Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1986: Blue Oyster Cult- Club Ninja


It appears that I am one of the few people on the planet who really likes Blue Oyster Cult’s 1986 album, “Club Ninja.” One radio critic stated that the album, ‘lacked punch.’ I don’t know about that and I will say that it is a few levels down from their earlier greats like “Agents of Fortune” and my all time favorite B.O.C. album, “Fire of Unknown Origin,” but it’s still pretty good.

One criticism was that the band was struggling to find a commercial sound while not varying from their roots. Fingers point at the single, “Dancing in the Ruins” which was definitely made for the MTV generation. Still, the song has a good catchy vibe and is easy to listen to while still highlighting the quality musicianship of Blue Oyster Cult.

The opener, White Flag,” reminds me of their earlier material and shows they didn’t stray too far from the sound that made them great. “Make Rock Not War” is the heaviest song on the album. While it’s not “Godzilla,” the chorus is one of those you can chant or shout along to in good fun. Plus, it hosts the best guitar solo on the album. It definitely gets my vote for hidden gem.

Most of the rest of the album is in more of a progressive rock mode. “Perfect Water” has a cool guitar intro accompanied by some way out keyboards and Roeser’s vocals are very good. That’s another thing, I don’t think Eric Bloom and Donald Roeser get the true recognition they deserve as vocalists but I digress. However, even more progressive sounding rock comes in the forms of “When the War Comes” and the closer “Madness to the Method.” Both are long progressive jams over six minutes long and done very well. On the intro “When the War Comes,” there is a spoken word by radio shock deejay Howard Stern whose cousin was married to Bloom.

“Spy in the House of the Night” and “Shadow Warrior” are more harder rock tunes but not as hard as “Make Rock Not War,” although “Shadow Warrior” comes close with a cool guitar solo. But then comes the most surprising song on the album. This wasn’t the first time I heard the song “Beat ‘Em Up.” Lee Aaron also sings a version of it on her “Call of the Wild” album and I can’t fathom why Blue Oyster Cult would want to record it themselves. While they do a good job on the song, I still don’t think it’s necessary for it to be there. Maybe that’s me or would it have sounded better if Lee sang it with Blue Oyster Cult? That would be something worth hearing.

One reason why critics have been hard on the album and even called Blue Oyster Cult a band in decline was that they were going through constant line up changes. Jimmy Wilcox replaced Rick Downey who had played on the “Revolution By Night” album. Furthermore, Tommy Zvoncheck replaced Alan Lanier on keyboards, although this would be the only album Lanier didn’t play on. However, “Club Ninja” would be the last album for bassist Joe Bouchard. Constant personnel changes are never good for a band and maybe this affected the album.

One useless piece of information: In 1985, Blue Oyster Cult toured bars under the name of Soft White Underbelly. Unfortunately, they never came my way.

Track Listing:

  1. White Flags
  2. Dancing in the Ruins
  3. Make Rock Not War
  4. Perfect Water
  5. Spy in the House at Night
  6. Beat ‘Em Up
  7. When the War Comes
  8. Shadow Warriors
  9. Madness to the Method


Blue Oyster Cult 1986

Eric Bloom- vocals, guitar

Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser- vocals, lead guitar

Joe Bouchard- bass

Tommy Zvoncheck- keyboards, backing vocals

Jimmy Wilcox- drums, backing vocals

In spite of what critics and some people say, “Club Ninja” is still a pretty good album. It would probably have been better if they had a more secure line up.

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6 Responses to “Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1986: Blue Oyster Cult- Club Ninja”

  1. When I think of B.O.C in the 80’s the first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that they turned down Bryan Adams Run To You song so instead Adams recorded it and never looked back. That opening riff I read that Adams said he nixed it from Don’t Fear The Reaper.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve got this but haven’t got round to listening to it yet. Glad it’s not as bad as people say!

    Liked by 1 person

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