It's one of those moot points that'll get any music message board worth its salt into a good and ugly debate, but I hold fast to the idea that if BLUE ÖYSTER CULT had imploded like BLACK SABBATH Mark I did, at the end of the 1970's, we'd talk about the former with the same hushed and reverent tones as the latter. Instead, BOC gets shunted aside in discussions of the evolution of metal, the weird nerdy Betamax to SABBATH's VHS, putzing around with their telescopes and chemistry kit and reading Michael Moorcock novels while Ozzy and Tony and Geezer and Bill were out breaking windows and banging the headmaster's daughter in the cemetery.
But listen to the sheer groove amid the slippery hard rock of a song like "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)", or the epic midsection of stupidly-big hit "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", and tell me that didn't influence subsequent generations of headbangers. For that matter, just look at their sci-fi concepts, their dark and sardonic worldview ("(This Ain't the) Summer of Love") and even the aesthetic of putting song titles half in parentheses or rattling off topics as simultaneously esoteric and ridiculous as "Golden Age of Leather" or "Workshop of the Telescopes". Even if their hits have relegated them to beer tents at rib-offs and classic rock radio, there's no denying the footprint BLUE ÖYSTER CULT have left on heavy metal as we know it.
It's one of those flukes of the music business that made 1978's "Some Enchanted Evening" — a total throwaway in its original form, seven cuts that were over almost before they started – the band's second-best-selling album, shifting a cool two million copies by capitalizing on the success of 1976's "Agents of Fortune". Like THE WHO's "Live at Leeds", though, "Some Enchanted Evening" effectively becomes a different (and much more awesome) animal upon its reissue, effectively doubling in length and including the rest of a shit-hot concert it was foolish to have edited in the first place. The entire last half of the show is added as bonus tracks, making the whole document much more worth your time and trouble.
And there's no question that BLUE ÖYSTER CULT was riding high in '78, delivering both the hits and their more ambitious sci-fi concepts to a rapt and rabid Atlanta theater for 73 minutes of relentless '70s rock perfection. Try not to get lost in the extended jam of "Astronomy" (think of it as "Free Bird" for the science fair set), the proto-boogie of "R.U. Ready 2 Rock", or the 3/4 choogle of "Harvester of Eyes". An album-side-worthy "(This Ain't the) Summer of Love" provides the perfect bridge between THE WHO and SABBATH, as a matter of fact, with one foot in arena rock and roll and the other in a more sinister, heavy and expansive worldview (not to mention a long, bass-heavy extended midsection that owes as much to "The Warning" as it does to EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER or THE ALLMAN BROTHERS). Hell, the band even turns hoary live cover "Born to be Wild" into a spaced-out meltdown, as if that motorcycle somehow left the ground and ended up in deep space. It's easy to imagine everyone from a young Cliff Burton to the members of VOIVOD to the guys in FIREHOSE and KYUSS gawking at their speakers in awe as these godly riffs and snaking rhythms rumble down the mountain.
You know how with SABBATH, there are people who argue the merits of all the albums made by all the lineups, but it's pretty universally accepted that the first six albums are must-haves? Let's just lay down the metal law right here on BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, shall we? Everything up to and including this stellar live reissue should be mandatory listening as well. Don't believe me? Get the two-disc "Workshop of the Telescopes" best-of, then work your way through the catalog. Or just grab this, since it's new and completely refurbished (complete with a rough-and-ready bonus DVD of live footage from the same tour), and get your mind blown by these eccentric architects. It's real metal, all right.