Secret Treaties is regarded by many fans and critics alike as Blue Öyster Cult's best album. The album spent 14 weeks in the US album charts, peaking at No. 53. It was declared gold by the RIAA in 1992.
Lyrics to the lead-off track "Career of Evil" were written by future punk poetess Patti Smith, a longtime contributor to the band (and, at the time, the girlfriend of BÖC keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Allen Lanier). Smith co-wrote tracks for at least five other BÖC albums.
A few changes were made to "Career of Evil" on the Single version (which is included on the album's 2001 remastered edition). The vocals are different: only Eric Bloom is heard for most of the song, instead of Bloom and Albert Bouchard singing together. Also one verse was removed ("Pay me..." to "...kneeling in the rain"). Part of the bridge was changed also, presumably to make the song more acceptable to radio: "do it to your daughter" became "do it like you oughtta." The line, "I want your wife to be my baby tonight" was changed to "I want your life to be mine, maybe tonight".