35 Years Ago: Blue Oyster Cult Release ‘Some Enchanted Evening’
Blue Oyster Cult released their second live album, the aptly named ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ in September 1978 and proceeded to rack up the biggest record sales of their storied career. Not bad for a band that had spent much of their career to that point intentionally cloaking themselves in mystery while challenging listeners with oftentimes obscure or downright controversial lyrics.
Indeed, for the first half of the 1970s, few could confidently put a finger on just what made this Long Island-spawned quintet tick. Their first three albums (often grouped as the band’s “black & white trilogy”) helped introduce heady lyrics - half post-beat poetry, half cod-occultism - into hard rock’s thematic toolbox, and established BOC’s reputation as the “thinking man’s heavy metal band.” Then their next two, ‘1976’s ‘Agents of Fortune’ and ’77’s ‘Spectres,’ flipped the script by producing unexpected mainstream hit singles out of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ and ‘Godzilla,’ respectively.
All that was left to do now was capitalize on this breakthrough with a unit-shifting live album, and while that meant contradicting many of the anti-establishment philosophies that inspired the band in the first place, you can bet your ‘hook-and-cross’ logo that their bottom-line-conscious record label, Columbia Records, would not be denied this chance to finally recoup some of their investment in BOC.
As a result, ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ (which, incidentally, was recorded not in one night, but over multiple concerts in the first half of 1978) captured Blue Oyster Cult at their arena rock peak: kicking things off with the shockingly direct rousing cry of ‘R U Ready 2 Rock’ (calling Prince!) and making sure to include crackling live renditions of both of the aforementioned hits. But the band also added two, less obvious but no less spectacular originals in ‘E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)’ and ‘Astronomy,' along with a pair of sufficiently unconventional covers in the MC5’s eternal ‘Kick Out the Jams’ and The Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Out of this Place.’
To many, this well-balanced combination of material produced the ultimate Blue Oyster Cult LP, but for the band ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ sadly signaled their career’s commercial crest, and beginning with the following year’s disappointing studio effort, ‘Mirrors,’ their hard-won mystique appeared to have been shattered by this very taste of success. Never again would the “heavy metal band for people who hate heavy metal” recover its creative mojo quite like this, but their fans will always have the memories.