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Music Review: Blue Oyster Cult – Agents Of Fortune

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Back in the days of my youth and vinyl domination, I remember hearing Blue Oyster Cult’s “Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll” for the first time. The hard crunching guitar riffs were memorable and classic. It was one of the songs that sustained me during my college years. I ended up purchasing each of their releases for next two decades. I counted 13 of their vinyl albums in my collection and I’m fairly sure all were acquired at the time of their release.

Blue Oyster Cult can be classified as hard rock or heavy metal. However you define their music, they have always maintained song structure and melody beneath the ominous sounding instrumental onslaught. They still exist as a band today.

Agents Of Fortune was their fourth studio album released in 1976. It proved to be their commercial break through as it sold over one million copies and produced their highest charting single, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Sony/BMG has now returned this classic album to its original vinyl form.

The vinyl used for this album actually feels heavier when you hold it in your hands. This fact serves to make the sound crystal clear. The original packaging and even the inner sleeve help preserve the feel of the 1976 issue.

Agents Of Fortune would take the group in a new direction. The production would be more polished and the songs had an overall more melodic structure. Still the guitars and keyboards would keep the music safely within the hard rock category.

The opening chords of “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love” prove that this is a more accessible Blue Oyster Cult. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” remains one of the classic songs of the 1970s. It has been used in commercials and soundtracks and still receives a great amount of radio airplay.

The album contains a number of very strong tracks. “The Revenge Of Vera Gemini” just propels itself along. The song was co-written by Patti Smith, who also provides back-up vocals, features some of the best riffing of the group’s career. “Tenderloin” has some nice keyboard and guitar interplay. “Tattoo Vampire” is almost frenetic in approach and the guitars attack throughout the entire track. “E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)” is just more overwhelming rock ‘n’ roll.

Agents Of Fortune remains an essential listen for any fan of 1970s American rock. Personally, I never tire of this album. Now is the chance to hear it as it was originally intended in all its vinyl glory.

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About David Bowling

  • Back in the day, I had this on both vinyl and… yep – 8 track. The vinyl had no bottom end and the 8 track was muddy, and consequently, it wasn’t one of my favorites.

    When the CD remaster came out in 2001, I was amazed to find that it really was what the critics said – one of BOC’s very best albums.

  • This new vinyl release is vastly superior to the 1976 version. Part of the problem was that most American record companies used recycled vinyl which made it vitually impossible to create a pristine sound quality.

  • the first three BOC records sounded pretty bad, though i suspect that might not have been true when they were first released….later pressings (on into the 80’s) were flimsy, with very thin sound.

    contrast those records with Spectres, which always sounded good to me.

  • “I counted 13 of their vinyl albums in my collection”

    paging the discographer

  • I had all the original vinyl – til I melted my copy of Club Ninja into a potato chip bowl.

  • One of my daughter’s gave me a bowl made from an album once. It was a Michael Jackson record and I was afraid to touch it.

  • It’s a amazing record because it __grows__ every time you listen to it. How many records ‘do’ that – f.ex.Britney Spears 😉 One of my favourite record all categories – up there with Bruce Springsteens ‘Darkness of the Edge of Town’ – if not better !