Fans of Blue Oyster Cult have waited for the revitalization of Spectres and their excellent live album, Some Enchanted Evening for quite some time. Agents of Fortune, the band’s hugely successful turnaround that yielded their first Top10 hit, “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” had already been reissued as a high quality SACD (Super Audio CD) several years back to startlingly brilliant results (a disc that I still repeatedly listen to as an SACD). Originally, Spectres was going to be reissued as an SACD as well but plans for that emergence had been scrapped.
Spectres was released in 1977 after Agents of Fortune (1976) to high expectations. It didn’t disappoint their fans, revealing even more shades of maturity than its exemplary predecessor revealed after Secret Treaties and Tyranny and Mutation. Many critics were harsh against the band for not producing a copy of Agents of Fortune, complaining that after “Godzilla,” there wasn’t anything of memorable import in Spectres. I found the opposite to be true.
Blue Oyster Cult delivered bigger melodies and harmonies, most as memorable, if not more so, than much of Agents of Fortunes entire catalogue of songs. Beginning with the anthemic big-rock sound of the classic “Godzilla,” moving into the hymn-like “Golden Age of Leather,” before launching into the remaining 8 tracks of good (“Death Valley Nights,” “Searchin’ For Celine,” “Nosferatu”) to great music (“Fireworks,” “R.U. Ready 2 Rock,” “Celestial the Queen,” “Goin’ Through the Motions,” – trivia alert, Bloom co-wrote “Goin’ Through the Motions” with Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople - “I Love the Night”), Spectres delivered the goods spectacularly.
While not an SACD, this remastering of Spectres is very good. The music is clean and precisely heard. The shouted parts in “Godzilla” are easily discernable while the clarity of the music is excellent. This is true throughout Spectres, which should please fans. The expanded parts of Spectres contain 4 bonus tracks recorded during the Spectre sessions but not used.
The bonus cuts are easily discernible as having been from these sessions however, it’s also clear why they were left off. They are fun tracks and their inclusion here is worthy as it shows us a process of selection. These tracks feel out of place with the overall theme of the album but regardless add value to this new package. “Please Hold,” the third bonus cut is a mid-‘60s Stones-like song that holds well. The final bonus track, “Be My Baby” is a cover of The Ronettes’ popular, “Be My Baby” and is actually a very good cover at that, if not a curiosity, and an oft-traded BOC track – it reminds of the use of “Loco-Motion” by Grand Funk Railroad. It is certainly offsides from the album but I’m glad that it’s here.
This edition provides a booklet that contains a short essay by Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Band – Lanier and Smith carried on a relationship for a time prior to Fred Smith, hence the familiarity of BOC by Kaye) as well as a complete set of credits and a discography.
Who, amongst BOC fans, doesn’t love those lines, “I love the night, the day is ok and the sun can be fun, but I live to see those rays slip away” from the ballad, “I Love The Night.” I’m so very glad to see Spectres given the treatment it so desperately needed.