The American masters of metal have released a DVD of one of their most recent tour excursions: A Long Day’s Night. This actually came out in December 2002, but I have the time to review it only now. Besides, it’s still current in market terms, so I figure I’m under the wire.
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This band has been representing the origin of the American side of traditional heavy metal since 1970. At first commonly monickered ‘the American Black Sabbath’, BOC quickly carved a huge niche for themselves with albums filled with subtly powerful songwriting, masterful jamming and an arcane lyricism refreshingly different from the darkness of the mighty fathers (Sabbath!). While still often dark in content, the songs of Long Island, NYC’s Blue Oyster Cult were strangely upbeat and energizing. For this, they have always been an excellent counterpoint to the dark progenitors from Birmingham, England, with whom they have in fact toured twice.
A Long Day’s Night is also available as a CD, but when it comes to live albums I have the policy of owning the video product exclusively. Before DVD came along, there wasn’t really an option other than shitty commercial VHS and bootlegs. Now however we find that DVD is a great boon to hardcore fans who want to see a live performance at will and whim.
Not only is the video and sound better, as well as accessibility to specific sequences of a show, but also there are the goodies made possible by DVD: outtakes, deleted material and interviews that are common to recent concert products such as this, just as they are to movie DVD releases. This DVD is full of them too.
There are interviews with the entire band, which are informative and entertaining, taking you into the personality of the band; these are truly acquainting and watchable, moreso than most interviews that you find on DVD’s. Also, there are ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘fan interview’ offerings which are equally interesting. You see much of BOC’s consummate musicianship in the former, as they practice and go through their sound tests at the Midwestern arena where they play that night. (Eric Bloom mentions that it’s the summer solstice, which also happens to be my father’s birthday, June 21st.)
There are some rarities in the set list, some of which even I haven’t seen played live in front of me at shows I’ve witnessed. These include Cultosaurus Erectus’ (1981) ‘Lips in the Hills’ and Secret Treaties’ (1971) ‘Dominance and Submission’. Solos abound from all the players, even keyboardist Alan Lanier delivering a blistering guitar solo during the eternal BOC classic ‘Last Days of May’ (Blue Oyster Cult, 1970).
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this man do exactly this three feet in front of me at a small venue, and believe me, he puts just as much emotion into his solo in this DVD performance as he does at the intimate little club shows. He improvises solos just as passionate and varied and spontaneous as those of Buck Dharma, who takes over from him as if they had written it together and practiced it, which I assure you they did not. They’re that damn good.
I have not liked any of BOC’s previous ‘live album’ outings, partly because I never liked hearing them do Doors covers (for some reason a tradition in BOC’s past live shows). Also, the sound was never that great. I was unimpressed with the Extraterrestrial Intelligence Live (1982) double album, for example. On Your Feet or On Your Knees (1978) is okay, but A Long Day’s Night is much better… and it’s a DVD. You can watch it. If you want to experience the BOC of the days with the Bouchard Brothers, get On Your Feet…, or hunt down a bootleg on Ebay or someplace. Go ahead, they’re an important part of the history of the band, whatever negativity happened between them and the band.
So, in all, it’s one of the best DVD purchases you can make if you’re a traditional metalhead or classic rocker, and it’s an absolute must-have if you’re a Blue Oyster Cult fan of any caliber. Yes, it’s available on VHS, but it won’t have those goodies on it, so go to Radio Shack, buy one of those cheap DVD players and stop fucking around.
Dance the Danse,