Our Top 10 Blue Oyster Cult Albums list takes a look at one of the most legendary rock bands to come out of the 1970s classic rock period. The band’s music and legacy have only grown over time as their sound and image have so many times been utilized in defining the genre of classic rock. The origins of the band go back to the days when musicians including Donald Roeser, Andrew Winters, Albert Bouchard, Allen Lanier, Jeff Kagel and Les Braunstein first formed a band called Soft White Underbelly. Their first live show would be performed at Stony Brook University in 1967. A New York State University in which many of them were students. After a few years of shows, The Soft White Underbelly would hire a new lead singer named Eric Bloom and change the name of the band to Blue Oyster Cult in 1971.
In the early 1970s, Blue Oyster Cult auditioned at Columbia Records and was signed to recording contract by legendary music producer Clive Davis. In 1972, Blue Oyster Cult released their debut album simply titled Blue Oyster Cult. The band would follow up that album one year later in 1973 with an album called Tyranny and Mutation. As their fanbase began to grow and they had received very positive reviews on their first two albums, Blue Oyster Cult charged ahead with their third album entitled Secret Treaties in 1974.
Because of the band’s constant touring in which they generated and recorded so much great live material they wound up releasing a live album in 1975 entitled On Your Feet or on Your Knees. However it was the band’s next album released in 1976 called Agents of Fortune that turned band into a household name because of the single “(Don’t Fear)The Reaper.” Focused on continuing their success, the band released a fantastic follow-up album in 1977 entitled Spectres. The album would feature the great song “Godzilla,” which would become a staple on FM radio and one of the most covered songs in rock and roll clubs by cover bands. Everyone loved that one!
Blue Oyster Cult would continue to release albums on a consistent basis for the next twenty five years up to the year 2001. After a nineteen year gap in between albums, they would release their fifteenth studio in 2020 entitled The Symbol Remains. Our top 10 Blue Oyster Cult albums list is a tribute to some of the best albums the band has released throughout their long legendary career.
# 10 – Blue Oyster Cult
We figured we would open up our top 10 Blue Oyster Cult albums list with the band’s first album they ever released entitled Blue Oyster Cult. The album was released in January of 1972. As rock and roll fans, we are always interested in hearing a band’s debut album. Especially bands like Blue Oyster Cult who have had such long careers. It’s interesting to hear the differences in the sound between a band when they first started and the way they currently sound. In many ways there really was not much of a difference as far as Blue Oyster Cult was . The band’s first album is a heavy rock and roll record that was clearly inspired by bands like Black Sabbath and The Who. In many ways its stands its ground right up against some of those band’s most classic albums. Take a listen to the track ‘Cities On Flame with Rock and Roll,” and you will see what we are talking about.
# 9 – The Symbol Remains
We go right from the band’s debut album released in 1972 to their most recent album issued in 2020 entitled The Symbol Remains. This one absolutely blew away Blue Oyster Cult fans as to how great this album was. The album was heavy in the traditional old school Blue Oyster Cult sense while producing some killer songs such as “Box In My Head,” “Tainted Blood,” and “The Alchemist.” The album featured musicians Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Richie Castellano and for the first time on a Blue Oyster Cult studio album, Danny Miranda and Jules Radino
In the current music world where no one buy music anymore we have to be very grateful for the band for putting up the money to record such an effort when they all knew they would lose a lot of money on it. Yet, for Blue Oyster Cult fans and anyone who loves great classic sounding rock and roll, this album is priceless.
# 8 – Some Enchanted Evening
We don’t like to put live albums on our top 10 albums lists because it’s pretty unfair to judge a live album that in many ways is a greatest hits record against the individual solo albums. However, Blue Oyster Cult’s live album entitled Some Enchanted Evening also happens to be the band’s biggest selling album of all time. We think we should make an exception based on the album’s popularity and for the basic reason that it is one of the greatest live albums ever released. Some Enchanted Evening features stunning versions of songs such as “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” ‘Godzilla,” “E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)” ” Astronomy,” and “R.U. Ready 2 Rock.” However what fans really loved about this great live album was the fabulous cover versions of the iconic Animals song “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams.”
# 7 – Mirrors
The Blue Oyster Cult album entitled Mirrors was a great Blue Oyster Cult album that was released in 1979. The band had been on a stunning run over the past four years from both a commercial and artistic perspective. The Mirrors album was a bit of a slight departure for the band, It was a heavily produced slick production, but was still filled with outstanding songs and great musical perficmases by the band. The band was definitely looking to expand their audience with this album. However, the record itself did not sell as well as the band’s previous albums. Nonetheless, we still love this record, especially the songs “In Thee,” “Mirrors,” and “The Great Sun Jester.”
# 6 – Cultösaurus Erectus
Blue Oyster Cult was easily one of the most original bands from a lyrical perspective. The originality also contributed to some of the great titles they gave their albums. One of the best has to be the title for their seventh album entitled Cultösaurus Erectus. The record was released in 1980. There were no big hit singles released from the album, but the record was a solid effort from the band as they continued on their rock and roll journey into the 1980s. The album contains probably the only rock and roll song ever written about the post World War II economic recovery play the United States put into motion to help rebuild pro democratic countries called The Marshall Plan. But hey these guys were from Stony Brook University, a college that has one fabulous History Program.
# 5 – Tyranny and Mutation
Continuing with our Top 10 Blue Oyster Cult albums list we present the band’s classic album Tyranny and Mutation. This was Blue Oyster Cult’s second studio album release. The record was issued in 1973. On the Tyranny and Mutation album, Blue Oyster Cult showed great artistic growth on many levels and in various forms. Studio experience is a big plus for bands as they learn to navigate the tools of the studio while also learning to relax when that red light goes on. The playing is tighter, the songs much better written and the performances are all outstanding by the musicians.
While there were no big time hit singles produced by the album, some of the standout songs included “Hot Rails to Hell,”which was released as the LP’s single but did not break into any of the music charts. Also notable were the songs “The Red & the Black,” and “7 Screaming Diz-Busters.”
# 4 – Secret Treaties
As we continue on into the second half of our top 10 Blue Oyster Cult Albums list we will be showcasing some spectacular Blue Oyster Cult albums that helped define classic rock history. In the number four spot is the grand Blue Oyster Cult album entuited Secret Treaties. The album was released in 1974. It is the band’s third album release. It is also the band’s first album to achieve Gold status in record sales. The album opened with a great Patti Smith song entitled “Career of Evil.” The band often collaborated with Patti Smith during the early days because Patti Smith was in a relationship with Blue Oyster Cult member Allen Lanier.
All the musicians in the band focused one hundred percent on the music on the record and left the lyric writing to the band’s manager and producer Sandy Pearlman as well as rock journalist Richard Meltzer. The results were an album that was both heavy, melodic and filled with outstanding songs that established the band even more in the rock and roll scene as a favorite among rock fans and critics. If they only knew what was about to come next.
# 3 – Spectres
After the massive success of the album Agents Of Fortune in 1976, the band was faced with the monumental task of having to follow up the record of their career with their next album. The band would answer the call big time in November of 1977 when they released the album entitled Spectres. The album would spawn one of the band’s biggest monster hits of their career in the song “Godzilla.” The Spectres album would also become the band’s third straight Gold selling album. The album also featured the great song “Goin’ Through the Motions” which was written by Eric Bloom and the legendary Ian Hunter.
# 2 – Fire of Unknown Origin
In the number two spot on our top 10 Blue Oyster Cult albums list we turn to the great album Fire Of Unknown Origin. While the Blue Oyster Cult album Agents of Fortune gets all the love in the story of classic rock and deservedly so, the Blue Oyster Cult album Fire Of Unknown Origin was one of the band’s most successful albums they ever released. In fact, it was the band’s highest-charting album on the US Billboard Top 200 Albums Charts. The album Fire Of Unknown Origin peaked at number 24 on the charts beating out Agents of Fortune’s top position of number 29. The album also went gold in sales, although it did not reach the platinum status that Agents of Fortune achieved. Nonetheless, much of the success of this great album entitled Fire Of Unknown Origin was fueled by the huge hit single released from the album entitled “Burnin For You.” The song would become Blue Oyster Cult’s only number one song of their career as it hit number one on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock tracks charts. It was also a top 40 hit on the US Billboard Top 100. It was the only single released from the album, but it was a huge one.
Fire of Unknown Origin also did extremely well on the charts. It hit number 24 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. It hit number 21 on the Canadian Music Album charts. Fire of Unknown Origin was also a very successful album in the United Kingdom hitting number 29 on the UK album charts. The album was loaded with great songs. Some other standout tracks included the title track “Fire of Unknown Origin,” which was written by all members of the band and also legendary rock star Patti Smith, The great song “Veteran Of the Psychic Wars,” which was included on the soundtrack to the animated big time film Heavy Metal and the great tribute song “Joan Crawford.” There are many Blue Oyster Cult fans who actually prefer the album Fire of Unknown Origin over Agents of Fortune. We’ll take them both!
# 1 – Agents Of Fortune
Do you remember buying this album when it first came out? This was one of those great rock and roll albums released in the 1970s that every teenager had in their collection right next to Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin IV, Foghat’s Fool For The City and Pink Floyd’s Animals. We played this one all night long at parties, in our cars on 8 tracks and stared at the vinyl cover in our bedrooms. There were just so many great Blue Oyster Cult songs released on this album. Of course the song that blew everyone’s minds was the album’s mega hit single “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”Built on a three chord progression of Am, G and F major that was so heavily used in so many classic 70s songs like Electric Light Orchestra’s “Evil Woman,” and the coda to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven,” Blue Oyster Cult took that progression and turned it into one of the most spectacular rock songs of the 1970s.
Blue Oyster Cult was not a band who had many hits on the Billboard top 100. The song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” would turn out to be their highest charting song on the Billboard top 100 peaking at number 12. On the old US Cashbox music charts it broke the top 10 peaking at number 7. It was also the band’s highest-charting song in Canada where it peaked at number 7. On the US rock and roll charts it peaked at number 11. However, the song would have legs lasting years beyond its initial success in becoming one of the standards of classic rock and roll.
The song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” wasn’t the only great song on the album. There’s a reason why we chose Agents of Fortune as a number one record on our top 10 Blue Oyster Cult albums list. The album’s opening song “This Ain’t The Summer of Love,” was intense rock and roll art sung by Eric bloom. The follow-up song True Confessions was the perfect in-between track between the album opener and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” One of the album’s other famous songs entitled “E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)” featured a great Eric Bloom lead vocal. Side two’s standout songs included “Sinful Love, “Tattoo Vampire,” and the great closing track “Debbie Denise,”
If you liked variety in your lead singers in your rock and roll bands then you would have loved the Blue Oyster Cult album Agents of Fortune because on this great record every single member of the band sang lead vocal on at least one track. The album was also released in a nice deluxe hard cardboard gatefold many of their friends use for alternative purposes which we won’t get into right here and now. One of the truly great rock albums of the classic rock era in every way imaginable.
Top 10 Blue Oyster Cult Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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