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Blue Öyster Cult – Cultösaurus Erectus

26 Jan 2008 · 1 Comment

Cultösaurus Erectus is the BÖC album that everyone likes better than I do. Conventional wisdom calls it a rebound from the disastrous Mirrors. but I think it’s actually a worse record (although perhaps not quite as dated production-wise). The band sounds unsure of its own identity. Presumably they were feeling pressured to repeat the success of “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) The Repear” and perhaps confused by the backlash against Mirrors.

“Black Blade” is to my mind the least successful of the band’s three collaborations with author Michael Moorcock. I like the tongue-in-cheek presentation of Moorcock’s infamously melancholy protagonist, Elric (”I just wanna be a lover/not a red-eyed screaming ghoul”), but I can’t overlook the song’s lack of a chorus (”black” in one speaker and “blade, blade, blade” echoing away in the other does not a proper chorus make), or its lapses into the ridiculous (the “grow, grow, groooowww!” break; the song’s concluding section, with the vocoder voice of Elric’s evil sword boasting over a “Baba O’Riley”-ish keyboard bed).

“Monsters” is the track most emblematic of Cultösaurus Erectus’s identity crisis. With a lounge-jazz sax solo, a near-rip of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” and a section that sounds, well, kinda like Blue Öyster Cult, it’s got a few too many ideas for one song.

Most of the other tracks don’t gel for me in one way or another — “Divine Wind” is too straight a blues number; the instrument tones don’t blend pleasingly in “Deadline”; and “Hungry Boys” is tinny just where I think it needs to crunch. The nadir is “The Marshall Plan,” about which the less said the better.

Happily, the album improves dramatically at the end. Thanks in part to a rare, not-unDaltrey-esque lead vocal turn from one of the Bouchard brothers (I’m guessing), “Fallen Angel” sounds more than a bit like a late ’70s tune from The Who. “Lips in the Hills” has an almost punky energy level. As an adult, “Unknown Tongue”’s soft-core account of adolescent S&M-tinged sexual self-exploration/demonic ritual seems distinctly creepy, but I still remember the potent kick it gave me in my own adolescence, and the chorus harmonies are still sublime.

Star rating: 1.78

Tags: 1980 · b · columbia · hard rock

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Flasshe // Jan 30, 2008 at 15:08

    Cultösaurus Erectus is the BÖC album that everyone likes better than I do.

    I wouldn’t say that, since once again I agree with everything you say here (although I probably like “Deadline” and “Hungry Boys” better than you do, and “Lips In The Hills” less). I think it’s an extremely overrated album in the canon, certainly less interesting than Mirrors.

    Yes, if only “Black Blade” had an actual chorus, which was always a BOC strong point. Love your blade blade blade text effect, btw…

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