Blue Oyster Cult History - page 7

Blue Öyster Cult 1980-1981

During this time, Sandy Pearlman had become Black Sabbath’s manager, and that association led to the hiring of “Heaven and Hell” producer Martin Birch, being hired for the next BÖC record.That, coupled with BÖC’s decision to get back to “being BÖC” rather than trying to write with the commercial hit machine in mind, brought 1980’s critically acclaimed “Cultösaurus Erectus.” This album brought home the fact that Blue Öyster Cult, always a little off the beaten path, were best to follow their own path rather than imitate someone else’s.

Birch brought out the best in the band, with clean, polished production that didn’t obscure the harder edges of the band’s sound. The band enjoyed working with Birch, and he with them. The critics and fans loved it, and although sales were rather disappointing in the U.S., the record was a hit in the U.K., reaching #14 on the charts there. The great reaction of the press and fans bolstered the band’s faith that they were indeed again on the right track.

Since Pearlman was managing both BÖC and Black Sabbath, it seemed a natural to pair the two in concert, and the tour supporting “Cultösaurus Erectus” was dubbed the “Black and Blue” tour, with each band alternating headlining each night. This tour was filmed for a theatrical release, also called “Black and Blue,” with each band alternating 3 songs each.
Birch was again in the driver’s seat for the next record, “Fire of Unknown Origin.” BÖC had also been asked to contribute songs for a new animated movie based on the “Heavy Metal” magazine. BÖC wrote several songs based on the vignettes in the movie, but in an odd twist of Hollywood decisionmaking, they chose to use “Veteran of the Psychic Wars,” which was not at all based on any of the plots in the movie. Although the songs weren’t used in the movie, the inspiration of possibility caused a flurry of songwriting, and those songs ended up being the basis for the “Fire” album.

Also on the “Fire” album was “Burnin’ For You,” a song Buck had written with a R. Meltzer lyric and was intended for inclusion on his solo album, which he’d been wanting to do as an outlet for the music he’d written that didn’t fit as a Blue Öyster Cult song. Although the “Burnin’” demo is the song that secured the deal for him to make his solo record, Pearlman convinced him to put the song on the “Fire” album, and it subsequently became the band’s next hit single. The song reached the top 40, and propelled BÖC once more into the public’s stream of conciousness. However, big changes were in store for the band. During the supporting tour for this record, founding member and creative wunderkind Albert Bouchard was dismissed. There had been a lot of problems at the time, and Albert’s indulgences and outlandish behaviour was beginning to affect his work. Ultimately on the U.K. leg of the tour, after Albert turned up late at two consecutive shows (and forcing the band to go on with lighting designer Rick Downey filling in) the band decided that it would be better for all involved to send Albert home, and complete the remaining dates with a different drummer. Downey filled in for the remainder of the tour, and Albert went back to New York. When the band returned home, they decided to make the split permanent. The band felt they could no longer work with him, although Albert’s creativity, his skill at arranging and composition, his boundless energy and prolific songwriting would be sorely missed.