Agents of Fortune

Agents of Fortune

With their fourth studio album Blue Oyster Cult updated and retooled their sound to better their chances at mainstream rock radio in the mid-70s. It worked, since the swirling mysteries (and cowbell) of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” became an FM radio classic rock standard and tunes such as “This Ain’t the Summer of Love” and “E.T.I.  (Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)” became fan favorite live staples for decades to come. Allen Lanier’s keyboards that took on added presence on their previous album, the hardcore fan favorite Secret Treaties, are given even wider expansion here, often challenging the twin-guitar attack of Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom. However, Blue Oyster Cult were always a suspect hard rock group, less interested in bludgeoning their audience than seducing it with unusual wit, obscure concepts and mysterious symbolism. The band’s earlier boogie exercises have mostly dissipated. “Debbie Denise” is practically a lite-FM ballad about a rocker on the road and his discontented lady waiting at home.  Emerging punk poetess Patti Smith (and Lanier’s girlfriend for a time) contributes lyrics and vocals to “The Revenge of Vera Gemini.” Demos (including one for “Reaper”) and an early version of “Fire of Unknown Origin” are added to the expanded edition.

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