Blue Öyster Cult - 'Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014'

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Blue Öyster Cult - 'Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014'

Can sit proudly beside the better live albums from Blue Öyster Cult's fifty-year career.

It's been eighteen long years since Blue Öyster Cult, one of America's finest Hard Rock bands, released their last studio album 'Curse Of The Hidden Mirror'. Recent news filtering out that the group are currently in the studio recording brand-new songs has been enough to send "Cultophiles" into raptures. As they wait patiently, two releases have been lined up to keep them ticking over. One is a re-issue of a long-deleted compilation (reviewed elsewhere), and the other is this, a completely new, previously unreleased live recording from 2014.

'Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014' sees the band in their natural home – up on stage playing live – with original members Eric Bloom (guitar/vocals/keyboards) and Buck Dharma (lead guitar/vocals) joined by Richie Castellano, (guitar/keyboards), Jules Radino (drums) and Utopia's Kasim Sulton (bass). Released as a 2CD/DVD offering, this comprehensive look at Blue Öyster Cult in the twenty-first century features seventeen tracks that span from 'Cities On Flame' (contained on their 1972 self-titled debut) to 'Shooting Shark' (lifted from 'The Revolution By Night' which was released just over ten years later).

The album covers at least one song from each release of that nine-album stretch, generally regarded as their golden era. However, it does mean that later classics like 'Perfect Water' and 'Harvest Moon' are omitted; such are the problems of having a treasure chest of material to pick from.

The sound is punchy and clear with this release, perfectly capturing a Blue Öyster Cult live show, and it also highlights the contrasting vocal styles of the rather abrasive Hard Rock of Bloom against the more laid-back melodic tones of Dharma. However, it's the combination of them together that creates their signature sound.

Of course, the expected hits are all present and naturally they sound great, but it's the deeper cuts – such as the dramatic 'The Vigil', the wonderful mini Biker Rock Opera of 'Golden Age Of Leather' and the sleek 'Black Blade' – that show the depth of the group's repertoire. Even better are 'Then Came The Last Days Of May' and 'I Love The Night'; this pair of gold-plated classics are drenched in sublime melodies, and they both feature some wonderful guitar work by Dharma.

There have certainly been a few live records from this band over the years, some better than others; but 'Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014' can sit proudly beside the better live albums from Blue Öyster Cult's fifty-year career.

Mick Burgess

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