Blue Oyster Cult History - page 6

Blue Öyster Cult 1976-1979

For the tour that promoted “Agents,” the band decided to compliment its stage show with a new cutting-edge entertainment technology: Lasers. This relatively new (for entertainment) technology offered the ability to enhance the songs with twirling, twisting shapes made from different colored light, a high-tech version of the old psychedelic oil and pigment projections done in the sixties.

One of the first bands to ever bring lasers along on a tour, the band found that their pitfalls far outstripped their hefty capital outlay and maintenance expense. Not only did the band have to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of delicate equipment, they also had to lease an additional tractor-trailer to haul it and a staff including an engineer to run the thing. To top things off, at many shows the laser rig refused to function, and many fans feeling unsatisfied when the advertised “massive laser show” either failed to materialize or consisted of only one working laser.

To add insult to injury, government agency OSHA, responding to reports of temporary blindness caused by lasers striking concert goers in the eye, sent out investigators to follow the band on tour and take measurements, enforce projection rules and generally stick their noses in everything.

Although the laser show brought BÖC a lot of recognition and noteriety--many people still heavily associate “Blue Öyster Cult” with “Laser Show”--the band finally decided that the expense and troubles associated with hauling the staff and equipment around the country just wasn’t worth it, and they happily sold off the laser equipment and its accompanying hassles to someone else.

The success of “Agents” had the band on the road for extended periods of time, and the follow-up, “Spectres” took over a year to complete. Bolstered by the success of “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” the band worked very hard to try to come up with an even better record in “Spectres.” For a lot of hardcore fans, “Agents” was too “soft” and “Spectres” was even softer, with lush production and a very polished sound. Others, however, found the diversity of songwriting on “Spectres” a pleasant experience, as each band member contributed at least one song, and everyone except Allen Lanier contributing at least one lead vocal. Although “Spectres” sold very well, and generated a minor cult hit in “Godzilla,” its sales and its promotion by Columbia were ultimately disappointing for the band.

Live, the band was a rock and roll powerhouse. They’d been together for so long, and played so many shows that as a live act, they were tough to beat. At this time they chose to record another live album. “Some Enchanted Evening,” featuring what is to many the “definitive version” of BÖC opus “Astronomy” and a great version of “Reaper” went Platinum in short order, and it also gave the band some time inwhich to work on material for a new studio release.

For the next album, the band decided to get some “new blood” in the studio, and chose not to work with Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman, who had worked with the band on every previous album. This time they chose Tom Werman, whose work included Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent. Unfortunately the pairing of Werman and BÖC was not condusive, and the resultant record was not only a disappointment to the band, but also to the fans, the majority of which felt the record was far to pop and commercial. Although the record does have some great songs, including “The Vigil” and “The Great Sun Jester,” sales were bleak. It was apparant that the band was trying very very hard to write another hit, and both critics and fans took the band to task for it. Needless to say, Tom Werman would not be hired again, and the band realized they had to step back and reevaluate their next move in order to recover from the “Mirrors” debacle.