There are a lot of genuinely superb rock bands that came from the late sixties. The 70s and 80s were full of up-and-coming bands enjoying great success and touring the world to bring rock to everyone. However, not all of those bands would become lasting household names and eventually spawn their own Saturday Night Live skit. Blue Oyster Cult was and remains one of the most out-there, delightfully dark, and all-around odd rock bands ever. Though they tackle other subjects with ease, the influence of science fiction on their work is clearly felt, and it adds a unique depth to this band’s discography. Here are the ten best Blue Oyster Cult songs of all time.
10. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
Extra Terrestrial Intelligence is from the 1976 album Agents of Fortune, which went platinum. As an introduction to the band’s work, this is as good a place to begin as any. The overarching theme of science fiction and mysticism that runs through most of BOC’s work is definitely present here. They were ahead of their time because, while science fiction has been around for hundreds of years, the modern rise in popularity began around the time E.T. came out in 1982.
9. Black Blade
Black Blade comes from the Cultosaurus Rex album of 1980. Eric Bloom and sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock worked together on this song. The same year, Blue Oyster Cult toured with Black Sabbath in the infamous Black and Blue Tour. Though around a million and a half fans came out to see the various shows on the tour, only one went down in history as a riot. On October ninth, 1980, the tour stopped Milwaukee’s MECCA (the Milwaukee Exposition Convention Center Arena). Things went awry for the two bands. Ultimately, around nine thousand people ended up rioting. Riot or not, the tour was mostly successful. However, as Dangerous Minds shows in a newspaper clip, MECCA banned hard-rock shows for a while
8. Transmaniacon MC
Transmaniacon MC is the opening track on Blue Oyster Cult’s 1972 debut album, which was also called Blue Oyster Cult. Going forward, most of this band’s music would be much more fictional than this incredible debut song. However, they made a statement by writing about a famous musical incident in 1969. The Rolling Stones Altamont Free Concert was supposed to be a fantastic event, with security by the Hells Angels M.C. Unfortunately, what happened was the death of four people, the most famous of which was Meredith Hunter. The event was called “Rocks Darkest Day”.
7. Career of Evil
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith wrote the lyrics for Career of Evil. The some is a disturbing and dark musical exploration of a person who has no moral compass and literally makes his career out of doing evil. Despite the excellence of this track, it never charted, and we feel it was highly underrated.
The Blue Oyster Cult logo is a stylized astronomical sign for Saturn, so it only makes sense that a song called Astronomy would make the top ten list. Though the exact meaning of the lyrics is often debated, they are beautiful regardless. The most popular interpretation is that it’s an occult explanation for the onset of World War I, thanks to an interview Sandy Pearlman did with Kerrang magazine back in 1988.
5. Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll
Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll was Blue Oyster Cult’s debut single from their first album. It was a solid choice that showed the world that they were serious rock musicians who could bring a sense of rock culture to the stage. Most great rock bands from that era have a song like Cities about how cool rock and roll is. Doing this song style was part of being a rock musician in the 70s and 80s. Other prominent examples include the Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane, Joan Jett, and the Blackhearts I Love Rock and Roll, Kiss Rock and Roll All Night, Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin, and It’s A Long Way To The Top If Ya Wanna Rock N Roll by AC/DC to name just a few.
4. Veteran of the Psychic Wars
Veteran of the Psychic wars is one of the strangest and most thought-provoking Blue Oyster Cult songs. This song tells the story of a survivor from literal wars fought with the powers of the mind. It is also a powerful metaphor for how we battle many things in life without ever pulling a physical weapon to fight.
3. Burnin’ For You
In July of 1982, Burnin For You was released as the lead single for BOC’s eighth album. The song was an instant hit with fans, and even critics had good things to say about it. While the music retains the classic sound that makes Blue Oyster Cult one of the true legends of rock, the content is more a love song than a science fiction masterpiece.
Godzilla is precisely what it sounds like, a song about Godzilla. Decades before there were modern monster movie remakes, this brilliant band showed the cult classic the love it deserved. Godzilla isn’t deep and thought-provoking. It is a loud, fun to hear song about Godzilla. “Oh, no. There Goes Tokyo! Go, go, Godzilla, yeah!”
1. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
There is no question which song is the best, most well-known Blue Oyster Cult song of all time. This hard and soft tune was featured in Stephen King’s The Stand. The Reaper has been played, replayed, sampled, and featured so many times we couldn’t count them. Although you’ve probably heard this song a hundred times, it is a timeless classic and always worth listening to again.
Saturday Night Live fans will know the cry of ‘More Cowbell!” as well as they know Blue Oyster Cult’s number one hit Don’t Fear The Reaper. However, if you missed the joke there’s still plenty of time to catch up. When you finish listening to the top ten best Blue Oyster Cult songs of all time, check out the rest of their trippy, often sci-fi-inspired collection.