Analog Adventures: Spectres

Blue Öyster Cult



About The Artist

Blue Öyster Cult began as Soft White Underbelly, with the hopes of being an American answer to Black Sabbath. This is apparent with similar horror and occult themes prevalent through out their albums. Blistering guitar work, grooving bass, big drums, and harmonious vocals are a few more similarities the bands have. While Black Sabbath tends to focus on the supernatural, Blue Öyster Cult emphasizes monsters found in popular culture. Their work is based on what you one would find at a Saturday night creature-feature at the drive-in theater instead of a beat up manuscript of Aleister Crowley’s writings. This new world, old world dichotomy perfectly characterizes the differences between the two bands. Regardless of differences, Blue Öyster Cult is highly touted as one of the finest American hard rock bands still performing.

The Record Itself

Spectres is Blue Öyster Cult’s fifth album and begins with one of the bands biggest hits, Godzilla. The song features many of the bands trademarks such as big guitar riffs, but also is not afraid to play with studio tricks. Guitarist Buck Dharma emulates the sound of power lines being torn down by using a guitar slide. With a legato slide from the low frets to the high, you can hear the tension increase to the point where the guitar sounds as if it will snap. More studio tricks enhance the drama of the song by having a Japanese broadcaster warn of Godzilla’s arrival. Dharma is not simply a gimmick guitarist, he has some serious chops as well.

“The day is okay and the sun can be fun, but I live to see those rays slip away” – Blue Öyster Cult, I Love the Night.

Nearly every track contains guitar hero antics from Dharma that is on par with contemporaries such as Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi. Other members of the band are no slackers either, with each player shining on each track on the album. The songwriting is also diverse, containing hard rock anthems such as R. U. Ready 2 Rock and Celestial Queen, big stadium rock ballads like Going Through the Motions, and the grandiose and cinematic Nosferatu. Spectres is on a standard 140 gram record, but this has held up well in the 42 years since. The original pressing is unique since it contains a typo on the label, naming the band as simply Blue Öyster. The typo does not add any additional value due to this being quite a large pressing, but subsequent releases corrected the bands name.

The rear cover and misprinted label calling the band Blue Öyster.

Is It Worth It?

Blue Öyster Cult is one of the best American hard rock bands still around, and their body of work speaks for itself. This record has a range of tracks, each as good as the last. There are fewer better examples of 1970s rock music than Spectres. This record has a large printing and is widely available at record stores and online marketplaces such as Discogs. Even the best copies will cost about $15, making this a must have record in any collection.

Outstanding Tracks

  • Godzilla
  • Death Valley Nights
  • Nosferatu

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Jose Diaz

Collector of analog media.

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