyl a few months later I fell in love with the band all the same. The combination of Stooges-meets-Beefheart primal, tortured acidic rock with uncommercial, people’s band street cred and big mo’s was an instant attraction.
I assume those reading this will have some awareness of who the Edgar Broughton Band were and the proto-crusty Ladbroke Grove environs they blossomed in, so I’ll skip any attempt at biography – that’s already done elsewhere, including in the informative CD reissue liner notes – and get straight on with a look at the music.

‘Death of an Electric Citizen’ begins the album with a few tentative notes before kicking into full slaughter-fuzz, reducing a blues stomp to its most basic elements, and grinding it into the underworld with tortured, snarling guitar, thudding sub-Geezer Butler bass manipulations and loose drum splatter, with Edgar as the preacher of doom. ‘American Boy Soldier’ is a viciously anti-war song, starting with the recruitment of a hopeless, aimless young man with the enticement to kill, before becoming a sick doo-wop ballad that sings of the grievously wounded aftermath in mock light-hearted humour. ‘Why Can’t Somebody Love Me?’ takes us back to tortured guitar grind, embodying the wailing, black-skied grief that flows through the whole record, essentially the one repeated riff descending into the pit while Edgar’s voice tears your soul apart and breaks your heart with this hard rocking ship of woe. ‘Neptune’ continues the gloom with a spacier, floating progressive psychedelic blues vibe and heavily phased cymbals; if it weren’t for Edgar’s distinctive Beefheartian wail, this could almost be an early Earth/Black Sabbath out-take.
‘Evil’ picks up the pace again and invites some spirits to whirl around the ceiling, with a driving basic riff sounding almost like a rootsier take on riff piledrivers like ‘TV Eye’ haunted by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on an STP overdose. ‘Crying’ continues to bring the mantric angst, whilst ‘Love in the Rain’ does the same, but with some glimmer of hope and inner strength now ripping through the existential mania with triumphantly damaged riffing and splinters of feedback, finishing with Edgar exclaiming “that was soo good!” and panting with exhaustion.
‘Dawn Crept Away’ closes the album and is by far the longest track, the kind of extended oddity that less kind and more conventional reviewers would deem a ‘failed experiment’. Going through numerous distinct sections, I still struggle to work out how it all relates even after all these years of listening to it. The first section is a snippet of pub conversation, two guys observing another guy trying to pick up a woman, and wondering to themselves where they’ll be in the morning. This soon kicks into a typical repeated Broughton riff with Edgar’s weird-ass voice singing about a young boy and his mother, asking her about the red ball in the sky and lamenting a lack of answers, before spreading out and swinging between almost free-form sections and ‘the riff’. As is typical for the whole album, the song is infused with a deep feeling of dread, emotional pain, confusion, searching and clutching at some salvation. Coupled with Edgar’s lyrics and their lethal delivery, you’re almost left wanting to blow your brains out without exactly knowing why, but I guess the strength of this album is that such a feeling ends up as redemptive rather than suicidal, because it deals with real gut emotion but strives towards a life worth living.
(The real closer is a short vocal track, which if explained or described here would basically give it away, so I’ll leave that for you to discover.)

After this LP, the Edgar Broughton Band continued for a few years and released more albums, but I still look to ‘Wasa Wasa’ as the best of the lot. Later albums were certainly more musically and compositionally skilled, in conventional rock terms, as well as having more musical variety, but they don’t come close to this for sheer raw impact and savagery. The most consistent LP of the others is probably the follow-up, ‘Sing Brother Sing’.
There’s a great CD reissue of this album from 2004 on EMI that contains Edgar Broughton Blues Band demos from late 1965/66 [‘Messin’ With the Kid’, ‘Waterloo Man’, ‘Jacqueline’, ‘Tellin’ Everybody’], which are pretty standard blues rock as played by a band just starting to learn to play, as well as ‘Untitled Freak Out’ recorded at Abbey Road, 21 Jan 1969 [an acidic free-rock jam that goes for nearly 10 minutes].

Blue Oyster Cult - 1982 - Extraterrestrial Live

Blue Oyster Cult 
Extraterrestrial Live

01. Dominance And Submission 5:43
02. Cities On Flame 5:10
03. Dr. Music 3:27
04. The Red And The Black 4:22
05. Joan Crawford 5:13
06. Burnin' For You 4:43
07. Roadhouse Blues 9:01
08. Black Blade 6:09
09. Hot Rails To Hell 4:46
10. Godzilla 6:00
11. Veteran Of The Psychic Wars 7:56
12. E. T. I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) 5:07
13. (Don't Fear) The Reaper 6:19

In chronological order the songs were recorded at:

track 1 – Mid-Hudson Civic Centre, Poughkeepsie, New York, 11 February 1980 for a King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcasting.
track 8 – Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, New York, 17 October 1980
tracks 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 – Hollywood Sportatorium, Hollywood, Florida, 9 October 1981
track 7 – The Country Club, Reseda, California, 15 December 1981
tracks 3, 9 – Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, New York, 30 December 1981
track 2 – Tower Theater, Philadelphia, 31 December 1981

Band members
Eric Bloom – lead vocals on tracks 1-5, 7-8, 10-12, stun guitar, keyboards
Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser – lead guitar, lead vocals on tracks 6, 13
Allen Lanier – keyboards, guitar
Joe Bouchard – bass, lead vocals on track 9
Rick Downey – drums on all tracks except "Dominance and Submission" and "Black Blade"
Albert Bouchard – drums on "Dominance and Submission" and "Black Blade"

Additional musicians
Robby Krieger – guitar on "Roadhouse Blues"

Okay, so maybe Blue Öyster Cult do need that many live albums out, if only to demonstrate how far they had evolved as a touring act over the decade — just as far, actually, as they'd evolved as a studio band, from once having been a tough, experimental, tightly focused meta-hard-rock act to now realising the wet dreams of Spinal Tap fanbase right there on the stage. On Extraterres­trial Live, it's «rock and roll burlesque» all the way.

Not that I really mind. By 1982, the band was so grotesquely over the top that only the most hateful listener, or the most naïve listener, could suspect them of being serious in their approach. The whole concert was basically one big circus show — so that founding member Albert Bouchard, who was either kicked out or left inimicably halfway through the tour, should have been glad to be deprived of the dubious honor of participating in this debacle. And yet, there is something delightfully silly about how they re-deconstruct their already deconstructed material and poke irreverent fun at themselves, their music, the audience, and the «rock mentality» even as they give out the superficial impression of embracing it.

Invocations to the great power of rock and roll start immediately, right from the hysterical "one two three four!" that opens ?Dominance And Submission'. Then, taking over from the departed Bouchard on vocals, Eric Bloom gleefully salivates over the words "rock and roll" in ?Cities On Flame' — and then there's simply no stopping the band, particularly on ?Godzilla' and an extended cover of the Doors' ?Roadhouse Blues', which they try to turn from a mere «epic» track into a multi-mega-arch-epic powerhouse-of-a-track, adding extra repetitions of the "let it roll" section and a lengthy monolog on the details of the process of waking up and getting myself a beer. Meanwhile, ?Godzilla', complete with a spoken warning about the nuclear peril, finally de-cloaks itself as a contemporary update of ?Wild Thing', but hip enough to quote ?Milk Cow Blues' in the instrumental section. In short, it's all a madhouse.

There is one serious reason to own this record, though: Buck Dharma. You could always count on that guy to save the band out of a tight spot, and on this record, he seems like the only member who can still remember what a proper straight face looks like. His playing throughout is awesome, but nowhere more so than on the lengthy solo in the middle of ?Veteran Of The Psychic Wars': with little warning, they suddenly pick up the tempo and let Mr. Roeser explode in a super-fast, flashy passage that is totally overflowing with passion and ecstasy — unquestionably one of the best ever guitar solos captured on a live album, period. Even though he did not write the original song, he must have sensed its potential — that, despite its Moorcock origins, it was really that one sci-fi tune in the band's catalog that could have a universal application, Cold War and Viet­nam associations included — and he gave it his due.

In addition, just like their preceding two live offerings, Extraterrestrial Live also serves as a marking time album, closing the door on the «third age» of Blue Öyster Cult — the band as sea­soned veteran cosmic rockers with a penchant for campy excess and arena-oriented bombast, towards which they re-orient even their older material. Little did anybody suspect to what sort of depths this band would soon plummet, even if in retrospect, it does look fairly predictable that 1981-1982 would just have to be the last years where good taste and common sense could at least occasionally prevail over market demands, or at least go hand-in-hand with them. In memory of that, let us conclude the review with a big fat thumbs up («big fat» being a reference to the overall sound of the record, not the emphatic nature of the thumbs up in question).

Blue Oyster Cult - 1981 - Fire of Unknown Origin

Blue Oyster Cult
Fire of Unknown Origin

01. Fire Of Unknown Origin 4:09
02. Burnin' For You 4:29
03. Veteran Of Psychic Wars 4:48
04. Sole Survivor 4:04
05. Heavy Metal : The Black And Silver 3:16
06. Vengeance (The Pact) 4:40
07. After Dark 4:24
08. Joan Crawford 4:54
09. Don't Turn Your Back 4:07

Bass, Vocals – Joe Bouchard
Drums, Synthesizer, Vocals – Albert Bouchard
Keyboards – Allen Lanier
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Donald (Buck Dharma) Roeser*
Lead Vocals – Eric Bloom

Producer – Martin Birch

Seeing as how everybody and their tattooed grandmothers seem to love ?Burnin' For You', I won't say anything particularly bad about this song — but I do want to express a little sorrow in light of the fact that, where their first big hit (?Reaper') sucked up to the Byrds and their second big hit (?Godzilla') sucked up to... well, let's say The Move and Roy Wood's Wizzard, among other things, their third (and last) big hit sucks up to Foreigner. And it's written by the band's bestest melody-writer (Roeser) and bestest lyricist (Meltzer), no less! Yes, gentlemen, change is definitely in the air, and not necessarily for the better.

Not that ?Burnin' For You' is a particularly disappointing spokessong for the arena-rock genre: as a catchy, danceable vehicle to express longing and torment, it is totally on par with the best that Foreigner and Boston had to offer us. Nor would I want to deny Buck Dharma the right to con­tribute another «serious-sounding» rather than «tongue-in-cheek» song, after he'd proved himself so capable with ?Reaper' and ?Deadline'. But the pop metal riff tone that he generates (or is made to generate by Martin Birch, once again returning into the producer's seat) is so far removed from the classic hard rock sound of BÖC, and the chorus hook is so unashamedly «commercial» (in the not-so-good sense of the word), that even if we «accept» the song, it will still be clearly indicative of the numerous embarrassments to follow.

On the whole, Fire Of Unknown Origin still preserves the basic accoutrements of a typical BÖC product. The original line-up is still intact, Meltzer is on board, and so is Moorcock, contributing the lyrics from another of his fantasy scenarios; and so is Sandy Pearlman, with lyrics for ?Heavy Metal', a song that, along with several others, was intended to appear in the soundtrack to the animated movie of the same name; and so is even Patti Smith, helping out with the title track. There is sci-fi, fantasy, spoof horror, and campy, grotesque atmosphere a-plenty, starting with the album cover and ending with a song about Joan Crawford as a ghoul that has risen from the grave to keep on tormenting her unfortunate daughter (ironically, the album was released three months before the premiere of Mommy Dearest with Faye Dunaway, so who influenced who?..).

But the music, oddly enough, even though they still retain their heavy metal producer, once again veers off the «heavy» trajectory (as they tried to re-establish it with Cultösaurus). Those pop metal riffs I have mentioned are, in fact, the heaviest element of the sound — which is otherwise very much dominated by synthesizers. Thankfully, they try to use them creatively and in diverse ways, from background tapestries (title track) to doom-laden church-organ substitutes (?Sole Survivor') to playful, danceable New Wave patterns à la Cars (?After Dark'), and, besides, we have only just begun to knock upon Eighties' doors, so there is a good sense of balance. Addi­tionally, we must keep in mind that the band was essentially a «meta-rock» formation, meaning that they had to present their own quirky take on whatever was currently en vogue, so this shift to an early amalgamation of pop metal and synth-rock was probably inevitable. However, that does not mean that we have to enjoy it, and I would not call this album tremendously enjoyable.

In fact, out of its exaggerated, cartoonish, corny darkness (well fit for the exaggerated, cartoonish, corny darkness of Heavy Metal, for which many of these songs were written, but almost none were used), I would say that I instinctively enjoy only two songs, for different reasons. ?Veteran Of The Psychic Wars' somehow, almost as if against its own will, manages to capture a bit of the war-weary, troubled-paranoid syndrome — forget about Moorcock's fantasy-based lyrics, it could just as easily be about Vietnam — with an impressive build-up towards the ominous conclusion of the chorus ("oh please don't let these shakes go on..." is almost creepy), and its sonic atmos­phere, with those booming martial drums, is vaguely reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's ?Intruder', perhaps not accidentally so. A mini-masterpiece that I would recommend, hands down, over ?Burnin' For You' as the album's best track any time of day, night, or the interim.

The second track that I get a real kick out of is... yes, ?Joan Crawford'. It is a silly joke, yes, but a hilarious one, as if the band is spoofing its own predilection for the subject of vampirism and revenants — I can see how some stuck-up admirers of ?Nosferatu' could be offended by being offered this parody, but as a (self-)parody, I'll be damned if it doesn't work. Not only is it one of the best-produced tracks on the album (classical Chopinesque piano instead of synths! old-school distorted guitars!), but that little ghostly whisper ("Chrissssteeena! Mother's home!...") gets me every time. Plus, for what it's worth, there might be a glimmer of wisdom to this parody — in ad­dition to sending up their own obsessions, it also sends up the exaggerated «celebrity-bashing» wave after the sensationalist publications of Crawford's daughter had turned the late Joan into a model monster. Maybe the song does not have a great melody, but it has great theater.

The remainder of the songs are tolerable and not without compositional decency or hooks, but tunes like ?Sole Survivor' keep getting stuck halfway between «serious» and «campy», not at­mospheric or heartfelt enough to overawe the senses and not funny or inventively arranged enough to be appreciated as first-class parody, satire, or intriguing exercise in post-modernism. ?Heavy Metal: The Black And Silver' is the worst of the bunch (Spinal Tap incarnate); ?Venge­ance' sounds like it should be the personal anthem of Conan the Barbarian, but would he have liked all those keyboards, really?; and, closing the album, ?Don't Turn Your Back' is a repetitive, syncopated white R&B number that wants to say goodbye to us with a moody, but friendly piece of advice for the road ("don't turn your back, danger surrounds you...") but, in all honesty, sounds about as exciting as The Average White Band — which, all through the 1970s, BÖC never were. White, yes, but definitely above average.

Even so, Fire Of Unknown Origin deserves a lukewarm thumbs up. Its flaws are very much defined by its epoch, and the band's interest in pushing forward the boundaries of their sound and in exploring various alleyways around their main street is still very much intact. By all means, it could have been much better if they had a better grip on the really exciting things that were going on in the musical world around that time (for comparison, one of their chief American competi­tors in the «glam and satire» market, Alice Cooper, did get a much better grip — his Flush The Fashion was a far smarter and snappier exploration of the New Wave scene at the time). But even the way it turned out, it was anything but a simplistic sell-out, or a betrayal of the band's ide­als. They just thought it'd sound more cutting-edge with the keyboards, that's all.

Blue Oyster Cult - 1980 - Cultosaurus Erectus

Blue Oyster Cult 
Cultosaurus Erectus

01. Black Blade 6:30
02. Monsters 5:14
03. Divine Wind 5:06
04. Deadline 4:28
05. The Marshall Plan 5:24
06. Hungry Boys 3:38
07. Fallen Angel 3:12
08. Lips In The Hills 4:24
09. Unknown Tongue 3:58

Bass, Vocals – Joe Bouchard
Drums, Vocals – Albert Bouchard
Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals – Donald (Buck Dharma) Roeser*
Guitar, Keyboards – Allen Lanier
Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Eric Bloom

Kind of a confused record, but not without some major points of interest. As the disco backlash hit the streets, Bloom and Co. must have realised that they'd wandered a bit too far off in the back alleys — even if songs like ?Dr. Music' and ?Lonely Teardrops' were not without their merits, hearing them in 1980 might make the fans feel as if they'd just caught the band with their pants off or something. Quickly, the boys devised Salvation Plan B — drop all the vaudeville and get realigned back to heaviness. For extra security, they teamed up with famous hard rock producer Martin Birch, fresh off work on Heaven And Hell, the new album by the new-look Black Sab­bath (with Dio) — and once Birch helped them get out their own record, they even went on tour with Sabbath together (an old video, still officially unavailable on DVD, predictably called Black And Blue, actually captured that glorious moment).

Getting back some of that heaviness was a good thing, and, in fact, what with all the advances in technology and all, Cultösaurus occasionally sounds thicker and denser than anything they ever did before (Birch certainly saturates some fat inside Joe Bouchard's bass, for one thing) — but don't let that fool you: this is not an improvement on the first three albums, and, in fact, I'd rather we did not compare them at all, because the poor skeletal beast will not survive the procedure.

With just a couple exceptions that I will save up for a little later, Blue Öyster Cult have finally entered what is commonly referred to as «Spinal Tap territory». The typical song here is a big, bombastic, superhero-style light metal rocker — sometimes equipped with its own riff, but more often not (I'm still trying to locate one in ?Black Blade', but to no avail: most of the time it is the bass that drives the song rather than the rhythm guitar). The first songs start us off in sci-fi / B-movie mode, but as the album progresses, the band moves on to the subject of «Rock And Roll Hero», dedicating song after song to issues of superstardom, rebellion, and fall from grace — and much of this stuff just sounds like parody (sometimes rather pedestrian parody) on rock'n'roll aesthetics. Not deconstruction of rock'n'roll aesthetics, as it used to be in the glory days, more like relatively simplistic parody.

The «epic» number that opens the album is ?Black Blade', another collaboration with Moorcock on one of his fantasy subjects (the «soul-sucking» sword of Elric) — but, unlike ?Sun Jester', this one has no emotional subtlety whatsoever, and even though its fat chords, Neanderthal vocals, and scree­ching guitar leads do a good job visualising images of Boris Vallejo characters, the melody is not particularly memorable, and the song is neither awesomely impressive nor awesomely funny, so I am not exactly sure what to do with it. ?Monsters' is much more interes­ting, melody-wise, especially the way it manages to combine jazz with hard-rock (the mid-section reveals direct influences of King Crimson's ?21st Century Schizoid Man'), but... it doesn't sound much like «monsters». More like a passable jazz-fusion piece integrated with some generic hard rock passages. No visions springing up.

The second side is dominated by the shadow of ?The Marshall Plan', a bombastic saga of a proverbial rock'n'roll hero, peppered with lyrical references to Don Kirshner, quotations of the ?Smoke On The Water' riff, fake audience noises, and endless namecalling of a certain «Johnny» — good thing the album was released a good half-year before the Lennon shooting. As a glam-rock theat­rical piece, it's okay, I guess, but not particularly necessary after we've had ourselves that lengthy Alice Cooper streak of early 1970s albums, much more powerful on the whole. Again, musically it is the shorter songs that have more pull. ?Hungry Boys' is a rare case of a New Wave-influenced pop-rocker here, with electronic effects and slightly robotized vocals that contrast with fully traditional rock and roll guitar leads; and ?Lips In The Hills' is a good showcase for the boys' guitar interplay — nasty swirling arpeggios overlayed with stinging solos, fully redeeming the song for Meltzer's whacko lyrics.

But all of this is merely «decent». The only moments where the album approaches an oasis of greatness are, interestingly enough, ?Divine Wind' and ?Deadline' — two songs credited solely to Buck Dharma, indicating that, at this particular time, he was the most reasonable of the band members. ?Divine Wind' is melodically unexceptional — a fairly standard blues-rocker — but, alone of 'em all, it actually sounds serious: Buck's chorus — "if he really thinks we're the devil, then let's send him to HELL!", with heavy threatening emphasis on the last word — occasionally sends a shiver down my spine. Apparently, never mind the actual title, but the song was referring to the Ayatollah and the Iran crisis, and in these politically sensitive days would probably count as warmongering and maybe cost Blue Öyster Cult their place in respectable society and align them next to Ted Nugent, but things were kinda easier in 1980, and besides, regardless of deeper causes, the Ayatollah was one rather sick son of a bitch, so I can empathize. Most ardently, though, I empathize the howling guitar breaks and the doom-laden basslines.

?Deadline', one of the record's lighter tracks, memorizes an incident in which one of the band's booking agents was shot by a guy from whom he wanted to wrestle out a gambling debt — and the memorial is well held, with a chorus that somehow implies that being resolute and determined is not always a good thing ("he missed the deadline / he passed the deadline, darling"), and some moody, echoey guitar leads for atmosphere. Lighter it may be, but ultimately it cuts deeper than anything else on here, and I'd certainly return to the album in the future for ?Deadline' rather than ?Black Blade' or ?The Marshall Plan'.

Unquestionably a thumbs up here, because even the «bad» songs are so obviously tongue-in-cheek that only an idiot could get offended. But I would be lying if I said the album didn't have its problems — the major one being a noticeable disappearance of good rhythm guitar. You can't live on solid Buck Dharma solos for eternity, and the riffs did provide a reliable foundation for the BÖC legend in the past. Taking them out and substituting «theatrical pomp» in their place, hoping that we do not notice, is a bad move, and one that would eventually lead to their downfall. Fortunately, here we are still some way away from it.

Blue Oyster Cult - 1979 - Mirrors

Blue Oyster Cult

01. Dr Music 3:10
02. The Great Sun Jester 4:48
03. In Thee 3:48
04. Mirrors 3:44
05. Moon Crazy 4:06
06. The Vigil 6:25
07. I Am The Storm 3:42
08. You're Not The One (I Was Looking For) 3:14
09. Lonely Teardrops 3:37

Band members
Eric Bloom – stun guitar, vocals
Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser – lead guitar, vocals
Allen Lanier – keyboards, guitar
Joe Bouchard – bass, vocals
Albert Bouchard – drums, vocals

Additional musicians
Mickey Raphael – harmonica on "Dr. Music"
Jai Winding – strings on "In Thee"
Ellen Foley, Genya Ravan, Wendy Webb – background vocals

As the band's commercial fortunes started slipping somewhat with Spectres, a shift of direction and environment was thought of as a potential good move. A radical shift indeed — the band not only ditched Pearlman (temporarily) and long-time co-producer Murray Krugman (permanently), but it also betrayed its alma mater — New York City, going to California for the bulk of the re­cordings. The new choice of producer wasn't too bad: Tom Werman, the guy behind several clas­sic late-1970s Cheap Trick albums — but the choice of location certainly was, at least for 1979, the last year of the classic disco era.

Mirrors is not a disco album, but it is certainly one of their most danceable records, going very light on heavy metal riffs (no ?Godzilla' for a hundred miles around) and very heavy on Cali­fornia-style folk-pop and contemporary R&B influences. Technically, it is not so much a sellout as an experimental attempt to plant the «BÖC spirit» into a different kind of soil and see how it works — the songs are still relatively «weird» in construction terms, and the lyrics still contain plenty of the mock-Gothic, ironic-romantic imagery of yore. On ?The Great Sun Jester', they even enter into collaboration with a new familiar face — fantasy goon Michael Moorcock, who probably needed a change from his long-term collaboration with Hawkwind. All in all, this here is not a case of «band on autopilot»: Mirrors is an honest-to-goodness attempt to reinvent them­selves and stay up-to-date while at the same time conserving the old essence.

Naturally, it is a little offensive when a song called ?Dr. Music' opens the album and sounds like a mix of ?Pretty Woman', ?Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da', and some dinky mid-1970s proto-disco dance number that I can't quite lay my finger on. But it is essentially a comedy number, more of a straight parody on sexy posturing than anything else — Bloom's vocals are quite indicative of that — and condemning the band for this experiment, while trying in vain to get its catchy chorus out of your head, would be as useless as condemning the Beatles for ?Maxwell's Silver Hammer'. It is much easier to condemn the closing number: Lanier's ?Lonely Teardrops', riding on a Clavi­net line not unlike the one in ?Superstition', and taking it a little more serious than necessary (the "Lord I tell you, all I want to do is get back home" bit sounds achingly poignant, but the rest of the track is so dance-centered that the vibes clash and explode).

Yet the album is diverse, enough for everybody to be able to pick at least one or two favorites. I really like ?The Great Sun Jester', for one thing — a fun, exciting lite-prog epic, which I could have easily imagined on a Yes album, exuberantly sung by Jon Anderson instead of Eric Bloom and with a high-in-the-sky Steve Howe solo for the climax, but even in the hands of this here band it still rolls along with a wallop of life-asserting optimism, a little surprising for a song that laments the «death of the fireclown» (a Moorcock fantasy personage), but where there's death, there's always rebirth, you know.

On the other end of the pole, there's ?I Am The Storm', the album's only seriously rocking cut: a little Boston-glossy, perhaps, but it does rock the socks off, true to its name, with magnificent lead guitar from Buck Dharma and a hyperbolic-exaggerated old-testamental anger at the betrayal of love that we haven't seen since ?I Can See For Miles'. It's a pop song at heart, but they work hard to imbue it with rock fury, and I am quite won over by its theatricality. Heck, I am even won over by the theatricality of ?Moon Crazy', with its odd wobbling between old-time Kinksy music-hall and new-style whitebread 1970s pop — especially when it goes into overdriven drunken Slavic rhythmics and wild guitar pirouetting at the end.

Quite a bit of the time the record is boring, or somewhat limp: you'd have to be a major fan of the decade's conventional pop balladry, for instance, to get any thrill out of the ballad ?In Thee' (de­livered way too sincerely to be salvaged by irony), and ?You're Not The One (I Was Looking For)' seems to be a very self-conscious effort to write something in the style of that hot new Boston sensation, The Cars, but with those boring power chords for the chorus hook, the song becomes Foreigner rather than the Cars when it comes to climaxing, and gets the death sentence for that. Even so — it is at least interesting to watch it start out so promisingly and then self-de­struct so maddeningly.

Underwhelming as the effort is next to Spectres, with the lack of a definitive highlight (?I Am The Storm' comes close, though), I still give it a thumbs up — if you want to look for something really bland in this style, check out the average Average White Band from the same time period; Mirrors has its own intrigue, diversity, and charming clumsiness when you view it in context and see them try to corrupt all those new influences with their irreverent approach. One of these days we might even forget them the temporary move to California, I guess.

Blue Oyster Cult - 1978 - Some Enchanted Evening

Blue Oyster Cult
Some Enchanted Evening

01. R.U. Ready 2 Rock 5:55
02. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) 5:05
03. Astronomy 8:21
04. Kick Out The Jams 3:01
05. Godzilla 4:07
06. (Don't Fear) The Reaper 5:51
07. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place 4:08

08. ME 262
09. Harvester Of Eyes
10. Hot Rails To Hell
11. (This Ain't The) Summer Of Love
12. 5 Guitars
13. Born To Be Wild
14. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

 Track 1-1 to 1-4 recorded 4/13/78, Atlanta GA
Track 1-5 and 1-7 recorded 6/1/78, England
Track 1-6, 1-9 recorded 4/9/78 Little Rock AR
Track 1-8 recorded 12/31/77, Rochester, NY
Track 1-10 to 1-13 recorded 1/30/78, Detroit, MI
Track 1-14 recorded 1/31/78 Boston, MA
Mixed at Record Plant, New York

Band members
Eric Bloom – lead vocals on tracks 1-4, 7-9, 11, 13-14, stun guitar, keyboards
Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser – lead guitar, lead vocals on tracks 5-6
Allen Lanier – keyboards, guitar, mixing
Joe Bouchard – bass, lead vocals on track 10
Albert Bouchard – drums, guitar, backing vocals

At the moment, I only own the original short version of this album: in 2007, it was doubled in length with the addition of a whole bunch of extra performances, which might have doubled its value, I don't know — fact is, it was the original 36-minute long platter that managed, for some odd reason, to become the band's best-selling album ever. Maybe it was just the fact that here was a chance to get ?Reaper' and ?Godzilla' on the same record, so people just mistook it for a best-of compilation — or maybe everybody and their grandma just wanted to own a pretty picture of The Reaper sitting atop a black horse with a rather stoned expression on his face.

Anyway, even more so than On Your Feet, and even despite the short running length, Some Enchanted Evening presents the band as a fire-breathing rock monster sent from rock hell to kick everybody's ass, even though the band's tongue remains firmly in the band's cheek, as they more often send this image up rather than across. To honor their rock'n'roll legacy, they perform a couple of covers — the MC5's ?Kick Out The Jams' is significantly tightened up, its primal chaos converted into a more crowd-friendly blast of focused «social anger», and ?We Gotta Get Out Of This Place' shows that they... well, understand how to play around with the obsessed, paranoid soul of that song, even though not one singer in this band is an Eric Burdon when it comes to «winding yourself up» during the performance.

Other than the hip classics, the track list (again, culled from several different venues — don't be fooled by the reference to Atlanta, Georgia in the ad-libbed section of ?Ready To Rock', because that's just one of the songs) concentrates on their recent albums, going only as far back as Secret Treaties, with an extended version of ?Astronomy' that downplays the original's prettiness (re­placing pretty pianos with ugly synths), but has many more passionate distorted guitar solos in store, all in line with the «kick-ass» attitude. Even ?The Reaper' trades «clean» jangle and subtle­ty for a rougher, coarser approach, robbing the song of some of its otherworldly magic — but probably making it easier for the fans to headbang non-stop.

The funniest thing about the record, I'd say, is the intro. "ATLANTA, GEORGIA! ARE YOU READY TO ROCK'N'ROLL?" So many millions of times we've heard about this sermon, but fact is, you don't hear the "ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?" mantra on actual live albums all too often, unless you regularly listen to really stupid bands — which makes it all the more hilarious to hear it done by one of the smartest bands (at the time). The only problem is, this album rocks nowhere near as hard as On Your Feet: for all their bravado, Blue Öyster Cult have already moved well into their second, «smoother» phase, and most of the hard rock on this album is either cumbersome and lumpy (?Godzilla' — meant to be cumbersome like its protagonist, but that don't make it biting, snappy rock'n'roll, and the «Japanese» ad-libbing actually pushes it close to comedy), or closer to the power-pop idiom (?E.T.I.', which in this setting sounds almost exactly like something you'd hear from Cheap Trick in their Budokan era — come to think of it, this was Cheap Trick's Budokan era, and the two bands could easily learn a few expensive tricks from each other).

Which should not be taken as a criticism — it's a fun album, except that I do not particularly feel any desperate need for its existence, other than simply to document the then-current BÖC at the top of their arena-rock popularity, and that popularity has always seemed a little weird to me. In other words, it still does not convince me of the greatness of this band in its live incarnation, more like, of its ability to successfully manipulate the audience, following in the footsteps of the decade's early glam heroes like Bowie or Bolan, and in all these cases, I tend to view the live avatar of the artist as perishable, contrary to the studio avatar. Subsequently, the record does deserve a thumbs up if we're not being too serious about it, but if we are being serious about it, just stick to their studio albums.