Blue Oyster Cult
Heavy friggin' rock from one of the weirdest bands in history. Blue Oyster Cult are all about the early days of heavy metal, before blurry tempos and dog-whistle vocals. You always get the feeling that the joke is on you with BOC, since these are college-educated smart-asses and fringe members of the Patti Smith literary scene singing about truly dumb stuff: Joan Crawford, Japanese monster movies, UFO's and the Grim Reaper. Getting their start in 1972, BOC were among the first bands on the American Metal bandwagon. They've always been tough to nail down, walking a fine line between big guitar indulgence and pure sarcasm. Guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser's cocky, mullet-headed leads (especially in the live version of "Godzilla" on Some Enchanted Evening) squawk and squiggle with a protean rock power coupled with an uncharacteristic (for Metal) economy. Their best songs always take that Metal cliché to an unbelievable extreme. The final, mock-classical minutes of "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" may have lost their pasquinade punch in the subsequent years of the song's perpetual rotation, but the joke is there in the bombast of those diagonal basslines and the trilling, frantic lead -- the song can go no further at that point, the band having taken it as far as good (or bad, really) taste will allow, and they put on the brakes in the infinitesimal moment before they rock themselves right off the cliff. That's a great moment in rock history and almost nobody got it.