Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Great Song - "Career of Evil" - Blue Öyster Cult - 1974

Secret TreatiesBlue Öyster Cult is a beautiful thing. Everyone has heard their name and hardly anyone has heard anything other than "Don't Fear the Reaper." They're nearly impossible to categorize but are revered by serious musicians across all genres. Basically a heavy metal Steely Dan, Blue Öyster Cult create intricate, hooky music with an intellectual bent (frequently turning to literary figures for inspiration and lyrics) that is at the same time heavy and sinister. They have yet to create an album that isn't a must-own worthy of multiple plays (though they tried damn hard with Club Ninja). Their black-and-white trilogy from '72-'74 is the essential cornerstone of their discography and the best of that bunch, Secret Treaties, is chock full of stone-cold classics and kicks things off with the best of the best from BÖC, "Career of Evil." 

"Career of Evil," above all other numbers, embodies Blue Öyster Cult's duality. There's a foreboding riff wrapped around an altogether nasty lyric that then bursts into a singalong chorus that sticks in your head with the best of pop songs.

...I'd spend your ransom money / but still I'd keep your sheep / I'll peel the mask you're wearing / and then rob you of your sleep...

You've got heavy keyboards layered on top of guitars with solos to boot but then also pleasant harmonies and the song structure of a jukebox single. It's immediately obvious why Blue Öyster cult is at once intriguing and engaging to a serious music fan while remaining off-putting and inaccessible to so many.  "Career of Evil," the pinnacle of an absolute killer album, is exactly that: the template for their pursuit of all that's unsavory and - at the same time - so damn compelling, so very satisfying.

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