Blue Oyster Cult - Tyranny and Mutation (1973) (Remaster Edit 2001)
This is another of the great remastered reissues of the first four Blue Öyster Cult albums which Sony put out on the Columbia/Legacy label. They include lyrics, photos, and liner notes by Lenny Kaye. They also contain additional tracks, and on this release that includes three live cuts and one outtake from the album session. In addition the albums have been digitally remastered and sound better than ever. "Tyranny and Mutation" was recorded in 1972 and released in February of 1973. It was produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman. This remastered CD was released on June 26th of 2001. Bruce Dickinson produced the remastered versions. One odd note about this album is that is their only album where the group is listed as The Blue Öyster Cult.
The album was originally going to be titled "The Red and The Black", and each side retains the subtitle from that original plan. The first four tracks (side one on the LP) are called "The Black" (physical, sensual, aural activation). It opens with "The Red & The Black", which is a new version of "I'm On the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" from their first album. This version is heavier and has more drive to it, and it is this version that appears on two of their live albums and that they still play today. It continues with "O.D.'d On Life Itself", "Hot Rails To Hell", and "7 Screaming Diz-Busters". All of these are regular concert fare for the group, and all are hard driving rock.
The next four tracks (side two on the LP) were titled "The Red" (phantasmagorical id-teasers and supernatural beings). It opens with "Baby Ice Dog" which is the first collaboration that the group did with Patti Smith. That is followed by "Wings Wetted Down", "Teen Archer", and "Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)". These pieces are much different than those on side one. They are more mysterious and melodic then the pieces in "The Black". My personal favorites on this album are the closing pieces to each section.
The remastered CD has an additional section which is the bonus tracks. There is a live version of "Cities on Flame with Rock And Roll" from a promotion album called "Blue Öyster Cult Bootleg EP" (the other songs from that release are available on the "Workshop of the Telescopes" compilation CD). The next track is a studio outtake from the recording sessions called "Buck's Boogie"; the live version appears on "On Your Feet or on Your Knees". The final two bonus tracks are live versions of "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" and "O.D.'d on Life Itself", which come from a "bootleg" made by the band to give to friends and family which was titled "Blue Öyster Cult in the West".
The group consists of Eric Bloom (vocals, stun guitar, synthesizers), Albert Bouchard (drums, vocals), Joe Bouchard (bass, vocals, keyboards), Allen Lanier (keyboards, rhythm guitar), and Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (guitar, vocals). This album is a solid four stars, and as with many of their albums, it improves each time you listen to it...m. Mandel
On Tyranny and Mutation, the Blue Öyster Cult achieved the seemingly impossible: They brightened their sound and deepened their mystique. The band picked up its tempos considerably on this sophomore effort, and producers Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman added a lightning bolt of high-end sonics to their frequency range. Add to this the starling lyrical contributions of Pearlman, rock critic Richard Meltzer, and poet cum rocker Patti Smith (who was keyboardist Allen Lanier's girlfriend at the time), the split imagery of Side One's thematic, The Red and Side Two's The Black, and the flip-to-wig-city, dark conspiracy of Gawlik's cover art, and an entire concept was not only born and executed, it was received. The Red side of Tyranny and Mutation is its reliance on speed, punched-up big guitars, and throbbing riffs such as in "The Red and the Black," "O.D'd on Life Itself," "Hot Rails to Hell," and "7 Screaming Diz-Busters," all of which showcased the biker boogie taken to a dizzyingly extreme boundary; one where everything flies by in a dark blur, and the articulations of that worldview are informed as much by atmosphere as idea. This is screaming, methamphetamine-fueled rock and roll that was all about attitude, mystery, and a sense of nihilistic humor that was deep in the cuff. Here was the crossroads: the middle of rock's Bermuda triangle where BÖC marked the black cross of the intersection between New York's other reigning kings of mystery theater and absurd excess: the Velvet Underground and Kiss -- two years before their first album -- and the " 'it's all F#$&%* so who gives a rat's ass" attitude that embodied the City's punk chic half-a-decade later. On the Red Side, beginning with the syncopated striations of "Baby Ice Dog," in which Allen Lanier's piano was as important as Buck Dharma's guitar throb, elements of ambiguity and bluesy swagger enter into the mix. Eric Bloom was the perfect frontman: he twirled the words around in his mouth before spitting them out with requisite piss-and-vinegar, and a sense of decadent dandy that underscored the music's elegance, as well as its power. He was at ease whether the topic was necromancy, S&M, apocalyptic warfare, or cultural dissolution. By the LP's end, on "Mistress of the Salmon Salt," Bloom was being covered over by a kind of aggressively architected psychedelia that kept the '60s at bay while embracing the more aggressive, tenser nature of the times. While BÖC's Secret Treaties is widely recognized as the Cult's classic album, one would do well to consider Tyranny and Mutation in the same light. On the 2001 remastered version, Legacy added live versions of "Cities on Flame With Rock & Roll," "7 Screaming Diz-Busters," and "O.D.'d on Life Itself," as well as a studio read of Buck Dharma's "Buck's Boogie," but they add little to the power and sinister majesty of the original album...T. Jurek
01 The Red and The Black 4:24
02 O.D.'D on Life Itself 4:47
03 Hot Rails to Hell 5:11
04 7 Screaming Diz-Busters 7:01
05 Baby Ice Dog 3:28
06 Wings Wetted Down 4:12
07 Teen Archer 3:57
08 Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl) 5:08
09 Cities on Flame With Rock & Roll Live / Bonus 4:44
10 Buck's Boogie previously unreleased / Bonus / Studio Version 5:21
11 7 Screaming Diz-Busters Live / previously unreleased / Bonus 14:00
12 O.D.'D on Life Itself Live / previously unreleased / Bonus 4:52