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10 February 2010

Blue Öyster Cult - 'Secret Treaties' (Columbia)

Things really come together on this third album, where the BÖC integrates a lot more pop hookery yet somehow doesn't compromise their dark rock edge. And drummer Albert Bouchard takes the mic a few times, on the incredibly goofy 'Dominance and Submission' and 'Cagey Cretins'. But how about the opening cut, released as a single, 'Career of Evil'? A Patti Smith-penned bit of rock mythology that is absolutely ridiculous at times ('I'd like to do it your daughter on a dirt road'!) but magically awesome at the same time. I dig the weird keyboards and minor keys that hint at Eastern mysticism and the usual fake occult shtick these guys piled on. I assume most of that is Sandy Pearlman? Has a band of decent artistic quality ever been so dominated by their manager? He formed the band, named and renamed them (Soft White Underbelly, anyone?), produced their albums and wrote a ton of their lyrics. Though who can blame him? When left on their own, these kids come up with stuff like 'Harvester of Eyes', a tune which is saved by it's heavy half-time coda with scat singing on top. The fascist imagery that I mentioned when I reviewed their first album pops up a bit more overtly here, with the cover photograph and song 'ME 262' about a German warplane. But all of this imagery is just flirting. I'd love to get all of the weird background vocals (including the spoken bits on 'Dominance and Submission') and do a silly mash-up, but I guess SNL already exploited BÖC-themed comedy. We leave the cult here, as the Encourager Template dips no deeper into their catalogue, but if you wanna really bum yourself out, seek out Espers' butchering of the (originally sublime) 'Flaming Telepaths'. Oh, this time they thanked a guy who runs a T-shirt company, while on the last album they thanked someone from 'The Leather Man'. Maybe this is the short-sleeve polyester blend to Tyranny and Mutation's leather look.

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