Friday, April 06, 2007

Blue Oyster Cult (1982)

I'm pretty sure that I became a big fan of Blue Oyster Cult primarily due to Len and Mark's influence, but I know I had been somewhat familiar with them prior to that. Of course, I was well aware of the overplayed rock 'n roll radio (the term classic rock didn't exist then) hits, "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Burnin' for You". I think WPDH even gave some airplay to "Black Blade", which was always one of my favorites.

But I became briefly obsessed with them around the time of the release of Extra Terrestrial Live, the magnificent two-record set that perfectly captured the scope of their first decade of recording, except for the inclusion of "Dr. Music" and "Roadhouse Blues". I know I throw the term obsessed around pretty loosely, but this time I mean it. Seriously. I dreamed of starting up a radio station called WBOC. "All Blue Oyster Cult, all the time!" would be our catch phrase. I think maybe me and two dudes from Long Island, who saw them play back in the Soft White Underbelly and Stalk-Forrest Group days, would've listened. Who knows, maybe one of them was named Lee Mazzola.

Blue Oyster Cult was somewhat legendary in Poughkeepsie. I really don't know why, except that they played the Civic Center a couple times a year, but their legend catapulted when they gave a shout-out to the City of Sin on E.T.L.. During "Dominance and Submission", recorded at the Civic Center in fact, Eric Bloom proclaims "We like to come up here from New York City about once or twice a year because we know Poughkeepsie is serious about rock and roll".

The only beef we had with BOC around this time was that they closed every concert by playing "Roadhouse Blues". Len and I hated that song, and hated The Doors for that matter. On two separate occasions, we walked out of their concerts when they played that song as an encore. Years later, I would change my opinion of The Doors in general and decide that I no longer hated that song. In fact, I think I even grew to like it. This is difficult for me to believe today, as once again I prove to myself that my first impressions were right on. Sorry to all my friends who played numerous Doors covers during the glory days, but "Roadhouse Blues" blows.

My favorite albums were Fire of Unknown Origin and Agents of Fortune, and to a lesser extent, Cultosaurus Erectus. It wasn't until years later that I recognized that their best three album run was the first three, Blue Oyster Cult, Tyranny and Mutation, and Secret Treaties, released from 1972 to 1974. In fact, my first impression of those three albums was that I disliked them. I liked the versions of "Cities on Flame", "Dominance and Submission", "Hot Rails to Hell", and "The Red & The Black" that appeared on Extra Terrestrial Live, but when I purchased Secret Treaties, I was not impressed.

Thus was born the "old switcheroo" scheme at Caldor, a local department store. I would return the album, with receipt, and say it skipped. The returns and exchanges desk was in a completely different part of the store as the records department, so they would tell me to go get another one. I would return, saying they didn't have any more copies of that album, but with another record of the same price in hand, and ask if I could take that instead. Now, it wasn't that much of a stretch to do this with albums that I had recently purchased, but I quickly started pulling this stunt to get rid of albums I no longer wanted, but that were still in passable condition. Eventually, I got so cocky that I started asking for my money back instead. In these instances, of course, I had to be sure to hide the one copy they actually did have somewhere they wouldn't find it, just in case.

This worked every time, I do not lie...although I guess you could say I do steal. One time, they actually sent me to the record department, where they attempted to play the record on their turntable. Unbelievably, the record actually did skip. So, the records department clerk went to find another copy of that same record, and, would you believe it, they didn't have one. They just couldn't foil my plan. I think that particular record was Kilroy Was Here. Thank God I didn't get stuck with that piece of crap.

Incidentally, my previously discussed falling out with Victor Feliciano was due in part to a similarly elaborate scheme, involving petty theft, gone wrong. State troopers were involved, parents were notified, kids were grounded, friendships destroyed. Actually, my friendship with Victor probably meant about as much to me as my desire to own a copy of Kilroy Was Here.

Alright, now I think I've confessed too much. Eventually, my guilt would overcome me and lead me to the confessional, as deep down I was a God-fearing Irish/Italian Catholic. After confessioning my sins, I would never obtain another record without paying for it.

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