"Aggression unchallenged is aggression unleashed."
So begins this radio spot for 1974's SECRET TREATIES album by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT. A quote from the Roman fabulist PHAEDRUS, it's just one of many bizarre references to philosophy and war (some of them fabricated) associated with the third album from BÖC.
If you've wandered into this page after Googling the words "Blue Oyster Cult," here's a primer on Grayson Hall: She received an Academy Award nomination for her work in the JOHN HUSTON movie, NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. Today, she's probably best known for her work DARK SHADOWS, where she played Dr. Julia Hoffman, enemy and ally to vampire Barnabas Collins. She passed away in 1985 at the age of ... well, nobody's really sure.
If I've got one passion in life, it's DARK SHADOWS. But, if I had two, the other would be BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, a band I've been obsessed with since discovering them in high school. The idea that DARK SHADOWS and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT would form a Venn Diagram of Awesome just delights me to no end. While I doubt Hall would have cared, her work on this radio promo puts her in the company of people like STEPHEN KING and HOWARD STERN, who also provided voice over work for BÖC on different projects.
SECRET TREATIES is littered with allusions to producer SANDY PEARLMAN's long-delayed (and ultimately never finished) IMAGINOS concept album. The story behind the making IMAGINOS would fill a book but, barring that, the 1988 album's Wikipedia page will have to suffice. BÖC was a band that favored the "concept album" approach to recording ... not in the epic-narrative PINK FLOYD sense, though. BÖC preferred idea- and sound-driven concept albums. If that makes any sense.
Because of that, IMAGINOS was difficult to fit into the sensibilities of a band like BÖC. A few ideas from IMAGINOS found their way to SECRET TREATIES, but not in a way that made any sense to casual listeners. People were left scratching their heads about the album's references to war and philosophy for another 15 years, when an abridged version of IMAGINOS was finally unleashed upon the world.
If you're interested in the band, I'd suggest starting with their first album, the self-titled BLUE ÖYSTER CULT. It's an atmospheric, dangerous-sounding recording that straddles the band's early psychedelic days and the very beginnings of American heavy metal. Some of my other favorites are TYRANNY AND MUTATION, SPECTRES, the live album ON YOUR FEET OR ON YOUR KNEES* and 1998's HEAVEN FORBID (which features a number of lyrics by science fiction/horror genius JOHN SHIRLEY and a terrible, terrible album cover.)
(*For purists, though, LIVE IN THE WEST is considered the superior live album from this era. Story has it that BÖC was unhappy with the track selection for ON YOUR FEET and compiled their own two-disc live album, giving it away to friends and family.)