I’ve Found the Awful Truth, Balthazar

1 Dec


A Personal BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Top 10

1. Hardest rockin’ B.Ö.C. riff:
That one’s easy – “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll”. The sound of urban renewal in reverse, as interpreted by 5 stubbly fingertips on a Gibson SG through a stack of 50 Marshall amps. Which one of you wusses is gonna try and argue “Godzilla”?

2. Best B.Ö.C. album-side run:
My conscious mind says side one (“The Black”) of Tyranny and Mutation. Something we call ALL agree on. But my unconscious? My psychotherapist tells me all signs point to side two (“The Red”). Good golly!

3. Best 70’s Los Angeles area B.Ö.C.-influenced band:
THE IMPERIAL DOGS, who penned the original version of “This Ain’t the Summer of Love”. They were also one of the few B.Ö.C.-imitators to get that leather/fur/rock quotient just right.

4. Best 80’s Los Angeles area B.Ö.C.-influenced band:
A tie between THE JESTERS OF DESTINY (best Eric Bloom-esque hyperenunciation of weirdass lyrical content) and THE DROOGS ca. Kingdom Day (best hooded, chunk-style Dharma biker riffage).

5. Best B.Ö.C. cover version:
Brant Bjork milkin’ “Take Me Away” from the vinyl edition of Jalamanta. Man this song sucked hard when it original came out on B.Ö.C.’s Revolution By Night in ’83. And boy, Brant sounds righteous re-imagin’ it in the harsh light of ’99.

6. Best B.Ö.C. rarity:
Forget about the Live Bootleg EP from ’72, or the King Biscuit Flower sessions, or whatever. What you’re after is the quadraphonic pressing of Tyranny & Mutation – with alternate mix! Oh it’s hot hot hot, fr sure, and contains a whole barrel full of background vocal/gtr bits buried on the regular stereo edition. The only copy I’ve ever seen is now in the sweaty little palms of Thurston “I’m a musician, dammit, not a collector” Moore.

7. Biggest B.Ö.C. lie:
That B.Ö.C. went belly-up with the release of Agents of Fortune. Hogwash! These Long Islanders continued to be compelling at least until, I dunno, Extraterrestrial Live from ’82 or some shit – which was after drummer Albert Bouchard flew the coop! And I’m only ball-parking it here; lyrics remain worth exploring up until present day.

8. Best B.Ö.C. lyric:
Yeah that would be

I’m the eyeman of TV
With my ocular TB
I need all the peepers I can find
Inside the barn where you find the hay

(“Harvester of Eyes” from Secret Treaties, 1974)

9. Best B.Ö.C. outtake, now readily available on an expanded/remastered CD:
Buck’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” home demo takes the frickin’ cake, man. But all the extra cuts on Agents of Fortune are as suave/seedy as anything else on that filthy, damned platter.

10. Best B.Ö.C. song:
“Career of Evil”. No contest here.

All the B.Ö.C. questions/answers you'll ever need:

B.Ö.C. homepage

BOC pin

17 Responses to “I’ve Found the Awful Truth, Balthazar”

  1. mark December 1, 2007 at 9:01 pm #

    Funniest B.O.C. show memory (seen ’em 4-5 times):
    E. Bloom leaning back on the keyboards, but misjudging his reach, and falling into them. His shades remained on, and somehow he looked cool even doing that. Slim’s, S.F., 1998-ish.
    PS-Frankie Banali is not the word’s most compelling drummer. Especially when he “solos”.

  2. mrowster December 1, 2007 at 11:58 pm #

    4-5 times! I’m envious!

    But yeah, those shades were as important as the voice/stun gtr to Eric’s thing.

    And R.I.P. – Kevin Dubrow. For real.

  3. mark December 2, 2007 at 2:10 am #

    Yeah, I guess Banali’s ok. And I guess Dubrow saw the light after his hard fall post ’85 or so. Just, in the light of history, so many better bands from L.A. got the shaft from an industry that trumped up the likes of Q.R. Can you imagine Quiet Riot havin’ to follow Saccharine Trust or the Minutemen? Total conjecture, I know. I promise, no more snarky comments. It ain’t right.

  4. Anonymous December 2, 2007 at 2:12 am #

    I can’t believe you got thru that whole piece w/out mentioning the Minutemen! “City On Flames” is def’ the best BOC riff there. I’ve only ever stuck to the first 3 or 4 LPs. You saying I should go further?

  5. mrowster December 2, 2007 at 9:33 am #

    Anon: I suppose that’s what I’m saying. But I admit, it’ll take a very different mindset to grok what they were going for with studio stuff from Agents of Fortune onwards. Live, they’ve apparently always remained the rock powerhouse exhibited on the first few recs.

  6. mrowster December 2, 2007 at 9:50 am #

    Mark: snarky comments are ALWAYS welcome here, especially if they’re dressed up in stripey spandex bodysuits.

  7. Joe Stumble December 3, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Best B.O.C. riff — Hot Rails To Hell

    Best B.O.C. lyrics —

    Frontenac chateau baby
    I’ll cross the frontier at ten
    Got a whip in my hand baby
    And a girl or a husky at leather’s end

    (I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep)

    All else I agree with!

  8. mrowster December 3, 2007 at 8:02 pm #

    Joe: You may well have a point about those lyrics. They’re serious contenders.


  9. Less Lee December 11, 2007 at 8:22 pm #

    Hey, “Hot Rails To Hell” was good enough for White Flag…

  10. mrowster December 11, 2007 at 8:27 pm #

    That was the Tesco Vee influence. Homoerotic cop mustaches were good enough for WHITE FLAG, too . . .

  11. JW December 11, 2007 at 10:24 pm #

    Great post – Julian Cope recently did a mix of their 1st three LPs which I loved.

    But, even better is somehow bringing it all around to Tesco Vee. Good Christ!

  12. noisejoke December 13, 2007 at 9:28 pm #

    Long time listener, first time poster! Missed this post almost – somehow entranced by Yo La Tengo Hanukah diary (but keep tuned, there’s a connection). Anyway, can’t miss the BOC-athon – thanks to those who commented 2 days ago…
    So (understanding certainly this is all fun bar/blog talk), let me learn ya:
    1. Riff – uh, off to a slow start. This was the world’s riffiest band. How can you pick just one? In fact, you can pretty much tie their downfall into piss weak 80s Metal Pop (with still weirdo lyrics) to the lack of good or any riffs, which very much times to giving A. Bouchard the boot. Shit, anyway, Transmaniacon? Wings Wetted Down? Dominance? Career? The creamy Subhuman (a personal fave live)? ETI? Tattoo Vampire? And yes, Godzilla. Still, weirder than you.
    2. Album side run – all 4 on T&M and ST are near (and literally) seamless. Who can chose among their favorite children or dogs?
    3,4. LA bands?? – Who gives a shit. I’m from Long Island. Even farther from Australia than you yobbos. That’s almost as dum as talking MC5 influenced bands. I know you probably like the Bell Rays (she IS a great singer). But, you can tell me, honestly, ANY band any idiot ever breathed, “like the MC5″about was anything more than like..bullshit?
    5. Best cover version – Gads, no lie: just heard that dreadful “Take Me Away” for the first time YESTERDAY on one of the heavy stations on Sirius. And I had to explain to my 13yr old daughter (who’s getting into music without my prosletyzing) how this was my, in a romantic way, favorite band since I was her age, and I’m sorry she’s hearing this and it sucks. I recently put Agents on her Macbook – still awaiting feedback.
    Won’t get into “best” but for fun I’ll mention those I’ve witnessed. Of course, Minutemen on “R&B”, Firehose did “…Foot” right? I was in a band that did it too, and only able to even deal with the concept cuz I was on bass not guitar. Saw White Zombie at CBs maybe around ’88 do a great “Tattoo Vampire”. Dust Devils I think did “Godzilla”, The Meices did “Burnin’ For You” (there’s yr Cali). The comedian’s callback: Yo La Tengo just the other night, #5, of their 8 Nights of Hanukah at Maxwells, Hoboken, did ETI. Jew-tastic.
    6. Rarity – not my belt buckle? Recently lamented to my wife the loss of my un-bursted, dot-matrix lyric sheets (anybody remember “send SASE and 50 cents”??). Fuck, never heard of a quad anything from them. I guess ’72 was the time. Fuck Thurston, how can he POSSIBLY know? I love him and SY and all, but he couldn’t even riff “Cagey…” let alone “Cities…”.
    7. Lie – In real time, I tapped out after Mirrors and recalibrated to my last acceptable being Some Enchanted Evening (just got the remaster with goofy DVD!). I REALLY have a hard time besides a couple songs, after that. You’re gonna have to convince me. And they don’t/can’t AT ALL have the good song/per crappy album average that Cheap Trick or the Ramones had after their 5th/6th studio albums.
    8. Lyric – really, you can’t even start. (This ain’t Zeppelin we’re talking – mouth sounds to enable sex and sorcery. Or even Black Flag (adolescent twaddle to enable emotional gnarl better represented by guitar. I always saw a weird connection between Page “writing” ComBreak lyrics and his little chirp on “Whole Lotta Love” with his own special mic and the Ginn “punk” lyrics). Yikes! ANYWAY, the music went mostly in the shitter when Albert got the boot, but the lyrics were still the domain of Pearlman, Meltzer, Patti, and Joe’s overall better than Buck’s. But, to choose “Harvester…”, yes great and fun, over some of the archetypal Pearlman’s is a huge swing and a miss. “Astronomy” really covers everything that they do.
    9. Outtake – uh, dude, a demo for a hit song aint an outtake. “Boorman, the Chaueffer” now THAT’S an outtake.
    10. Song – not even going there. Frankly, I hate lists and “best” and all this shit hammered about in the newfangled interwebs of talk keeping us from staring into the abyss of the sun and remembering that life isn’t just to die, but to quote Livia Soprano, “it’s all a big nothing.” Which actually, I find quite comforting. But, I’ll never not listen to the Hollies or Capt. Beefheart. There’s no BEST, it’s fucking subjective art, and music being the least representative and the most inherently tied to our daily physical lives. But I digress yet again…
    NEW CATEGORY: Most horrible irony – Their awesome riff monster, with the highest ERA, Mr. Albert Bouchard, was an exceptionally shitty drummer. I hope he’s taken lessons since.

    If you made it this far, or even half way, I thank you. I’ve successfully deflected a wicked sinus headache.

  13. mrowster December 13, 2007 at 9:51 pm #

    Woah. GREAT to see somebody’s actually reading these things; better still, that somebody’s actually GETTING them. I bow. And although I don’t think of “Boorman” as anything but a studio lark . . . I do see the wisdom of many, many of your points. (Aw, who am I trying to kid – your comment just outdid my original post!)

    God I wish I coulda seen Yo La Tengo do “ETI” – that song’s been swimming through me head daily as of late. Jewtastic is an understatement. Ever seen the Brain Surgeons play?

    Thanks Mr. Long Island – you just made my evening.

  14. noisejoke December 13, 2007 at 10:51 pm #

    Mr Ow!

    My pleasure. Glad to give back a little fun and joy. I’ll likely never commit to own blog, so these occasional blursts are purely to the credit and patience of those whose little webworlds I momentarily hijack. I’m a holy terror on Chowhound.

    RE: Outtakes – well, yeah, there aren’t that many and frankly I’d say the Rhino Handmade release qualifies as the Most Ut and was my personal Holy Grail as a kid. Now I can die. Was interesting to hear more Dead than Allman’s in their obvious overriding influence. And even Iggy gives Morrison props, as BOC do. (I fucking hate the Doors.) But, my snarky point was actually that a “demo” is not an “outtake”, the latter being something judged lesser than other tunes making the at most 50mins generally allowed on a single slab of decent sounding vinyl. I applaud the current “file download” culture with decimating the standard freaking 70min CD, but nothing else.

    YLT – word is (and I’ll say I actually know) they almost did Godzilla. But, really, was too much work. Check Ira’s diary at yolatengo.com, but a Google search might find a recording, at very least a set list.

    Brain Surgeons – I regret I haven’t had the balls to check them out. They seem to play once in a while around here (I’m in Brooklyn). I might’ve heard them 10/20 years ago and not too impressed preferred to not mess with my fond memories and attachments. Seeing BOC at BB King’s on 42nd St was a mixed musical and emotional bag. I know Mr. Don Fleming recently (past couple years?) worked on something with A. Bouchard, and that in itself might recommend inspection.

    My making your evening, made my evening! Quite the circle jerk! (Oh, you’ll see early on in the series YLT did a bunch of tunes with Mark Arm including Circle Jerks “Operation” (first alb!)and Vom/Samoans “Too Animalistic”. Again, your Jew/critic/Meltzer connection comes to the fore.


  15. darbysmear March 6, 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    ever hear the cover of “shes as beautiful as a foot” by dave markey (sin 34,painted willie, we got power films) dez cadena ( black flag,misfits,redd kross,dc3)and mike watt(minutemen,stooges,firehose, dos) the vid is available on youtube

  16. mrowster March 6, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    Yeah I dig that too. That seems particularly right for those guys to cover – when I think of Dez and Watt, the first body part that leaps into my dumb mind (for no particular reason) is a stinky, fungal sz. 13 foot.

  17. Hasse L July 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Woaw, see many of those long deeeep, to me not understanble explanations or personal
    complex conclusions.
    Points at the highrevving minds of Oldschool souls vs the hollow shells of nasal muppets, rappers, daycarepop – same synthbutton on Cd 1, 2, 3 ,4 only pullute the air, hold up songnames and unessecary space.

    Nice you mentioned Carreer Of Evil!
    It wasnt even a thought i guess, just a plain statement – wich I could defend.

    Dont ask me why but somehow i associate it with Cagey cretins & Transmani…acon, *word*, make them the mystic triss. (think i heard them around same time or anyway they have a similar sound.. yes? Sry im not so into the terms.

    To me the word ‘cocky’ come up.. along with raw riffs, melodic groove, Boc-attitude.
    Thier TM is like make no fuzz with attributes, they just do it seemingly calm but yet
    T H E W AY they do it (including all superlatives), Can rock and kick ass so hard
    you can only listen once a week if you wanna sit down :)and harder than
    any old sabbath in their own way (sry my other gods)

    all topped with a ounce of drum-backbeats make me laugh and stumble..
    (“You know, I will not *h*e*r*e* – appologize”) oh shetwith those 2-3 short parts of drums as
    I cant dive in the twisty lyrics meaning even if I was eng-native,

    But for about 35 years i REALLY punished myself with the -stupid -stuupid
    – stuuuupid Question: Wich is the Best band ever?

    DO not doubt this: I AM NOT easy to impress. (Rather takes peoples try’s to grab
    something they forced think or hopes are good, and just cutem hard).
    – I like what i like.. and I know why –

    0 -100.
    0 to me is 75(%), my startline. Better have what you need in less quantity
    than those latest morons goin: whahaha 500 songs, i have 4000 in my pc…IDIOTS :)
    They cant decide, and change track every 30 sec, therefore the loss of any feeling for
    true music.

    Now I like alot of bands but Böc,sweet,kiss,cooper got in so early it became a part of me
    as child, and i maybe have more records with Judas but, due to the

    1. Amount of songs
    2. scaringly professinal, mystic, weavers of building music perfected to each tone
    may it be song,giutar,drums bass, they meet or hit each other where catchyness,Raw Riffs
    , holdups,backbeats not possible bounce out at us in a well studid flow.


    In the worst of scenarios initially I may fooled myself didnt gave them time
    enough, more than a few songs…. then goin to be 2 of my fav-records.

    The Marshall plan, Lips in the hills, Deadline. Mirrors, I am the Storm!
    The Vigil!, In Thee ….. Ok 5 years late, but still in the minds maybe someone
    get here as me, .. what ever it was?

    // Al Zheimer

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