In which former Blue Öyster Cult member Albert Bouchard revisits the eighties white elephant that brought the seventies rock behemoths to their knees; You get the sense that Bouchard, now seventy three, sees the Imaginos (the original album) as something of an Albatross around the neck of his career and here, in the twilight of his creative days, grasps the chance once and for all to render this album, which he himself always imagined to be a solo project, as he always saw it. But has he succeeded?
Without actually residing in the artist’s mind, it’s difficult to say for sure. It’s certainly different to the BÖC version, that’s for sure. Shorn of the bells and whistles of it’s eighties production, and with a running order you sense actually enables the listener to make sense of what’s happening, it certainly seems to be rendered here as Bouchard intended when he and Sandy Pearlman (BÖC manager/producer/lyricist) started working on the project nearly fifty years ago. The version of Astronomy featured here, for instance, is closer to the fragile strangeness of the take on the song recorded for 1974’s Secret Treaties than the galloping, slightly metallised version featured on the Imaginos album when it finally emerged after a six year gestation period in 1988. On the flipside, the riff-heavy The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria – 1988 vintage – certainly benefitted from the Steinmanesque sturm und drang of it’s eighties incarnation. Here it’s robbed of much of it’s pomp and circumstance, weakening the impact of the track significantly.
But overall, the sound and the feel of Imaginos in 2020 does seem right, to this reviewer at least. The country rock pairing of Del Rio Song and Gil Blanco County (the second of which finds itself back in favour, having been omitted in 1988) both stand out, and Manowar fans will be pleased to find out that Ross The Boss contributes stinging guitars to opening highlight I Am The One You Warned Me Of. This time around the album flows, and it’s the quality of the songwriting rather than the gloss of the production that leaves the most lasting impression on the listener. Imaginos may be the album that closed the curtains on BÖC’s ‘classic’ period, but here at last it gets the chance to speak for itself and maybe atone for some of the resentment long term fans might still harbour towards the project. Worth a listen.
Re Imaginos releases on November 6th.