The Columbia Albums Collection (2012)
16 CDs + 1 DVD
40 page Booklet
+ 4 Live Concerts (download)
Many of the albums come with extra tracks. The Remastering is stunning especially on ‘On Your Feet Or On Your Knees’ and ‘Imaginos”
I’ve had this for a while now, and it is one of my favorite box sets. It comes in a nice sturdy, glossy box and includes all the albums from the first one right through to Imaginos and also some discs with some Rarities on as well. It’s quite expensive now. I managed to get it for about £50, but it really is worth tracking down if you’re a Blue Oyster Cult Fan or want to really get a good feel for the band from the beginning of their career.
In the CD box Set is a booklet, and these are becoming really rare now. A lot of these complete album collections are coming out with just the vinyl replica sleeves with no information whatsoever. The Blue Oyster Cult one comes with a great booklet which goes through the history of the band with lots of photos, but more importantly, it goes into absolute trainspotter detail about all the credits behind each album they made. The first few albums that were originally released before they put the box set together all came with lots and lots of extra tracks which are all worth hearing.
The first album, just called Blue Oyster Cult, includes classics like ‘She’s as Beautiful as a Foot’, ‘Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll’, and it’s also where ‘Then Came the Last Days of May’ comes from. You also get the bonus tracks with this, all the Soft White Underbelly demos, which is what they were called before Blue Oyster Cult. Then you’ve got Tyranny and Mutation, Secret Treaties, On Your Feet or On your Knees, which I’ll cover in a bit more detail, and some photos from, apparently, the inner sleeve from that album, which isn’t on my UK vinyl addition, Agents of Fortune, Spectres, Some Enchanted Evening, which also comes with the DVD, Mirrors, Cultosaurus Erectus, Fire of Unknown Origin, Extraterrestrial Live, The Revolution by Night, Club Ninja, Imaginos, and a couple of discs with Rarities on as well, so a good booklet that actually gives lots of information.
The box set also comes with something which is unique to this box, which is four live concerts which you can download using a code, you’re only allowed to do it once.
You’ve got concerts from 1980, 1981, 1983, and 1986. These are all interesting because they feature tracks from the respective albums of that time, which aren’t available on any of the official live albums. The sound quality on all of these is fantastic.
The discs themselves all come in little miniature vinyl sleeves. The first album is what is known as the black-and-white period because they were all in black and white. Tyranny and Mutation, which has tracks on it like Hot Rails To Hell and the studio version of 7 Screaming Diz-Busters.
The first real classic album is Secret Treaties from 1974. A lot of the tracks on this album still appear in their live set, so Astronomy, Harvester of Eyes, Dominance and Submission, Subhuman, Career of Evil. These are all classic tracks, and the remastering is very good.
Talking of the remastering, that brings me to this. One of the definitive live double albums from the 1970s released in 1975. On Your Feet or On Your Knees by the Blue Oyster Cult is a classic double album. It’s warts and all. It’s a bit rough around the edges, I’ve got this on vinyl and the first issued CD, but this, the remastering on this particular version is absolutely stunning. When you hear The Last Days of May and the actual guitar sound on Harvester of Eyes, Subhuman, and 7 Screaming Dix-Busters, it’s just absolutely phenomenal. To me, it was worth buying the box for the remastered version of this album. It really is that good. This summed up the whole of that black-and-white period, those first few albums. This is classic Blue Oyster Cult.
Then they became famous with Don’t Fear the Reaper from the album Agents of Fortune, which I have to say comes with a little mini gatefold sleeve, but it didn’t really do that much for me. I kind of never really engaged with this album that much. Obviously, I like that track, Don’t Fear the Reaper, but it was the album after that, Spectres, where I really, really felt that the Cult were worth following. This has got some great tracks on it, Godzilla, Golden Age of Leather, R. U. Ready to Rock, and the absolutely emotive song about a vampire called I Love the Night and Nosferatu, absolutely brilliant track. The bonus tracks on Spectres are also very, very good.
Then comes another live album called Some Enchanted Evening. This comes with a DVD from the tour, so this is a double set. This comes with lots of extra tracks because the original album was a single album. They’ve enlarged it to be a double live album with the DVD. The DVD is worth watching historically, but to me, it’s not quite as good as On Your Feet or On Your Knees, but it does sum up tracks from Spectres and Don’t Fear the Reaper period.
Then the band got a little bit lost and made Mirrors, which is quite commercial. There is a track called The Vigil on here and also Dr. Music, which is very good, but they seemed to lose their way a little bit on this, and so it’s not my favorite album.
Then with the resurgence of heavy metal in the UK, they came back with this, Cultosaurus Erectus, which has got some good tracks on it, The Marshall Plan and Black Blade.
Then they strayed more into AOR territory with Fire of Unknown Origin. There’s some good stuff on here actually, really, really good, Veteran of the Psychic Wars. I mean what a name for a track that is and which obviously leans towards Hawkwind.
Then yet another live album. Again, it’s a double called Extraterrestrial Live. It’s okay. There’s some good stuff on it, but it’s not definitive to me. It’s got Hot Rails to Hell on it, Cities on Flame, which had be done better elsewhere, but it does have Godzilla, Dr. Music, Black Blade, etc on it, so not bad. They’d started doing Roadhouse Blues by The Doors at this stage, which is not my favorite cover version.
Then an album which a lot of people absolutely dismiss as being one of their worst, The Revolution By Night, but to me, this is brilliant, especially what was side one, Take Me Away, Eyes on Fire, Shooting Shark, Veins, Shadow of California. It’s absolute classic to me, produced by Bruce Fairbairn. This is a fantastic Blue Oyster Cult album. It really is.
Then they again tripped up with Club Ninja, which is not quite up there with the other stuff, and then they vanished for a bit. They came back with this Imaginos, which I think started off as a solo album for one of them, and then it became a full-blown Blue Oyster Cult album. I’ve got this on vinyl, and it’s way too long for vinyl. It’s over a half an hour each side. I bought it on CD, and it sounds really muffled. Then this was remastered, and this version is absolutely stunning. It’s got to be one of the best albums they made.
Next to On Your Feet or On Your Knees, this is really, really heavy stuff, great riffs, fantastic playing with tracks like I Am the One You Warned Me Of, In the Presence of Another World, fantastic tracks. It even has a track called Blue Oyster Cult on it. There is a new version of Astronomy on it. It’s a concept album, and it really is good. This, if you can’t find the box set, find this. This is classic Blue Oyster Cult. It’s one of the best rock albums from the ’80s as far as I’m concerned. It really is that good.
Then we have two discs of Rarities. One’s called The Best of the Broadcasts, which basically gives you stuff right through their career. Some of these tracks are actually on those free downloads that you get. Then you get Rarities. This, again, has got some great tracks on it, as you can probably see, going back right through the ’70s and the ’80s, but some really good stuff.
This Complete Albums Box Set is highly recommended if you are a Blue Oyster Cult fan.