Blue Oyster Cult has kept busy this decade, releasing their first new studio album since 2001 in 2020 and issuing live records recorded at various tour stops this century. They've also remained on the road nonstop since their 1972 debut album. All this has made them one of the most reliable legacy acts of the 21st century, with co-founders Eric Bloom and Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser still fronting the band.

Their 15th album - fittingly titled Ghost Stories - finds inspiration from the spirits in the shadows. Collecting unreleased songs dating to the late '70s - most made by the original quintet of Bloom, Roeser, Albert Bouchard, Joe Bouchard and Allen Lanier, along with current guitarist Richie Castellano - the album features recent additions, both in performance and mixing, to help complete some of the unfinished tracks. The result is a record shrouded in vintage music but topped off with a modern sheen.

Most of the recordings were started between 1978 and 1983, the period that included the albums Mirrors, Cultosaurus Erectus, Fire of Unknown Origin and The Revolution by Night. One song from 2016, a regrettable acoustic cover of the Beatles' "If I Fell," is also here. If Ghost Stories doesn't always fall together as seamlessly as any of their albums from that era, and it's often not hard to hear why many of these songs remained unreleased, the once-shelved songs are nonetheless a welcome addition to the catalog.

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The best cuts reinforce Blue Oyster Cult's desire during the late '70s and early '80s to meld their hard-rock muscle to occasional pop melodies. "Late Night Street Fight," "So Supernatural" and "Don't Come Running to Me" would effortlessly fit on any of their albums from this period. The modern-day post-production - used for clean-ups and overdubs mostly - rarely reveals any seams in the process.

Many of the tracks on Ghost Stories were either rehearsed or planned for records released during the album's five-year time frame. Or, as is the case with covers of the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," they were concert favorites for decades before finally getting proper studio versions. As strays, nothing here ranks with the band's most essential work. But by dusting off these lost tracks, Ghost Stories serves as a reminder that there are still pieces of history to be mined from rock's forgotten past.

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They have never been a paint-by-numbers rock 'n' roll band.

Gallery Credit: Dave Swanson