Agents Of Fortune
Blue Oyster Cult
Chart Peak: #29
Weeks Charted: 35
Certified Platinum: 7/17/78
Agents of Fortune is startingly excellent album -- startling because one does not expect Blue Oyster Cult to sound like this: loud but calm, manic but confident, melodic but rocking. Every song on the first side is commercially accessible without compromising the band's malevolent stance.
One area of clear improvement is in the matter of lyrics; for the first time there is less emphasis on absurd, crypto-intellectual rambling and more of a coherent attack on a variety of subjects. The former had simply become tiresome; the latter opens up whole new areas for Cult investigation. "This Ain't the Summer of Love," for example, is a fresh approach to a subject one would expect to have been exhausted long ago.
Blue Oyster Cult has built its career on a series of brutal non sequitors. Initially, these took the form of a group image of fascist hoodiness and "ugly" music detailed by AWOL rock critics' wordplay. This time, it is Patti Smith's presence, as co-writer of "Debbie Denise" and "The Revenge of Vera Gemini," that provides the Cult with the aleatory motivation to seek success in the burgeoning commercial punk rock sweepstakes. Another central influence is Allen Lanier's increasing importance, here evidenced by his authorship of "True Confessions" and "Morning Final," and ambitious bomb.
In fact, former major-domos Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman seem to be barely keeping the boys in line, let alone under their aesthetic thumbs. Or maybe that's just what they want us to think, since, with David Lewis, they are credited with producing the record. In any event, it works: Agents of Fortune is a very pleasant surprise, its first side containing some of the best rock released thus far this year.
- Ken Tucker, Rolling Stone, 7-15-76.
- Billboard, 1976.
Just when I figured they were doomed to repeat themselves until the breakup, they come up with the Fleetwood Mac of heavy metal, not as fast as Tyranny and Mutation but longer on momentum, with MOR tongue-in-cheek replacing the black-leather posturing and future games. I wonder how long it took them to do the la-la-las on "Debbie Denise" without cracking up. B+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Nothing Blue Oyster Cult had produced previously prepared listenters for its infectious midtempo hit, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," which propelled it into a higher commercial orbit and caused (or reflected) a change in the balance of power in the group. The song was written by guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser and was an indication that the band was now largely doing its own songwriting: coproducer Sandy Pearlman earned only one co-writing credit on the record, while drummer Albert Bouchard had five. Poetess Patti Smith, meanwhile, not only co-wrote two tracks, but also performed on one: "The Revenge of Vera Gemini." The result was a record much more in a pop-rock vein than the vaunted metal of the first three albums and BOC's biggest hit ever. * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Agents of Fortune is perhaps the most sophisticated metal album ever. "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "E.T.I." are the favorites, but every cut is good. This is also where Patti Smith's (who once had a relationship with BOC guitarist Allen Lanier) presence is strongest. * * * * *
- Steve Holtje, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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