Autobiographical Order No. 283: Blue Oyster Cult – Agents of Fortune

I play guitar. And as a guitar player, I have an uncurable affliction (or should I say, “a fever”): Though it doesn’t happen every time I pick up my instrument, it’ll happen eventually—I will absolutely have to play the riff from Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Yes, I know. What a dork. But c’mon, That song absolutely rules. And honestly it’s pretty undeniable; friends of mine who go well out of their way to avoid the classic ’70s rock canon still love “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” As they should: It’s both a perfect pop song and a great slice of proto-metal with just a brief hint of prog.

The first time I remember hearing “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was on the TV mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand in the early ’90s (anyone else remember that? With Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald? It was actually sort of creepy in the beginning and then got stupid pretty fast, but that’s also fairly reflective of how Stephen King stories devolve into WTF eventually. Also I was a kid at the time so maybe it wasn’t even that creepy). The important thing was that was when I first heard this song and I knew I liked it.

Twenty-five or so years later, I’ve taken a deeper dive into the Blue Oyster Cult catalog and—SNL sketches aside—have come to regard them as a super badass band, and one that I’d actually love to see before they hang it up for good. They’re still touring, though, so it’s not totally out of bounds. But they’ve definitely released some great albums. I wouldn’t necessarily say Agents of Fortune is one of them though. It’s a good album. A fun album! But it’s mostly solid rock songs, nothing on the level of “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” And that’s OK! If I bought the album for this alone, it’d still be worth it. And I did, so there you go. (For about $5 if I recall correctly.) But I never skip tracks. Maybe they’re not mind-blowing, but they’re still pretty fun. And the album art’s pretty cool; notice the magician is fanning out the cards while pointing to the band’s ankh-logo thing. Sleight of hand!

Still, “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was an eye-opening track, and I think I can partially credit it with getting me more interested in classic heavy metal. I played it once at my short-lived metal DJ night and nobody questioned it. Hell yeah.

Rating: 8.3

Sound Quality: Good/Great

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