Blue Oyster Cult - Agents of Fortune (1976): Last year, friends of mine insisted I HAD to see this hilarious skit on Saturday Night Live. It was referred to as the "cowbell skit." I finally saw it on tape: It's Christopher Walken as producer of this Blue Oyster Cult album. He calls for more and more cowbell in "Don't Fear The Reaper." I didn't find it hilarious, it was barely amusing. Worse, the SNL writers didn't do their research. Walken's character is named "Bruce Dickinson," but as all Clash fans know, Sandy Pearlman was the producer of the classic BOC mid-seventies albums. (He also produced the Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope.) Bruce Dickinson is the name of Iron Maiden's lead singer, so apparently the SNL people figured all heavy metal people are the same. I guess you shouldn't expect much from writers whose jokes are telegraphed well before the ten o'clock news is over. Anyway ... of note on this album are the two songs co-written by Patti Smith. (Fans of the punk priestess always act surprised when I mention 'em. Hmmmm.) Most notable is her haunting vocal on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini." The refrain of the tune goes: No more Horses - thereby dissing her debut album of a year earlier. Weird. (Apology to SNL fans: Sorry I didn't repeat myself five times in this paragraph.)
The Alarm (EP) (1983): There was a time when some of us thought bands like U2, Big Country, and the Alarm were going to save rock 'n' roll from that horrid early-eighties "New British Invasion" made up of wussies like Culture Club, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and Duran Duran. The Alarm debuted with an EP of anthemic-chorus, Clash-influenced guitar noise and put out a couple of good albums after this release. They then began trying to do whatever U2 was doing at the time. If you thought U2's attempts at blues were weak, give a shot at listening to the Alarm trying to sound like U2 screwing the blues. (Yep - even worse than "When Love Comes To Town"!) I'm not sure whatever happened to these guys and I'm too lazy to go to allmusic.com to find out - but maybe they'll play the Rock in Maplewood soon!
Iggy & The Stooges - Metallic 'KO (1976): I'm still waiting for some punk rocker to explain to me why this isn't titled Punk 'KO, but I usually assume most punkers are too busy coming up with another rule about or against something to bother with me.
Paul Revere & The Raiders - Something Happening (1968): This album screams "ego trip." All songs written by Mark Lindsay. Arranged and produced by Mark Lindsay. Also, on the cover, the band is actually billed as Paul Revere & The Raiders Featuring Mark Lindsay. I'm not sure on the details, but sometime in the mid-to-late sixties Mark Lindsay staged a coup of the Raiders. All the original members were replaced except for Paul Revere, who was needed for 1) Name recognition, and 2) His humiliation on the part of Lindsay. My guess is that Lindsay had something to blackmail Paul Revere with, probably photos of him in a compromised position. It was all payback for Lindsay being referred to as Revere's "bun boy" in "Legend of Paul Revere," the bonus track on their Greatest Hits. Anyway, this album isn't nearly as good as the garage-punk knockout singles that made them famous. Lots of it is psychedelia-influenced hackwork in which Lindsay tries to be deep. Some of the straight pop stuff ain't bad, but it ain't "Kicks" or "Louie Go Home" either. While tracking this, I emailed a friend to say that this album would be funny if it weren't so sad. Then I noticed that "Observation From Flight 285 (In ¾ Time)" is actually Elliott Smith before Elliott Smith was even born. Now that's funny.
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