on 12 December 2001
This was Blue Öyster Cult's third album, and, in retrospect, it seems to complete a sort of trilogy. Released in 1974 it marked the end of an era for the band, although this is only really apparent in hindsight. In 1975 they released their classic live album 'On Your Feet Or On Your Knees', and then threw themselves into a more commercial direction, leaving the type of material that filled their first three releases behind for ever.
'Secret Treaties' contained some of their best material, and was clear evidence of a great band maturing. There were no weak songs on this album (as indeed there weren't on its two predecessors), and songs worthy of special mention are 'Career of Evil', 'The Subhuman', 'Dominance and Submission' (a personal favourite!), 'Harvester of Eyes' and 'Astronomy'.
One of the many crosses that the Blue Öyster Cult had to bear at this time was that of being labelled as a 'sci-fi' rock band, this theory being based on their song titles, although from the time of 'Spectres' onwards they did also embrace this sad rock tradition. But on this album the titles hide songs that are remarkably un-sci-fi. For instance, 'Astronomy' is about a lesbian experience, 'Harvester of Eyes' is about a corrupt US trade union leader, 'Career of Evil' is based on the works of an 18th century French writer, and 'Dominance and Submission' is about a member of the band who witnessed an incestuous sexual act on a car journey.
This album (like the two before it) is an amazing work. The record is not about excess, but rather well crafted songs, cryptic and obtuse lyrics and an image that confused and misled. Many of the songs were based on a concept called 'Imaginos', the creation of their producer and svengali, Sandy Pearlman, which makes sense of much of their imagery too. ('Imaginos' itself is one of the great lost albums of rock, but is really an Albert Bouchard record - but that's another story!)
There are five bonus tracks, one of which is a sanitised single version of 'Career of Evil' and it's b-side 'Born to be Wild' (yes, that one - a BOC concert classic freakout), and three studio out-takes, all of which are interesting songs, but hearing them makes you glad that the band went with their original song selection in 1974.
This album was the peak of Blue Öyster Cult's early development. If you want a taster of what you've been missing, then this is as good a starting point as any. Saddle up your bungo pony, go call on Sir Rastus Bear and crank it up loud!
on 4 September 2001
Not many bands are attributed to releasing a classic album that stands the test of time, but BOC have done it here. From the opening Career of Evil (Patti Smith lyrics) through such gems as Dominance & Submission, ME262, and Harvester of Eyes this album just oozes class. BOC could always come up with better song titles than most bands could entire songs. Buck Dharma's guitar playing is faultless throughout and it's a mystery he never gets the praise he deserves. The icing on the cake has to be the final two tracks, Flaming Telepaths which picks up speed like a downhill runaway train before crashing to a halt for Astronomy, which has to be BOC's finest six and a half minutes ever. It's testament to this album that many of the tracks appear in BOC's live set to this day. The bonus tracks though are pretty much non-essential, although Boorman the Chauffeur is probally the most interesting. So forget nu-metal, buy this. You won't be dissapointed.
on 29 June 2006
This is my favorite of the remastered reissues of the first four Blue Öyster Cult albums which Sony put out on the Columbia/Legacy label. As with the other reissues there are lyrics, photos, and liner notes by Lenny Kaye. In addition, on this release there are five bonus tracks, three of which were previously unreleased. "Secret Treaties" was recorded in 1974 and released in April of that year. As with their first two albums, it was produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman. This remastered CD was released on June 26th of 2001. Bruce Dickinson produced the remastered versions. The album was originally planned to be titled "Power in the Hands of Fools".
For my money "Secret Treaties" is the best of their first three albums (often referred to as their "black-and-white" period). From the opening of "Career of Evil" (their second collaboration with Patti Smith) to the sounds of the wind dying away at the end of "Astronomy" the listener is entranced. Two of the songs on this album ("Astronomy" and "Subhuman") would reappear in different form more than a dozen years later on their "Imaginos" album. The song titles from this album read like a list of concert favorites for BÖC fans with songs like "Dominance and Submission", "ME 262", "Harvester of Eyes", and "Flaming Telepaths" joining those I already mentioned as songs often heard during their live shows. The remaining piece from the original release is the off-beat "Cagey Cretins", which falls short of the rest of the album but doesn't distract too much from the rest.
This remastered CD has five bonus tracks. The first three pieces ("Boorman the Chauffer", "Mommy", and "Mes Dames Sarat") are outtakes from the studio sessions for the album and none of them have been released before. As one might suspect, outtakes from an album this good are definitely worth a listen. The next is a studio version of "Born to Be Wild" which was the B-side for the live "Born to Be Wild" single from their first live album "On Your Feet or On Your Knees". The last bonus track is the single version of "Career of Evil", which has more "radio-friendly" lyrics.
The group consists of Eric Bloom (lead vocals, stun guitar, keyboards), Albert Bouchard (drums, vocals), Joe Bouchard (bass, vocals), Allen Lanier (keyboards, rhythm guitar, all synthesizers), and Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (lead guitar, vocals). The original album is five stars, and the added features of this release do not detract from the original, but instead enhance the experience.
on 28 March 2012
Well the sad thing is that i'm probably preaching to the converted here, but i'm ashamed to say i've only just discovered this album! However if you are, like me, a child of "agents of fortune" and "spectres", then this album is like buying a really nice house, and only afterwards discovering the amazing hidden wine cellar, full of the finest vintage classics!
Agents and Spectres have had, and will always have, a special place in my heart, but "secret treaties" just takes the boc experiance to another level. The songs are full of imagination and intrigue, the music is complex and difficult to pigeon hole, ..which is a good thing!! There are no concessions to comercialism here, as the band bounces you around the entire musical spectrum, never resting on it's laurels, just as you think you know where a song is taking you, it changes direction effortlessly. Haunting and mysterious, with intricate and profound melodies, you just never want to stop listening in case you miss something.
Make no mistake, these guys are musos of the highest calibre, the album is many years ahead of it's time, and I would welcome any pointers as to where to go next with the boc collection, ..although i'll probably just buy the lot!!
If you are pondering whether to buy this or not, then at £4.97, " secret treaties" could, in fact, will be, the best fiver you've ever spent!
on 18 November 2012
I don't know how vast are the sublime talents of Eric Bloom, 'Buck' Dharma and cohorts are but their collective works must define an unknown IQ MENSA has yet to chart; quite possibly extraterrestrial in origin.
Secret Treaties probably is their finest hour so it seems as good a spot as any within their phenomenal portfolio of original masterpieces upon which to exhort the unmatched brilliance at hand.
As I type, Dominance and Submission has just flared into life: for me, this is songwriting as inspired in honey dripping 'eureka' as any of the Lennon/McCartney milestones that only the most willful naysayer would deny.
The difference is just that BÖC are dark, malignant, inherently left field and about as far from populist as it is possible to be.
It is perfectly feasible to conceive of Blue Öyster Cult as the finest (Heavy Rock) band of them all since I can't really think of a less conformist, unflinchingly intense yet properly rocking catalogue of bespoke numbers.
I know this is supposed to be an ode to this 1974 classic but you can jump fourteen years on to Imaginos and the grasp of bizarre, macabre, oddly scaled and 'where is this going' sense of melodic flow resonates just as strong and hasn't loosened in the slightest.
Back to Treaties, however and "must these Englishmen live that I might die?" I mean, just fantastic! It's the kind of off axis, poetic lyricism you have to search long and hard to find, elsewhere, in completely different musical contexts, perhaps Ian Anderson's Jethro Tull, in places, for sheer evocation and imagery.
The dynamic duo share vocal duties and whilst neither lay claim to a Dioesque repertoire, even slightly, the delightfully clear, intelligible nature of both chaps' fairly monotone delivery works superbly to produce an occasionally harmonic, resonant menace that exquisitely partners the stun gun guitar work and sublime rhythm section's lunacy.
Oh, just listen to that: Flaming Telepaths has just surrendered its final charge to the unrestrained beauty of Astronomy.
That we live in a world where albums of this astounding greatness can be so ignored says much about 'the way of things.'
Complex, subtle, fiercely technical, intelligent, exciting and without compromise throughout; Secret Treaties is quite possibly the best Heavy Rock creation the iThetan hordes have never downloaded and that's probably a very good thing.
Heavy Metal fruit, indeed.
on 1 July 2001
It is difficult to decide if this album or the preceding Tyranny & Mutation is the more 'classic' album, but whichever way you look at it, Secret Treaties really is BOC at the peak of their talent for wierd 'n' heavy rock music. If you haven't got it, then without further ado takes steps to remedy the situation! Idiosyncratic, perceptive, sci-fi themes mesh into a tantalising conspiracy concept, that may add a further layer of appreciation to your enjoyment of the album. But in any case, the excellent tunes stand on their own as priceless BOC. Like the other current re-issues, the packaging and sound quality is improved, but here the bonus tracks are fairly non-essential.
on 7 August 2001
There aren't sufficient superlatives to describe this album. I first heard it when I was 16 and it's still my favourite 20 years later, when many other artists have come and gone. There's a musical and lyrical depth to this band that defies description and if you don't have this album then get it. You won't regret it, whatever your taste in rock music. The re-mastering makes it almost complete, short of getting the original line-up back in the studio (you can only hope!). If you've already got the original recording then get this, I did, and it's more than worth it. Blue Öyster Cult set out to record a timeless album and unquestionably succeded .....
on 18 March 2014
I bought this CD a long time ago, when I was trying to get into BÖC. I never did - I don't think I was mature enough at the time, and didn't have enough of an attention span. Thing is, it is a very good album. "ME262" is almost makes it worth it by itself, especially considering how cheap the album is.
I love Boorman the Chauffeur, although that's a bonus track.
As for the rest? Good, but wasn't to my taste. Some of the songs I found a bit disturbing, lyrically, and it's exceptionally difficult to disturb me.
In summary: personally, I would rate this album three stars. But given the audience this is intended for, I have given it four. It is a great album, really! And, like I said, ME262 is almost worth the price of admission alone! Enjoy!
on 26 March 2016
I might be slightly bias in this reveiw, but given that Blue Oyster Cult are one of my favourite bands of all time, I absolutely adore this album - as I do with more or less everything they have ever released. The music is brilliantly crafted, and the lyrics are a treat to listen too, alot of things to be heard on this album and it shows a really solid versatility to the world of BoC's brand of heavy rock music.
on 8 September 2010
Cult by name - Cult by nature. I don't know what it is about this band that sets them apart from many of the other top groups of the time (Zep, Purple, Sabs, Rush etc) but for me personally there has always been a special quality and added depth to their music. Certainly when the classic line up was in place between 1970-81 (yes right from the excellent St Cecilia up to Fire Of Unknown Origin), on an album by album basis their output was peerless.
For my money Secret Treaties is their finest hour, the climax of their first phase when still writing collectively and the perfect mix of arcane lyrics, harmony and effortlessly tasteful riffing (step forward reluctant guitar hero - Buck Dharma).
The many highlights include the pulsating radioactive origin of The Subhuman, the gathering momentum and menace of Dominance and Submission, the spiky central riff of Harvester Of Eyes and of course the keyboard magic of Flaming Telepaths crashing to an abrupt halt before the calmness of the beautiful bittersweet ballad that is Astronomy.
Indeed right from the opening burst of the deliciously cynical Career Of Evil through to the closing four winds of Astronomy this is relentless, classic fare from a talented group of musicians. They were backed by music critics Sandy Pearlman & Richard Meltzer and punk poetess Patti Smith (apparently Smith was close to being the band's lead singer before Bloom signed up - how different things might have been!).
It should grab the listener's attention from the get go but of course while they were named as a Cult as an afterthought (after many aborted monikers) the name that stuck could hardly be more apt. They struggled to get the mass market that came so easily to other bands.
A real shame as this is a pearl of an album waiting for wider recognition and a collective achievement that makes five stars seem inadequate.