Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

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Melevolent Melodies

The fact that today is June 6th, 2006 (666) was the subject of much discussion yesterday at work. We joked a lot about the apocalypse, the Number of the Beast, the art that indulges the peculiar human fascination with the dark and the dastardly. Later in the evening, I talked briefly with my friend Tom about the same subject, and he brought up the music of Blue Öyster Cult.

I absolutely adore the music of Blue Öyster Cult.

Aside from being good old rock 'n' roll, BÖC created for themselves a very important, if not entirely visible, place in rock history. They weren't the first musicians to bring occult themes into their music, but the references they were making were certainly the most literate, and should therefore have been the most objectionable. And while they did receive their share of controversy, BÖC didn't race to embrace the musical cliches of heavy metal. They remained visible on the radar, but their popularity waned to a point where were simply not worthy targets for attack, especially when compared to megapopular acts like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath.

Still, the Öyster Boys recorded some of the darkest, evilest songs of the metal era.

This is not necessarily a mix of those songs.

It's not a mix of those songs because many of those songs, for whatever reason, don't really "do it" for me. Maybe they're overplayed on the radio (Don't Fear the Reaper), or controversial for the wrong reasons (Burnin' For You), or maybe they're just not what I wanted to listen to in the car tomorrow (Black Blade), since that's why I'm making this mix.

Here then, is my Blue Öyster Cult mix, for 6/6/6. The theme is a rather loose mixture of evil, destruction, and dark imagery, and includes some of my favorites, most of which you won't find on the numerous BÖC compilations out there.

01. Career Of Evil (from the album Secret Treaties)
The title alone qualifies this one for the mix.

02. Mistress Of The Salmon Salt (from the album Tyranny and Mutation)
A less obvious choice, this is not one of BÖC's better-known tracks, but is definitely one of my favorite songs. I'm not even sure what it's about, but it's so heavy, and the lyrics themselves are so EVIL.

03. The Old Gods Return (from the album Curse of the Hidden Mirror)
The lyrics on this one are kind of silly, but the some of the imagery is straight out of H.P. Lovecraft. Extra points for being written by John Shirley, who wrote the first draft of the screenplay for The Crow before they added all the splatter.

04. Divine Wind (from the album Cultosaurus Erectus)
While the lyrics and its 1980 release date make it obvious that Divine Wind is an anti-Iran and (especially) anti-Ayatollah Khomeni anthem, it's hard to pinpoint lyricist Donald Roeser's attitude toward the ease, excess, and abomination of This American Life.

05. Les Invisibles (from the album Imaginos)
This song comes from the out-of-print concept album Imaginos, which tells a story of the occult events which catalyzed World War I. BÖC was actually formed specifically to record this album, but didn't actually get around to it for eighteen years, two years after their first breakup. By that time, Imaginos was only a product that they were churning out for contractual reasons, but the album is highly sought-after and fans consider it some of their best work. This track in particular sounds so deliberate, so malignant to me, and the imagery is so dark...

06. 7 Screaming Diz-Busters (from the album Tyranny and Mutation)
An early staple of BÖC's live show, the music here is deceptively radio-friendly.

07. The Horsemen Arrive (from the Bad Channels soundtrack)
This song was recorded for a crappy movie you've never heard of called Bad Channels in which an alien takes over a radio station. It's not very good, but worth watching at least once for BÖC's contributions. This concept of the End of the World brought on by greed and ineptitude is as old as the concept of eschatology, but it seems more fitting with each moment.

08. Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll (from the album Blue Öyster Cult)
Many songs glamorize rock and roll, but few songs so successfully demonize it at the same time.

09. In the Presence of Another World (from the album Imaginos)
Another track off Imaginos, this is one starts out with contrived, faux-mystical catchphrases, and then suddenly (at 4:29 or so) becomes the scariest thing I've ever heard in my life.

10. Joan Crawford (from the album Fire of Unknown Origin)
BÖC sings song about all kinds of Dungeons and Dragonsy topics, from vampires to alien abductions, but the subject matter of this song stands alone: Watch out, Mr. Stay-Puft, the re-animated corpse of Joan Crawford is a-comin'!

11. Hot Rails To Hell (from the album Tyranny and Mutation)
You want tangible evidence of the impending apocalypse? Here it is: A few years ago I was flipping through the channels and caught a snippet of this song on Regis and Kelly. Afterward, Regis said, "Hey! That was Hot Rails by Blue Öyster Cult! Whatever happened to those guys? They were great!" When Regis is name-checking obscure BÖC songs, it's time to repent.

12. This Ain't The Summer Of Love (from the album Agents of Fortune)
BÖC always had a reputation as a bit of a biker band, as demonstrated by this evil-sounding tribute to hedonism.

13. See You in Black (from the album Heaven Forbid)
See You In Black is gray story that's just as much in favor of revenge as it is against spousal abuse. This is not a song about justice, it is a song about retribution. Also by John Shirley.

14. ME 262 (from the album Secret Treaties)
BÖC were a bunch of nice, Jewish boys too young to have been affected on any real level by atrocities of World War II, so during their early years they adopted a heavy Nazi aesthetic which to them was only vaguely ominous and evil. Legend has it that they dropped it only after a fan approached them after a show and saluted them wearing full Nazi regalia. ME 262 is the only remnant of those days still alive in their stage show.

15. Nosferatu (from the album Spectres)
Admittedly, this is only a clumsy reworking of Bram Stoker's Dracula, but check out what happens at the 1:49 mark.
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