Friday, April 25, 2014

Blue Oyster Cult-On Your Feet Or On Your Knees; Columbia Records, 1975


Of all the mid-period Rock bands, say 1970-1980, Disaster Amnesiac's favorite, and one that finds me having occasional obsessive listening periods, is most definitely Blue Oyster Cult. There's something about the way that the band approached their guitar craft that rings solidly, satisfactorily, within my cranium.
As for said listening, it's currently On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, the band's live two-fer from 1975, that has Disaster Amnesiac gripped in a Cult obsession. It's here that what one of the top drawing live acts from that era laying down compelling versions of their early repertoire, their Psychedelic- shaded Doom Rock tunes getting the hell played out of them: Cities on Flame, ME 262, Hot Rails to Hell, The Red & The  Black, and more, all getting the up front throw it down live attack from the 1970's preeminent American Guitar Army.
BOC plays the shit out of all of it, front men Bloom, Buck Dharma, and Lanier pushed and pulled by the Bro-down Bouchard rhythm section: siblings Joe on bass and Albert on drums, always sinewy in their heaviness.  Disaster Amnesiac revels in their playing. While not the most rhythmically direct band, their changes are always compelling in their slippery groove before the band hammers down on some Boogie. I hear a lot of Big Band from Al's kit, in a way that's much more interesting than, say, that of another Krupa man of the era, Peter Criss. Hell, those guys could easily have had the same teacher.
As for said Boogies, I figure it was the 1970's and the Cult (the ONLY Cult), were just giving the People what they wanted; plus, there is so much great heavy rockin' before, after, and even inside them as to be rendered almost enjoyable as the more complexly satisfying tunes.
Did Disaster Amnesiac mention guitars? At one point, the expressive guitar was the hallmark of Rock (it seems to have been replaced in large part by having the correct tattoo on the forearm or something), and Blue Oyster Cult had sacks of that action. Listeners may cringe at having to play a tune called Buck's Boogie in 2014, but, man, can D. Roeser play a mean melodic line. Alan Lanier earns points for great Rock keyboard playing on this one, too, while E. Bloom ain't no slouch either. What Rock fan doesn't love a little bit of Stun Guitar? Their physical attack is just slathered all over the twelve tracks of On Your Feet.
One just also has to love the sardonic, down to earth feel of the band's vocal delivery as well. Disaster Amnesiac has always been able to relate the BOC here. If one is American, one probably can't help but feel an inviting, "man on the street" vibe from this, especially when it's coming from Bloom. Check his Punk Rock ('murican wing) The Red & the Black. Or, sing along with Joe B. on Hot Rails To Hell and understand. No pomp here, just dudes singin' for their supper, take it or leave it. Either way, a ton of folks lined up for that delicious, devious snake oil that they were slinging. It often is how you say things that matters, at least in a competitive market, right?
Blue Oyster Cult went on to even bigger things immediately following this one, and deservedly so. Still, if you want to rock with some Ur-Cult, cooked up live and served hot and shiny, go and grab your copy of On Your Feet Or On Your Knees. My copy is a beat up promo, with nothing checked in the "Suggested Cuts" boxes. Disaster Amnesiac figures you could just as well choose any of them and have a fun listen. 

2 comments:

Pig State Recon said...

Interesting. This is one record I've never gotten acquainted with, probably because the guy who first turned me on to BOC reckoned it was weak - he pointed me toward Some Enchanted Evening instead. But he had a bias toward studio polish. Me I will have to reinvestigate.

I still think those two reunion CDs they did for CMC International at the turn of the millennium (Heaven Forbid & Curse of the Hidden Mirror) were pretty damn solid. Certainly those were way more musical and soulful than anything their KISS peers have done in recent decades.

Mark Pino said...

I was kind of the same way. It's pretty great, though, and the band put in top flight versions of their earlier stuff. Psych Heaviness!
I saw them last in 1999 in SF, and they were pretty good, except for the drummer, who paled in comparison to Bouchard.