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(37:02; Frontiers Music)
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of ‘Agents of Fortune’, Blue Oyster Cult performed the album in its entirety in front of a small audience at Red Studios in Hollywood. As part of the series of BOC releases and reissues by Frontiers Music this is now being made available on LP, CD/DVD and Blu-Ray. At this time the band were of course Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser (vocals, lead guitar) and Eric Bloom (vocals, stun guitar) plus Richie Castellano (guitar, keyboards), drummer Jules Radino and the wonderful Kasim Sulton (for me he will always be a man from Utopia, but was also in BOC for five years). In addition, Albert Bouchard also appeared as a special guest on guitar, percussion, and vocals on some tracks. This was always one of the strengths of the band, as in the old days not only could every member play guitar, but they were also lead singers and on the original album Bloom sang three, Roeser just one (but what a “one”), Lanier one, Albert Bouchard three, his brother Joe one, plus Lanier and Bloom shared vocals on one. To listen to this album is somewhat strange, as it is obviously a “made for TV/DVD” effort, so there is virtually no audience noise and the band are somewhat subdued as they methodically work through the album in order. This means it comes across as a somewhat strange hybrid of a studio and live album and does not really work on either score. After the band’s first three albums they had done what all bands did back then, released a live album, and the resulting double release ‘On Your Feet Or On Your Knees’ went gold, giving them much more time to work on their fourth, ‘Agents of Fortune’, which was their first to go platinum. It of course included the breakthrough and still totally classic number "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", as well as others which many fans still highly rate such as "(This Ain't) The Summer of Love", "E.T.I. (Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)" and "The Revenge of Vera Gemini". Musically this saw the band take a far more commercial and somewhat subdued approach than their previous albums, and consequently this comes through on this release as well. Possibly due to the way this was recorded, there is little in the way of real energy in the performance, and it feels somewhat at the same level all the way through. It doesn’t help that both Roeser (68 at the time of recording) and Bloom (71) are showing their age, with neither of them having the vocal presence and strength they used to have, which in all honesty isn’t surprising at all! When the band are playing heavier, instrumentally, such as during the bridge on “Reaper”, that is when they are shining like they used to. Is this an essential release? No. But will fans of the band lap it up? Quite possibly. If you have played the original album to death (I was 13 when it was released and it had a huge impact on me, the first rock t-shirt I ever owned was BOC) then this might well be for you, but if you have let that one pass you by then this may not be for you.
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