Blue Oyster Cult History - page 4

Blue Öyster Cult 1970-1974

The record hit the streets in January of 1972. With a media blitz drummed up by Meltzer and Pearlman, and thanks to a friend of Eric, a lucky break getting “Cities on Flame” (most assuredly not 1972-style top-40 material) played on a New York top 40 radio station, the album sold fairly well, and started the growth of a country-wide fan base.

Its striking cover, by artist Bill Gawlick, yielded the band another treasure: The famed hook-and-cross “Kronos” Logo. Believed to be styled after the astronomical symbol for Saturn, Gawlick gave the symbol a prominent position on the artwork for the album cover. Its metaphysical, alchemical and mythological connotations, combined with its similarity to some religious symbols gave it a flair of decadence and mystery - perfect for rock and roll, and perfect for the kind of music that Blue Öyster Cult was creating. It was adopted as the band’s logo immediately upon seeing the artwork, and legions of fans have paid tribute to it and the band it represents by inking it on everything from walls and rocks to wet concrete and their own bodies.

Soon after the record came out, the band had to go support it with the first of many long, exhaustive tours. The band would tour almost constantly for the next two years, sometimes opening for bands that seem rather incompatible with BÖC’s style, such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The first thing the band discovered is that they didn’t have the showmanship needed to develop into a concert attraction. They were at a new level, and had to quickly learn how to grab an audience. A later tour with Alice Cooper taught the band a lot about staging, and working a crowd.

Because of the hectic touring schedule, the band had to complete most of the second record’s songwriting on the road. The first record still reflected the band’s origins, and echoes of SWU and SFG can be heard throughout the record, but the second record took on a much heavier and ominous tone, there would be no “Redeemed” to lighten “Tyranny and Mutation”’s load. BÖC put an effort into sounding “heavy” and succeeded in a most icy, spine-tingling way, definitely fulfilling Columbia’s wish to have a stateside Black Sabbath.

By 1973, the days of the communal band house were over, and each member lived in his own place, which led to less collaborative songwriting. They still retained a “band house” for rehearsals, but rather than working out songs as a group, they began to come to rehearsal with songs more or less together, and only the details to be hashed out with the group. The band aimed to make an album with more emotional impact for their third outing. When “Secret Treaties” hit the streets in 1974, it garnered great critical acclaim, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest heavy records of the ’70s, and is probably the most popular record with fans.