The Legacy division of Sony continues to explore new ways to keep the CD relevant. Their Playlist series was the first out of the gate with eco-friendly packaging that used 100% recycled cardboard, no plastic, and on-disc PDFs in place of paper booklets. Their new Setlist series follows the same path of a single disc that provides an aficionadoâ€™s snapshot of an artistâ€™s catalog. In this case the anthologies turn from the studio to the stage, pulling together tracks from an artistâ€™s live repertoire, generally all previously released, but in a few cases adding previously unreleased items. As with the Playlist collections, the Setlist discs arenâ€™t greatest hits packages; instead, they forgo some obvious catalog highlights to give listeners a chance to hear great, lesser-known songs from the artistâ€™s stage act.
Inexplicably, Blue Oyster Cultâ€™s entry in the series doesnâ€™t include the booklet on disc. Instead, the cardboard slipcase provides a URL from which the booklet (as a PDF) can be viewed and downloaded. Once retrieved it provides liner notes from Lenny Kaye and detailed credits of the tracksâ€™ origins. Many are pulled from the groupâ€™s previous live albums, On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, Some Enchanted Evening, Extraterrestrial Live, but the set also includes a promo-only version of â€œGodzillaâ€ recorded in 1977, a 1981 take of â€œFlaming Telepathsâ€ that was available on a British 12-inch single, and a previously unreleased 1979 version of â€œThe Vigilâ€ recorded in Berkeley, California. Taken together they provide a good view of the bandâ€™s live sound from their key years of 1974 through 1981.
BOC is a classic album-oriented rock band, placing only two singles on the Top 40 while scoring gold albums, minting FM turntable hits and turning itself into a solid arena draw. Their biggest single, â€œ(Donâ€™t Fear) The Reaperâ€ is included here in a 1981 performance, but itâ€™s the album tracks and the hard-charging jams that really excite the crowd. Their music reflects a number of improvisational threads, including San Francisco and Southern rock, but with a touch of prog-rock changes and a heavy metallic edge. Fans of the bandâ€™s carefully crafted studio albums may find themselves bewildered by these elongated versions (there are some Tap-like moments here), but if the live rock album boom of the 1970s is your cup of tea, this is a good sampler of BOCâ€™s stage charms. [Â©2010 hyperbolium dot com]