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Blue Oyster Cult – Live In The West 1975 Definitive Edition (Zodiac 334)

Live In The West 1975 Definitive Edition (Zodiac 334)

Civic Auditorium Redding, CA, USA – July 3, 1975; Paramount Northwest Theater, Portland, OR, USA – July 4, 1975; Paramount Northwest, Seattle Theater, WA, USA – July 5, 1975

Disc 1 (48:14) Intro, Stairway To The Stars, O.D.’d On Life Itself, Harvester Of Eyes, Flaming Telepaths, Dominance And Submission, Subhuman, 7 Screaming Diz-Busters

Disc 2 (46:34) Astronomy, Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll, Bucks Boogie, Hot Rails To Hell, Maserati GT (I Ain’t Got You)

Among Blue Oyster Cult fans the Black And White era was their best, something that certainly minimizes the rest of their career after 1975. The music contained on their debut, Tyranny And Mutation, and Secret Treaties is filled with great riffs and melodies coupled with interesting thought provoking lyrics of alien imagery and secret organizations that still resonates among listeners some 45 years later. The finale of the Black And White era was the band’s first live album On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, a double record released in early 1975 culled from several shows in mid to late 1974 in New York, Portland, Seattle, Long Beach, and New Jersey. Blue Oyster Cult were a live band, the recordings found on the record certainly confirmed that opinion and while the band would release other live records, the first always seems to hold that special place in ones mind.

Perhaps that is why this new release, from the Zodiac label, was a pleasant surprise for me. I missed the first pressing of the In The West bootleg years back and have been on a search for it for some time. The origin of these recordings is not clear, supposedly the band made a mix tape of several concerts for themselves and friends and this origin may hold credence. This is obviously not a “professional” job, sure the recordings are superbly mixed soundboard recordings yet the editing between songs sounds like they took some from here, some from there, the timbre of the recordings sound similar so it’s difficult to deduce what is from where. Make no mistake, this means nothing, the music found on this CD is of excellent quality, sound is clear and powerful and is on par with an official release. This recording demands it to be played at loud volume.

“All right you dogs…On your feet or on your knees…here they come from New York City the Amazing Blue Oyster Cult…” with an intro like that you know you’re ready for something good. Stairway To The Stars from the debut record is the opener, a faithful rendition to the original with a good live feel. O.D.’d on Life Itself follows, the recording not broken. There is a cut in the recording between O’D’d and Harvester of Eyes, and the bass is a little deeper on the latter so one can assume we are in a different venue, Allen Lanier sounds like he has synthesizers at his disposal and the version of Eyes is a little loose. Things tighten up for Flamming Telepaths, nice and tight this song is BOC perfection and the band have no issues delivery on the trademark harmonies, Laniers Synth work sounds fresh and the Brothers Bouchard provide a solid rhythm section.

Dominance and Submission is a classic, the Sandy Pearlman lyrics of dark forces, more Rock and Roll than perverse, superb playing on this, Buck’s leads flow effortless Albert’s drumming is incredible, super tight and heavy. After that onslaught the beginning of Subhuman sounds almost Jazzy, almost double in length of the studio version one of Eric Bloom’s most interesting musical pieces, almost progressive in musical style and expansive in the live setting. An epic 13 and a half minute version of 7 Screaming Diz-Busters, the song has a proto Speed Metal feel to it yet leaves room for improvisation. The interaction between Buck and Joe in quite impressive, Buck tries to leave him in the dust but can’t seem to shake him. During his mid song Lucifer rap, Eric mentions Seattle so Dominance through Diz-Busters are all from the July 5 performance.

Astronomy is perhaps Blue Oyster Cult’s most revered songs, written by Joe and Albert with some lyrical contribution from Sandy Pearlman, the song has a dreamlike quality which is expanded in the live setting, Buck uses an echo effect to great measure. During his introduction to Cities On Flame, Albert states Seattle is one of his favorite cities to play and while the very beginning starts disjointed the band quickly get in the groove and deliver a heavy version of the song, Alan’s synth gives an interesting texture. We stay in Seattle for Buck’s Boogie, the song made its first appearance on the rare 1972 live promo EP so it’s a song that has been in the live set since the inception of BOC. The song is an instrumental shuffle sounding like a Metal version of an Allman Brothers song, this is also a vehicle for an Albert drum solo as well.

We move to Portland, Oregon for Hot Rails to Hell, Alan is playing an organ for this song which gives that little bit of retro creepiness, Joe handles lead vocals on the song of which he wrote. Many may not know that while he played bass in BOC, he is actually an accomplished guitarist. I have met him a few times, along with his brother Albert when they where playing with Blue Coupe (along with Alice Cooper alum Dennis Dunaway). Blue Oyster Cult have always payed homage to Calvin Carter and certainly the Yardbirds with Maserati GT (I Ain’t Got You), they infect the song with a bit of Metal yet somehow it remains faithful to the original. The band goes into the Buck’s Boogie coda like the On Your Feet version.

The packaging retains the original In The West 1975 artwork, live shots superimposed over the On Your Feet front and back cover. Some super cool live shots inside, picture CD’s, sticker, the whole kit and caboodle so to speak. With the original In The West 1975 being long out of print, here is an alternative to the original, is it definitive, I don’t own the original but can attest to this certainly being a contender. When this CD arrived I instantly put it in the CD player and it’s been steadily in my home and car stereo, just a superb release. This CD goes well with On Your Feet and is like a companion to it, and in some ways the sound is actually better than it, I cannot give this CD a higher rating, simply a must have. 

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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