40 Years Ago: Blue Oyster Cult Search for Identity on ‘Spectres’
Released in November 1977 and remembered mostly for the classic "Godzilla," Spectres found Blue Oyster Cult trying to find their identity after finally hitting the big time.
Under the name the Stalk Forest Group, the band recorded an LP for Elektra Records in 1970 that never saw the light of day until a few decades later. A name change to the equally mysterious Blue Oyster Cult and a signing to Columbia Records set them on the right path.
They released their debut album in 1972, which was quickly followed by the equally marvelous Tyranny and Mutation in 1973 and Secret Treaties in 1974. Their next studio effort, Agents of Fortune, was the band's big breakthrough. The single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" became a radio smash throughout 1976 and remains the band's signature song.
Blue Oyster Cult, pressured for a follow-up, then made the somewhat unbalanced, but still striking, Spectres. "Godzilla" stormed out of the gate at radio, but failed to chart as a single. One of the album's greatest moments came with the beautiful "I Love the Night," which captures the dark, haunting side of the band beautifully. Both these songs still show up on classic-rock radio, but the bulk of the album now seems forgotten.
Still, songs like "R.U. Ready to Rock" and "The Golden Age of Leather" are straight-up rockers, while "Goin' Through the Motions" closes in on near power-pop territory. Meanwhile, "Nosferatu" and "Celestial the Queen" try to recapture elements of the band's first album, but ultimately fall short.
Even though the album barely dented the Top 40, fans loved it and it quickly became a million seller. The band's reputation as a live act only continued to grow, but it would be another four years until they would score another big hit with the single "Burnin' for You."