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Monday, December 29, 2014

Blue Öyster Cult: A Long Day's Night


1) Stairway To The Stars; 2) Burning For You; 3) OD'd On Life Itself; 4) Dance On Stilts; 5) Buck's Boogie; 6) Quicktime Girl; 7) Harvest Moon; 8) Astronomy; 9) Cities On Flame; 10) Perfect Water; 11) Lips In The Hills; 12) Godzilla; 13) Don't Fear The Reaper.

Okay, one more encore — just because you asked for it so nicely and persistently and obsessive­ly, here is yet another live Blue Öyster Cult album. Everybody knows by now that each cohesive period of this band's existence has to be summarized by a live document, and just because we have moved into a new millennium does not mean that the principle warrants an exception. This one was recorded in Chicago on June 21, 2002 (solstice day!), and came out on CD and DVD; I have not seen the DVD in its completeness, but it is longer by six tracks, all of them from the band's most classic period, so, reasonably, the DVD release is the one you should be more inte­rested in. For marketing purposes, though, the DVD lacks the 10-minute version of ʽAstronomyʼ, including Roeser's most gut-wrenching guitar solo of the entire evening, so if you are a true fan of the salmon salt, you have no choice but to get both.

With Bobby Rondinelli on drums and Danny Miranda on bass as a perfectly reliable and well-involved rhythm section, there is little reason to doubt that the whole thing will be professional and suitably spirited, but what can be said about yet another bunch of live performances of ʽGod­zillaʼ, ʽReaperʼ, ʽCities On Flameʼ etc.? Setlist-wise, much more curious is the inclusion of ʽPerfect Waterʼ from Club Ninja — apparently, the band takes this «retrospective show» concept seriously, leaving no stone unturned; but, as you might have guessed, the live version eschews the evils of Eighties production, and sounds much more like a normal sentimental hard-rocker in Buck Dharma's usual style than a bad reminiscence of 1986. Another surprise is the long-forgot­ten ʽLips In The Hillsʼ from Cultosaurus, with all of its frenzied arpeggiation intact. And the two songs from the band's latest record, while not on the classic level, still align pretty damn well with the classics in style and mood.

Still, all this professionalism can be a bit tiresome — the Rolling Stones, for instance, whose live performances from around 1975 to 1982 had turned into a sometimes exciting and hilarious, but persistently drugged-drunken sloppy mess, later tightened up their act significantly and made the contrast between their «early», «mid-life», and «late» live albums so interesting that most of them are worth owning, for one reason or other. In comparison, these guys just evolved from a tightly professional hard-rock act to a tightly professional arena-rock act to a tightly professional oldies act. Compare the original live performance of ʽBuck's Boogieʼ from 1975 with this one — gene­rally the same stuff, but just a wee bit more «formal» on the 21st century side of the business. Rondinelli gives it a much steadier, but also less youthfully exciting rhythmic base, and Roeser sounds ever so slightly by-the-bookish on it.

In any case, we should not take the record for anything other than what it is — a document of the entertainment potential of this band circa 2002. If you were wondering, back then, whether to attend or not a BÖC show, A Long Day's Night would have suggested «yes» (these days, more than a decade later, with further lineup changes and Lanier dead, I really have no idea). If you have any special personal memories of your own of a late-period BÖC show, here be a memento status, obviously. But other than that, A Long Day's Night is probably not turning into your favorite live album from these guys any time soon — it's got plenty of worthy competition from past decades to render itself superfluous after just one listen. Oh well, at least they keep the silly audience teasing bits in ʽGodzillaʼ on a tight leash this time.

1 comment:

  1. "With Bobby Rondinelli on drums"
    we have a second connection with JLT era Rainbow .... I don't know how much Rondinelli has improved with the years.