BLUE OYSTER CULT- “BLUE OYSTER & BLACK OAK”

Blue Oyster Cult Live in Oakland, Ca. on 6-6-76. Photo by Ben Upham. Magical Moment Photos.
BLUE OYSTER CULT ROCKING OUT AT THE DAY ON THE GREEN IN OAKLAND, CA. ON JUNE 6, 1976. PHOTO BY BEN UPHAM.
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BLUE OYSTER CULT-
“BLUE OYSTER & BLACK OAK”
BY JOHN E. HOLMES
THE CORPUS CHRISTI TIMES
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS
NOVEMBER 1, 1977

The Blue Oyster Cult and Black Oak invaded Memorial Coliseum last night in the second sold out concert in a week and proved why they’re touted as two of America’s most improved bands.

Black Oak, with four new members but led by the inimitable Jim “Dandy” Mangrum, took the stage first and motored through an impressive 10-song set which displayed the best of both its worlds. Previously regarded as the worlds foremost “raunch and roll” band, Black Oak is now a tight, straight forward band with as much or more finesse as any other high-energy act around. Mangrum and guitarist Jimmy Henderson have surrounded themselves with four of Memphis better musicians and the rise in musical quality is almost amazing.

New guitarists Jack Holder and Greg Reding blend right in with Henderson, swapping leads and fighting guitar duels, while the new rhythm section of bassist Andy Tanas and drummer Joel Williams build a rock-steady platform on which the music is built. During the set, Black Oak proved they could still rock with anyone, especially on some of its older songs like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Hot And Nasty,” which is exactly as its title suggests.

But the truly impressive part of Black Oak’s snow is the brand new material found on its latest album, “Race With The Devil.” Throughout the evening, Black Oak played five of the eight songs on the album, all with a mixture of flair and Southern-fried energy. The new, improved Black Oak sounds lean mean and hungry. All the fat has been trimmed away leaving a tight, heady outfit with a new direction and some straightforward ideas on how to get there. Basically, the reason the old band was dissolved in favor of this new one is that its members were getting complacent about putting their hearts into the music and Mangrum just couldn’t live with that. So it was onward and upward and if last night’s show was any indication of what Black Oak is now capable of, the sky’s the limit.
The Blue Oyster Cult hit town with a brand new album and one of rock’s finest light shows, both of which were fairly impressive last night. The Cult has also undergone some musical direction changes recently. Though the music was softened up a bit for “Agents Of Fortune ” the new material is a cross between this softness and the old blitz-rock of earlier days.

But strangely enough, the highlights of BOC’s set were the old standards. The group played three songs from its very first album, including the opener, “Stairway To The Stars” and the murderous “Cities On Flame,” which featured some lightning from lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser. The third oldie, “Then Came The Last Days May,” featuring an extended guitar solo, revealed the first major operation of the Cult’s infamous laser light show. As the sharp green laser beams reflected off strategically located mirror balls, the Cult got hotter and hotter, culminating in three monster songs which made a good show almost great. The thumping “Godzilla” featured more extended guitar work and long drum solo by Albert Bouchard made worthwhile by the lasers and strobes. Albert teamed with brother Joe Bouchard on bass to power the group through “Summer Of Love” into a searing, lasered, strobed firebombed climax of “Born To Be Wild.”

BOC returned for an encore of “Dominance And Submission” but didn’t totally satisfy until playing “Don’t Fear The Reaper”, it’s number one single of 1976. The Cult’s light show was impressive and the music itself isn’t bad, but the major complaints against the band remained valid last night. They can get a littler boring by extending things too long at times, and they have no stage show at all. There really isn’t even much energy flowing up there. They were good no doubt about that, but with a little work this show could be one of the best.

BLUE OYSTER CULT DISCOGRAPHY:

1972 Blue Öyster Cult
1973 Tyranny and Mutation
1974 Secret Treaties
1975 On Your Feet or On Your Knees
1976 Agents of Fortune
1977 Spectres
1978 Some Enchanted Evening
1979 Mirrors
1980 Cultösaurus Erectus
1981 Fire of Unknown Origin
1982 Extraterrestrial Live
1983 The Revölution by Night
1986 Club Ninja
1988 Imaginos
1994 Cult Classic
1994 Live 1976
1998 Heaven Forbid
2001 Curse of the Hidden Mirror
2001 St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings
2002 A Long Day’s Night

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2 thoughts on “BLUE OYSTER CULT- “BLUE OYSTER & BLACK OAK””

  1. Interesting comment by the reviewer regarding BOC’s lack of energy. I always felt the band were more about conveying their muscial prowess through a cerebral energy rather than the act of physical movement. I was fortunate to witness them perform the following year in Spokane (near the end of their ‘laser phase’) and can honestly say that it was one of the most mind blowing musical experiences of my adolescence. Of course, on the other hand, having to follow up the musical juggernaut that was Jim Dandy and Black Oak must have been a fairly formidable task.

  2. Thanks for your input Dave! I tend to agree with you, in the 5 times that I saw the B.O.C. (1975-1979) they always blew me away. The Reviewer here states…”the major complaints against the band remained valid last night. They can get a littler boring by extending things too long at times, and they have no stage show at all. There really isn’t even much energy flowing up there”. This would be in complete contrast to my opinions, as I found that the Band had it’s strength in the extensions during the long jams! There was always plenty of energy flowing when I saw them perform…I have heard many people complain that bands don’t “Move Around” enough on stage while performing (Grateful Dead, the Outlaws, Robin Trower,Pink Floyd) but the bottom line is that they are busy creating sound…If a visual comes along with that, then great, but I never held it against a great musician that they didn’t “Move Around” a lot while performing.
    Of course as a Photographer I was always looking for some action on stage other than expressions and fingers moving…But still the most important part of the show was always the Music (to me at least)…


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