022: Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties (1974)
“I remember one time we had to do an interview in the dressing room after a gig. ... The reporter walks into the dressing room, looks at us and says: ‘What’s going on here? Is this a set-up?’ I said: ‘What do you mean?’ And he says: ‘Well, you’re all reading books!’”
Yeah, yeah, we know, I got a fever, yadda yadda. At this point, Blue Öyster Cult are probably best known for the 2000 Saturday Night Live sketch “More Cowbell,” where Christopher Walken repeatedly demands that the band play up the faint cowbell in their 1975 hit single “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and we all had a good laugh. But the sketch barely scratches the surface of the fascinating, strange depths of BÖC’s music. The band started off as basically a vessel for the vision of rock critic Sandy Pearlman, who filled their lyrics with convoluted mythology and gave the band rock music’s very first decorative umlaut. And despite their goal of being “the American Black Sabbath,” BÖC didn’t really sound like any rock music of the time, to the point where Eric Bloom could call his rhythm guitar “stun guitar” and nobody would think to ask why. In this episode, Phil leads Dan, Mike, and Rich through Secret Treaties, the pinnacle of the band as a cohesive vision, featuring a lyrical cameo by Patti Smith and the story of a U.S. Supreme Court justice who steals people’s eyeballs. You know, like people do.
Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer both used to write for Crawdaddy, an influential New York-based magazine (before “zine” was a word, and then no longer a word) credited with bringing increasing critical attention to the study of rock music. You can read individual articles on Paste magazine’s website, and for some reason a Macintosh consulting services website has archived a bunch of issues from 1966-1968, so download them while you can.
Other examples of decorative metal umlauts include Motörhead, Queensrÿche, Mötley Crüe, Hüsker Dü, and Spın̈al Tap.
Dan mistakenly said “Searchin’ for Denise” when he meant “Searching’ for Celine.” Sorry, Celine.
That nifty music box leading into “Flaming Telepaths” turns out to be an excerpt from a waltz called “Waves of the Danube” by Ion Ivanovici.
The infamous Scott Stapp vs. 311 brawl happened in 2005. It started with someone throwing a wadded-up napkin and ended with Stapp in a cast.
Noted Blue Öyster Cult fan Stephen King used a few lines from “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” as an epigraph in The Stand. Other artists he used in that book include Country Joe and the Fish, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Paul Simon, and Bruce Springsteen.
SNL's "More Cowbell" sketch (YouTube)
A very colorful two-part 2000 interview with Richard Meltzer (Jason Gross, Perfect Sound Forever)
Discord & Rhyme roll call
Phil Maddox (host)
Rich Bunnell (moderator)
Secret Treaties tracklist
Career of Evil
Dominance and Submission
Harvester of Eyes
Other clips used
Blue Öyster Cult:
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper
Burnin’ for You
Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll
She’s as Beautiful as a Foot
7 Screaming Diz-Busters
Blue Öyster Cult
Astronomy (Imaginos version)
Hugh Masekela - Grazing in the Grass
Metallica - Astronomy
Throbbing Gristle - Subhuman
The Ramones - We’re a Happy Family
Espers - Flaming Telepaths
Radio Birdman - Aloha Steve & Danno
Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip
Blue Öyster Cult:
The Revenge of Vera Gemini
Searchin’ for Celine
Then Came the Last Days of May
Rockapella - Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
Frank Zappa - I’m the Slime
The Beatles - Glass Onion
Iron Maiden - The Wicker Man
The Beatles - I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
The Beatles - A Day in the Life
Secret Treaties personnel
Eric Bloom – vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards
Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser – lead guitar
Allen Lanier – keyboards, rhythm guitar, synthesizers, second lead guitar on track 11
Joe Bouchard – bass, vocals
Albert Bouchard – drums, vocals
Sandy Pearlman – production, lyrics (tracks 2-4, 7-8)
Murray Krugman – production
Tim Geelan, Jerry Smith – engineering
Lehman Yates, Lou Schlossberg – recording
Richard Meltzer – lyrics (tracks 5-6)
Patti Smith – lyrics (track 1)
“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:
Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste
The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Herbie Hancock - Hornets
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen
Blue Öyster Cult - Astronomy (this episode only)
You can buy or stream Secret Treaties and other albums by Blue Öyster Cult at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon [affiliate link]. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Phil @pamaddox, Rich @zonetrope, Dan @DanSWatkins, and Mike isn’t on Twitter - the neighbor’s cat chased him off. Thanks to Rich for editing and Mike for production, as well as explaining the agricultural origins of the cowbell. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.