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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'The Essential Blue ÷yster Cult' (Sony/Legacy)
Artist - Blue ÷yster Cult

Blue ÷yster Cult (often abbreviated B÷C) is, simply put, a classic Americana rock band from Long Island, NY. Best known for such classic rock songs as '(Don't Fear) The Reaper,' 'Burnin' for You,' and 'Godzilla,' the band actually originated as a group called Soft White Underbelly in 1967.

Blue ÷yster Cult's sound shifted tremendously over the years, and this 2CD set proves that. From their early distorted rock creations, they went on to craft the most amusing progressive songs one could hope to get from a gang of none-too-serious musicians. Later, their sound gives in to the arena rock affectations of the late '70s and early '80s. A time period where it seemed the best musical thing to do was to blend abundant acoustics with synths as their stable underbelly.

And as much as there was an 'Essential Blue ÷yster Cult' CD released by Legacy Recordings back in 2003, it only contained 14 songs. So, not really all that essential, to be quite frank! This new essential double album opens with a classic from their debut album 'Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll,' before we get the Eric Bloom boogie of 'Before The Kiss, A Redcap,' the Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser guitar-intro'd 'Stairway To The Stars,' the Richie Castellano organ-fused 'Transmaniacon MC,' a live version of the instrumental 'Buck's Boogie,' and the frantic ode to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 'The Red And The Black.'

The Bolanesque, guitar-plucked intro to 'O.D'd On Life Itself' is next, with the psychedelic '7 Screaming Diz-Busters' followed by 'Career Of Evil' (co-written by Patti Smith), the heavy piano of 'Flaming Telepaths,' the gentle piano of 'Astronomy' (inclusive of, back then critic and manager Sandy Pearlman's very own poetry as its lyrics), and both live tracks 'Hot Rails To Hell' and from the same show, 'Harvester Of Eyes.'

The first disc ends with the show ending, nearly 8 minutes long live track 'ME 262' and from another live concert one of their ultimate classics 'Born To Be Wild.' Indeed, the second disc kicks of with a studio version of the FM radio hit 'Don't Fear The Reaper,' before a rousing 'This Ain't The Summer Of Love.'

A crackingly bluesy live version of 'E.T.I.' is next, with the guitar plodding 'Godzilla' following. The gentle breeze of 'Goin' Through The Motions' is a great way to break the constant speed of this second disc, and shows what the band could do when not straddled with blazing guitars! The synth-fused 'In Thee' is a treat also, as it showed a new, poppier time period in their history.

The light, near-instrumental 'Black Blade' (a song which is kind of a retelling of sci-fi and fantasy author Michael Moorcock's epic Elric of Melnibonť-Saga) is next, with a live version of 'The Marshall Plan,' the heavier drum-laden 'Veteran of The Psychic Wars,' a beautiful piano-driven 'Joan Crawford' (inspired by the book and film Mommie Dearest), and their uber hit, 'Burnin' For You.'

The spectacular two disc collection is rounded off by a live version of 'Roadhouse Blues,' the synth pop sound of 'Shooting Shark,' 'Take Me Away,' and finally the pop guitar work found within 'Dancin' In The Ruins.'