Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cult and Kraft : A Defenders- Blue Oyster Cult creative mash-up

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This is Richard Rory,on Citrusville's Rock FM WNRV, spotlighting the Blue Oyster Cult for this Psychedelic Psupper.

The Long Island, NY band, after five years of name and line-up changes, became Blue Oyster Cult in 1972, roaring onto the scene as the prototypical heavy metal group. In fact, the symbol that adorns each of their album covers is an ancient symbol for that classic heavy metal known as lead. Critic Richard Meltzer, manager Sandy Pearlman (who named the band), and future punk poetess Patti Smith all contributed lyrics.

According to Wiki:

The name "Blue Öyster Cult" came from a 1960s poem written by manager Sandy Pearlman. It was part of his "Imaginos" poetry, later used more extensively in their 1988 album Imaginos. Pearlman had also come up with the band's earlier name, "Soft White Underbelly", from a phrase used by Winston Churchill in describing Italy during World War II. In Pearlman's poetry, the "Blue Oyster Cult" was a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth's history. "Initially, the band was not happy with the name, but settled for it, and went to work preparing to record their first release..."

In an interview published in the U.K. music magazine Zig Zag in 1976, Pearlman told the story explaining the origin of the band's name was an anagram of 'Cully Stout Beer'.

Harvester of Eyes

BOC became one of the top touring acts of the next two decades. Their off-kilter subject matter and inventive use of synthesizers, along with memorably bottom-heavy production, gave the band a distinct sound. They tour, in fact, to this day.

The trio of black and white covers, with Pop Art sensibilities, stood out as part of the brand, as much as the science-fiction-flavored lyrics and often sinister music. The band progressed over time from a "biker boogie" sound to more textured songs, especially after the bandmembers began recording home demos of their ideas before developing them in the studio.

1976 saw the release of their commercial breakthrough album, Agents of Fortune. Among its many memorable songs, including "Astronomy" and "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" was the smash hit "Don't Fear the Reaper," written and sang by lead guitarist Buck Dharma.

Here's a one of a kind treat: a half-acoustic/ half-electric demo created by Buck Dharma.

Since the band’s inception, Eric Bloom has been the band’s chief lead vocalist. He and “Buck” are the only remaining original members of the psychedelic rock giant. Drummer Albert Bouchard (one of rock’s under-rated great drummers) and bassist Joe Bouchard are classic BOC members, along with keyboardist/ guitarist Alan Lanier.

What this has to do with the Defenders rests with writer/colorist David Anthony Kraft, or DAK as he is sometimes known in the comics community? During his tenure on the title, he and Roger Slifer did one storyline including tributes to the rock band Rush, who they later met in person. A year later, DAK returned from a story about nuclear holocaust (in the Soviet Union) with “Day of Xenogenesis,” a plot to birth a demon race on Earth.
I credit this storyline with the preoccupation with Hell and demonic villains that became a signature of the title, though the occult provided mystery and menace from the very first Defenders story with Doctor Strange, the Submariner, and the Hulk.

In the process of “Xenogenesis” DAK used the second album, “Tyranny and Mutation” as the title of the second chapter; the title of the fourth, “Agents of Fortune,” to describe the occult mercenaries, and the rocker “Dominance and Submission” as one of his chapter titles. The main villain was a priestess, half-human and half-demon, named Vera Gemini, after another song off “Agents,” and the last chapter in the trilogy shares the title, “The Revenge of Vera Gemini.” Patti Smith, who was becoming a headliner sensation at NYC’s CBGB club at the time these issues came out, co-wrote “Gemini.” Another song, “the Red and the Black” inspires a scene where Vera plays roulette with the demons for control---and wins.

Patti's poem, written for Albert Bouchard's birthday May 23, 1973
Rich Buckler's creation Devil-Slayer first appears in the Marvel Universe here as a renegade Agent of Fortune, with his cloak that provides him an endless array of medieval weaponry and teleportation abilities. (Just speculating: his real name, Eric Simon Payne, is a nod to Eric Bloom of BOC.) His opposite number, who attempts the assassination of Stephen Strange, is called the “Harvester of Eyes,” in allegiance to his desire to steal the Eye of Agamotto to bring about Xenogenesis. This is another BOC song, from their excellent third album Secret Treaties.

For that matter, I suspect the attorney rival of Jennifer Walters during DAK’s run on the first She-Hulk title, was named “Buck” after BoC’s memorable guitarist.

But there you have it. Some older fans, now in college, were looking for a more sophisticated take on the comics they loved; DEFENDERS took the vanguard of mixing outrageous super-heroics and offbeat characterization with dead serious issues. There was a time when Marvel was putting out graphic novels dedicated to the Beatles (by Kraft/ Perez/ Mooney), even KISS, when its young creators had a finger on the pulse of New York’s rock scene. No one ever tied it together quite like “the Dude.” And nothing says 70’s rock like Blue Oyster Cult.

Just as the BOC still tours, the Kraftsman is still creating comics, writing, drawing and coloring his own work. Check out Yi Soon Shin #4 for more of the Dude!

/Turns out the BOC has been in comic books A LOT !!! On their site, I found this:

Me? I've seen two eye-fulls of the weirdest things you can imagine. That's my rotten luck! But no matter how bad your day's been, a blast of rock and roll and a comic book are a nice way to get away from it all. This has been Richard Rory, with "Cult and Kraft"- up next, I've got some South African neo-prog rock with Fatboy Jetson, The Pixies, and some Bowie off "Scary Monsters" with Robert Fripp on guitar. Have a Nice Day!

1 comment:

  1. You can send $30 and get any three t-shirts and the comic, too---or $25 for the two styles of shirts and a comic.

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