Sound: Veteran hard rock-heavy metal pioneers mark their 30th anniversary with a career-spanning live concert DVD. Today's music observers familiar with genres such as black metal, death metal, etc., probably wonder what it is about BOC that parents did not approve of back in the day as it pales in comparison to what's available today. But back in those pre-internet, pre-'everything goes' days, they were considered a sinister force indeed. Cautious mystery and investigation beckoned what was behind those black and white album covers and chilling song titles.
Like many of their 1970's arena-rock brethren, Blue Oyster Cult (or at least their management) smartly realized somewhat recently that while the band's glory days are long since gone, there is a vein of nostalgia to be mined courtesy of middle-aged former devotees with discretionary income who enjoy attending State/County Fairs, Rib Fests, and Car Shows, all while listening to the 8-track sounds that used to blare from their Trans Am's and Mustangs.
Sure, Blue Oyster Cult (BOC) had actually put out 2 recent studio albums prior to this DVD (Heaven Forbid, 1998; Curse of the Hidden Mirror, 2001), but is that why they're still around and the reason for this release? No, their attraction is one that is purely based on live performances of their classic era material (1972-1988; I include 1988 as the classic era as that includes the indecipherable Imaginos album, even though it was essentially an Albert Bouchard solo album with guest appearances by the other original members, but by no means was it a true band performance... believe me, it's a whole other discussion). You've got the hard-core fans that want to hear the obscure material (Quicklime Girl, Lips in the Hills) as well as the general classic rock fans who are there for the radio hits (Don't Fear the Reaper, Godzilla, Burnin' For You), and in that regard BOC has put together a well-rounded package as all of these mentioned numbers are on the DVD. But what of the current band, the recording, and the actual performance?
For this performance, BOC is down to three original members (amusingly called 3OC by the faithful): Eric Bloom on lead vocals, guitar (no stun guitar this time), and keyboards; Allen Lanier on guitar and keyboards; Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser on guitar and vocals. Taking the place of original band members Albert and Joe Bouchard (drums and bass respectively) are Bobby Rondinelli on drums and Danny Miranda on bass. Bobby is a veteran drummer with stints in Rainbow and Black Sabbath, Danny was a veteran of the New York music scene and has since scored an incredible gig by playing bass for the revamped Queen fronted by Paul Rogers. It should be noted that prior to Rondinelli and Miranda settling, BOC had a revolving door of drummers and bassists including - at one point when Albert was fired in 1981 - the tour manager (not sure what that did for their credibility amongst their musician fans). True to form, neither Rondinelli or Miranda are still with the band, although they have stepped up to fill in on occasion. // 7
Overall Impression: If BOC could deliver a package like this but from the pre-Reaper era, you would have an epic and historical hard rock-heavy metal document for the ages. Unfortunately, like so many bands from the '70's that toured relentlessly, not much thought was given to posterity at the time and hundreds of golden opportunities to preserve legendary performances for the ages are forever gone. Thus, after the fact releases like this are born.
BOC certainly deserves more recognition and respect for their contributions to popular music beyond a mocking skit that ignores their talent and originality. This release, sadly, does nothing to correct that. Roeser's performance does much to lift A Long Day's Night above the rest of the classic rock fodder, but Bloom's weak performance and the lack of that feeling that when you saw these guys in concert in the '70's, that was it going to be dangerous, is completely gone. // 7