Tyranny and Mutation

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Tyranny and Mutation
Blue Oyster Cult-Tyranny and Mutation.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 February 1973
StudioColumbia Studios, New York City
ProducerMurray Krugman, Sandy Pearlman
Blue Öyster Cult chronology
Blue Öyster Cult
Tyranny and Mutation
Secret Treaties
Singles from Tyranny and Mutation
  1. "Hot Rails to Hell" / "7 Screaming Diz-Busters"
    Released: 1973

Tyranny and Mutation (stylized on the cover as THE BLVE ÖYSTER CVLT: TYRANNY AND MVTATION) is the second studio album by American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult, released on February 11, 1973 by Columbia Records.[1] It was produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman. On May 12, 1973, the album peaked at No. 122 on the Billboard 200 chart.[2]

The only single released from the album, "Hot Rails to Hell," did not chart.[2]

Composition and songs[edit]

The album was recorded in late 1972 at Columbia Studios in New York City.[3]

"Baby Ice Dog" features lyrics by poet Patti Smith, who would make several more lyrical contributions to the band's repertoire over its career.[4]

The song "The Red and the Black," with lyrics referencing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is a re-titled, re-recorded version of "I'm on the Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" from the band's eponymous debut album. The song was later covered by the Minutemen and Band of Susans. AllMusic critic Hal Horowitz called it "one of the best and most propulsive rockers in the BÖC catalog."[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[7]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[8]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal8/10[9]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[10]

Tyranny and Mutation received mixed reviews from contemporary critics. Gordon Fletcher of Rolling Stone wrote a raving review for the album and called Blue Öyster Cult "one of the best bands America's got."[11] Robert Christgau, writing for The Village Voice, praised the band's disregard for "the entire heavy ethos", but wondered if the "parody-surreal refraction of the abysmal 'poetry' of heavy" in the lyrics could be a start for a return to conformism.[8] The Rolling Stone Album Guide described the album as "one molten hook after another" and praised the four-song "opening suite" comprising the first side of the album.[7] On the contrary, Mike Saunders of Phonograph Records judged Tyranny and Mutation "a real disappointment", definitely inferior to their debut album and lacking "the sort of brashness that almost defines hard rock or metal music."[12] Ian MacDonald of the British New Musical Express was very critical of the Pearlman/Meltzer "crass Satan-speed-and-sad-ism" lyrics and of the band's music which "tend to leave the listener aurally shaken, but emotionally unstirred."[13]

Modern reviews are generally positive. Thom Jurek of AllMusic noted how BÖC "brightened their sound and deepened their mystique" on this album and described the music as "screaming, methamphetamine-fueled rock & roll that was all about attitude, mystery, and a sense of nihilistic humor that was deep in the cuff", judging Tyranny and Mutation a "classic album" as much as its follow-up Secret Treaties.[6] Martin Popoff in his Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal acknowledged the progress shown in production values from their debut, but found the sound "still mired in an oddly appealing maze of cobwebs", despite Blue Öyster Cult parading a slew of classic songs and "quickly becoming something very imposing".[9]

Release history[edit]

In addition the conventional 2 channel stereo version the album was also released in a 4 channel quadraphonic version on LP record and 8-track tape in 1974. The quad LP release was encoded in the SQ matrix system.

Track listing[edit]

Side one – The Black
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."The Red & the Black"Eric Bloom, Albert Bouchard, Sandy PearlmanBloom4:20
2."O.D.'d on Life Itself"Bloom, A. Bouchard, Joe Bouchard, PearlmanBloom4:47
3."Hot Rails to Hell"J. BouchardJ. Bouchard5:12
4."7 Screaming Diz-Busters"A. Bouchard, J. Bouchard, Donald Roeser, PearlmanBloom7:01
Side two – The Red
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
5."Baby Ice Dog"Bloom, A. Bouchard, Patti SmithBloom3:29
6."Wings Wetted Down"A. Bouchard, J. BouchardJ. Bouchard, Bloom4:12
7."Teen Archer"Bloom, Roeser, Richard MeltzerRoeser3:57
8."Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)"A. Bouchard, PearlmanBloom5:08
2001 CD reissue bonus tracks[4]
9."Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll" (live; originally from the promo-only Blue Öyster Cult Bootleg EP)A. Bouchard, Pearlman, Roeser4:44
10."Buck's Boogie" (studio version)D. Roeser, A. Bouchard, Pearlman5:22
11."7 Screaming Diz-Busters" (live; from the band's personal archives)A. Bouchard, J. Bouchard, Roeser, Pearlman14:01
12."O.D.'d on Life Itself" (live; from the band's personal archives)Bloom, A. Bouchard, J. Bouchard, Pearlman4:52
Total length:66:30


Band members
  • Murray Krugman, Sandy Pearlman – producers
  • Tim Geelan, Lou Schlossberg, Phil Giambalvo – engineers
  • Jack Ashkinazy – mastering
  • Bruce Dickinson – reissue producer
  • Vic Anesini – re-mastering


Year Chart Position
1973 Billboard 200 (United States) 122[14]


  1. ^ "Tyranny and Mutation - Blue Öyster Cult - Releases - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b "Tyranny and Mutation". Blue Öyster Cult Official Website.
  3. ^ Kaye, Lenny (2001). Tyranny and Mutation (CD Booklet). Blue Öyster Cult. New York City: Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings. p. 4. 502235 2.
  4. ^ a b Tyranny and Mutation (CD Booklet). Blue Öyster Cult. New York City: Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings. 2001. pp. 6–11. 502235 2.CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Horowitz, Hal. "Blue Öyster Cult- The Red and the Black song review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Jurek, Thom. "Blue Öyster Cult - Tyranny and Mutation review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 87. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  8. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: B". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 22, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  9. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (October 2003). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 1: The Seventies. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 53. ISBN 978-1894959025.
  10. ^ C. Strong, Martin. Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Canongate. ISBN 1841955515.
  11. ^ Fletcher, Gordon (April 12, 1973). "Album Reviews: Blue Oyster Cult – Tyranny and Mutation". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 12, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  12. ^ Saunders, Mike (April 1973). "Blue Oyster Cult: Tyranny and Mutation". Phonograph Record. Vol. 3 no. 9. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  13. ^ MacDonald, Ian (March 16, 1974). "Blue Oyster Cult: Tyranny And Mutation (Columbia Import)". NME. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  14. ^ "Tyranny and Mutation Billboard Albums". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2012.