Like so many US news sites, that one is now "blocked" in many European countries, mine included, so I couldn't get to see it... :-(
But I've been collecting old BOC reviews from "provincial" newspapers for the Hot Rails site for a while now, and for every decent review, there's been ten either "yikes" or else just "so-so" ones... it's a wonder BOC ever sold a ticket whilst coming up, if they had the press to rely on... you'd often find that the newspapers would send their "special" gardening or cookery correspondents along to review the shows, and you could just tell they already liked whoever the other band on the bill was and so gave them prominence...
For example, here's another BOC/UFO review I recently came across (this one from the San Bernardino Sun, 15 Aug 1978) and it won't cheer Buck up any, but it does show what BOC were up against:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Blue Oyster Cult Packs Them In - Again by Mark Lundahl, Special to the Sun-Telegram
SAN BERNARDINO - A sold out Swing Auditorium crowd was dealt another numbing blow Sunday night from a lumbering giant of heavy rock, Blue Oyster Cult.
Also featured in San Bernardino's first big time rock concert in two months were rising bands UFO and The British Lions.
At times familiarity breeds boredom, and I am afraid this is the case with Blue Oyster Cult. This is the third time the East Coast band has trekked through Swing Auditorium in the past two years. The last visit was only eight months ago. The old "Cult" has learned no new tricks, and its stage show remains the same.
Sunday's set started with an invigorating flourish supported by the best sound system the group has ever brought with them. Blue Oyster Cult sounded brighter and cleaner than at anytime before. The group's mature brand of hard rock was executed well, and the crowd voiced an enthusiastic approval.
Blue Oyster Cult has managed to get away from its original menacing stance of hard rock and leather, and is now well entrenched in a slicked down style that mixes softer textures with the usual heavy metal assault.
The band has been able to broaden its audience this way. But while a few of these newer numbers are very good (prime example is "Don't Fear the Reaper"), most are rather anonymous and listless, hampered by mediocre singing and indulgent soloing.
Sunday's set was revamped a bit to place a greater emphasis on the newer selections. As a result, a few of the old raucous concert favorites (eg. "Buck's Boogie" and "Cities on Flame") were dropped from the line-up.
The concert started out promising, but not even a $200,000 laser show which would give a sober man hallucinations, could keep the set from miring in mediocrity. The band plays very well, but does not have enough original musical ideas to sustain much interest.
More successful was the group billed as UFO. This British quintet has just begun to make some progress on the climb to rock stardom. It is very possible that the band will make it big someday soon. They are a sharp-looking outfit, and have a very appealing sound that is close in nature to bands like "Styx" and "Kansas".
Like Blue Oyster Cult, UFO has broadened its musical attack in its quest for a larger following. The band's first albums were almost purely hardcore rock. The last two records contain some ballads that are perfectly balanced in texture and tension.
Two of these numbers ("Love to Love" and "Cherry") were the highlights of UFO's set. The songs are gentle and lyrical, but have strong, full power chords to punch their essence through. They are also beautiful vehicles for Phil Mogg's expressive lead vocals.
When the band decides to rock, it's at a galloping pace. "Light's Out" and "Doctor Doctor" hurdled new sound barriers, with the searing guitar work of German Michel Schenker leading the way.
UFO is an intelligent band. Its brand of progressive rock is loaded with tension, dynamics, clarity, and musicianship. It is, however, not a unique brand of music. Without continued inspiration, there is a distinct possibility that UFO might one day cure insomnia as Blue Oyster Cult does now. For now, though, the band has a fresh sound and a bright future.
Opening the show were The British Lions, a group made up of refugees from the much heralded band, Mott the Hoople, with the addition of John Fiddler (from "Medicine Head ").
The British Lions have retained the basic Mott the Hoople sound. It's a rowdy brand of barroom rock and roll that makes good use of power chords and Morgan Fisher's distinctive piano. But the band lacks a focal figure to hold their show together. Ian Hunter did that for Mott. The British Lions are still developing their aura.
The band rushed through a good selection of original tunes, and capped their set with a novel rock and roll medley that included the Byrd's "So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star," the Stones' "It's Only Rock and Roll," and The Sex Pistols" "Pretty Vacant." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It should be noted that Mark Lundahl produced "reviews" of all the BOC gigs that passed through San Bernardino in the mid to late 70's, and he never missed the chance to slate them. He just didn't like BOC: he didn't like the songs, he didn't like Eric's vocals, basically, he objected to BOC's participation in any gig whatsoever. That apart, he was always fair and objective...
And yet, even by his own headline here, BOC "still packed them in"... weird that... :-)
>REVIEW: UFO gives otherworldly ‘farewell’ show at Penn’s Peak, but Blue Oyster Cult fails to blast off
Yet one man’s opinion can be the medium between knowledge and ignorance. ~ Plato
Given my personal life long experience in seeing countless BOC shows, I put zero credibility in this guys review. It reads to me that he got lazy taking notes and paying real attention after the UFO show ended.
Apparently, his attention span and work effort is as weak as his “rock critic” game..
For Ralph, the review. I don't recall ever being so thoroughly poo-poo'd by a critic. : )
By John J. Moser
If, as English rock band UFO has intimated, its current 50th anniversary tour will be its last, then it went out in an otherworldly way Friday with its show at Penn’s Peak near Jim Thorpe.
It gave a concert that not only displayed how strongly it has influenced heavy metal and other rock forms, but showed how aging rockers can continue to rock with strength and dignity.
When the band announced its current run of shows in February, it said that vocalist Phil Mogg, 71, who helped form the band in London in 1969 and has been its only constant member, will retire after the tour. “Consequently, it seems almost certain that at that point they will cease to exist,” the band said.
And from the start of its 11-song, 70-minute show, it seemed UFO was doing its best to make every moment of the show count.
It opened with “Mother Mary,” displaying its classic rock prowess -- the squiggly guitar lines it helped create, the powerful force of the music and the strong solo by guitarist Vinnie Moore, who was exceptional all night.
It was part of a Rostetta Stone of rock elements that UFO has influenced in the past half-century. The more recent “Burn Your House Down” showed the style that influenced a generation of 1980s metal and hair bands. The speeding an rolling “Lights Out,” the title track to the band’s biggest U.S. album, showed how its sound was even a contemporary of Led Zeppelin.
For the first few songs, especially on the second song, “We Belong to the Night,” Mogg’s vocals were clearly more constrained -- one reason he has given for his impending retirement. But after a few more songs the vocals had warmed to full power. The 1993 single “Venus,” was slower and more intense, with Moore playing both acoustic and electric guitar. It was an example of how his guitar elevated nearly every song in the show, and he got loud cheers for it from the sold-out crowd of more than 1,500.
But 1978 hit “Only You Can Rock Me” was fully open -- and very good -- rock. The band paired that with the far more melodic hit “Cherry” from the same year, which had the crowd clapping along. (Mogg slyly introduced by pointing to “the message it carries -- I tend to bullsh-t a bit.”)
Mogg’s performance was almost elegant. Rail-thin, he started dressed in a flat-brimmed black hat, jeans and blazer, which he shed after a few songs. He walked the stage, frequently lifting the mic stand, but never pandered and maintained a rock-regal poise. The rest of the five-man lineup performed likewise. Much has been made of the return of rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Neil Carter, who rejoined the band more than 35 years after a 1980s run when Paul Raymond died in April, and he was a presence on “Love to Love," played as a 10-minute opus that also displayed Moore’s speed. But mostly, Carter played a supporting role, albeit a strong one.
The last part of the set was the best. “Too Hot to Handle,” UFO’s 1977 U.S. breakthrough hit, was rocking and accessible, and pushed the performance over the top. Moore even played a long solo behind his head. After the song got a huge cheer, Mogg said, “Just warming up there.”
UFO wound down the set with a 12-minute version of its hit “Rock Bottom” that included a six-minute Moore solo in which he was later joined by Carter for a dual-guitar attack that also was a template for later bands. UFO closed its set by asking the audience whether wit wanted to hear “Doctor Doctor,” the band’s biggest U.K. hit, or its 1975 single “Shoot Shoot.” It chose the latter in one of the set’s few disappointments, but it still was very good.
And if that’s the way UFO rockets out of sight, it was a heavenly visit.
The power of UFO’s performance made that of co-headliner Blue Oyster Cult’s even more underwhelming. It was, in fact, a mistake to not have UFO close the night.
Blue Oyster Cult’s 12-song, 85-minute set, rather than focus on the group’s musical successes, was filled with lesser songs that, 40 years later, made the group seem like a band that simply had luck in producing a few good songs that extended its career.
It opened with three songs -- the novelty tune “The Red and the Black,” “Before the Kiss, A Redcap” and “Career of Evil” -- that did little to distinguish the band. When it did play a hit, “Burnin’ for You,” it was a bit ragged but luckily maintained that mystical ethereal quality for which Blue Oyster Cult was known.
Far more of the set set solos by guitarist Buck Dharma that were flashy, but added little to songs such as “Harvest Moon,” and were nowhere near as good as the playing UFO’s Moore displayed routinely. “The Vigil,” was really a simple blues riff the band seemed to try for nine minutes (!) to make mystical.
An instrumental, “Buck’s Boogie,” in its best moments sounded like The Doors, but also was underwhelming -- and 10 minutes long. Fellow guitarist Richie Castellano on “Then Came the Last Days of May” was no different, and when Dharma also played a long solo on that song -- dropping to his knees to play -- it was meant to be flashy but instead was tedious.
Blue Oyster Cult wound down the set with its hit “Godzilla,” which was fun and good enough, but not as good as remembered. The band closed the set, without introduction, with its biggest hit, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and even it dragged -- played very broadly instead of with the intricacies that made it so good.
The show closed with an encore of “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll.”
Ha! Thanks for that. After careful consideration, and reading between the lines and weighing up all his coded nuances, I don't think this guy is much of a BOC fan... :-) It reads like you were reviewed by a UFO fan who resented the fact that his faves weren't actually headlining... you see that sort of thing a lot...
> I don't recall ever being so thoroughly poo-poo'd by a critic. : )
I was just about to say "oh, I've got a bunch of worse reviews I could point to", but thinking about it, even the most vehemently antagonistic of BOC's "critics" (and I use that term in its broadest possible sense) that I've come across usually add a word or two to the effect that "actually, their lead guitarist isn't too bad", but this guy manfully resisted that temptation...
I can't do it myself as I'm blocked, but if this "review" page accepts comments, it might be nice if some of the other attendees could chip in with their thoughts on this particular piece of erm highly objective prose... just as a matter of balance, you understand...
Wow...Red and the Black is a novelty tune.Who woulda thunk it.Kinda like Running Bear or Yogi eh? To each his own I guess but that's pretty funny.Buck ,Sam really liked I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman maybe you could throw that or Winchester Cathedral into the set or do a long jam on Martian Hop.That's it we need more "novelty" tunes.Maybe he's on to something...or just on something.
No disrespect to UFO but the guy that wrote this review is either an idiot or a fiend of the band. Rock criticism like any opinion is at best subjective, send me to see a band I don't like chances are I'm still not going to like them.
That said in the UK at least back in the 1970's I thought BOC were mostly well supported by the rock press. I can remember Max Bell (NME), Sandy Robertson (Sounds) & Alan Jones (Melody Maker) all being enthusiastic about the band & regularly writing positive, often five star, reviews. This all changed in the 1980's but such is fashion.
That said in the UK at least back in the 1970's I thought BOC were mostly well supported by the rock press.
... apart from Tony Parsons, of course.... :-(
Yes I remember the hatchet job he did on Allen in I think 1978. But Parsons is & was clearly a prick & the piece stank of him trying too hard to prove his punk credentials. It also wasn't typical of BOC coverage in that rag at the time.