September 2000

Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper - Best Of
Columbia/Legacy CK 65918
Released: 2000

by Chuck Moe

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****

[Reviewed on CD]Columbia/Legacy’s new compilation of Blue Oyster Cult hits may have you wondering how many "Best of" BOC albums we need, but this one’s different. For starters, it was produced by Bruce Dickinson, who really ought to know what hard rock sounds like, and it includes the most commercially successful songs by BOC: "(Don’t Fear) The Reaper," "Joan Crawford," "Burnin’ For You," and "Godzilla." The other song choices span a generous portion of BOC’s career, giving the listener a well-rounded feel for BOC’s music. Most importantly, all the tracks have been remastered -- Blue Oyster Cult’s recordings have never been mistaken for reference quality, and if ever there was a need for remastering, this was it.

As is typical of "Best Of" records, recording quality varies throughout. In general, the earlier the BOC recording, the worse the sound; however, Vic Anesini at Sony Music Studios has improved upon the original mastering jobs. Resolution and bass show the largest overall improvements throughout the disc. Joe Bouchard’s bass-guitar sound is much more distinct and prominent, adding some much-needed foundation to the mix. The guitars and vocals are about average for this genre and for recordings this old, but sometimes they seem a touch too thin. The drums, unfortunately, sound consistently thin and distant throughout most of the earlier material. And while original recording-tape noise is more evident, which will prove a distraction for some, most others (myself included) will find the increased detail well worth the noise.

Despite my criticisms, there’s not a song here that doesn’t show some degree of improvement over the original release. In fact, the Columbia/Legacy remastering is very close sonically to the Mobile Fidelity releases I own. I definitely would recommend this compilation to anyone looking for BOC’s commercially successful songs.