American Rocker is Joe Bouchard’s new album, and it tells a number of stories relating to Joe’s past with Blue Oyster Cult, in particular – ‘the golden age’ of the ’70s rock era (see video in links). The album’s cover features stands out with a ’70s-period portrait of Joe, created by American artist Alan Ayers, who is better known for book covers (see the link to his website below). The album’s typeface was created by artist Wallace McBride (aka Unlovely Frankenstein). who also designed those classic looking book covers that appear in the videos for American Rocker. JB: “I did the videos, but I edited a lot of his art into the videos. He also did the typeface for the album cover. He’s very creative. I love his nostalgic approach.” The latest video is for the song “Deadly Kisses”, one of my favorite tracks on the album. Check it out, and check out the links below!
Below, Alan Ayers tells us about his work on the cover for American Rocker, as well as his favorite BOC tunes, and what else he has been involved in.
How you got involved with American Rocker
I was thrilled when Joe contacted me and asked if I would do the cover art for American Rocker. I met Joe through Joan Levy Hepburn, who has been a dear friend for 30+ years.
As an experienced illustrator, and being of the same generation as Joe, he and Joan felt I would be able to recreate the wonderful energy of ‘70s art.
Your background, and artwork you’re also known for
I’ve been illustrating professionally since 1979. My early career was as an advertising illustrator, but I transitioned to publishing in 1987. My work now is primarily novel covers. Occasionally I will work on a non-fiction title. I recently completed the cover for Bill O’Reilly’s latest book, Killing the Legends. I’m still managing multiple deadlines and have no plans on retiring.
Familiar with Joe’s and BOC’s music, favorite songs
I have very fond memories of early Rock and have been a fan of BOC for many years. There are so many BOC classics, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Don’t Fear The Reaper and Burning For You are two of my absolute favorites. I am nuts for all the tracks on American Rocker, but if I had to pick a fav it would be Deadly Kisses.
How you created the American Rocker cover art
Although I was trained traditionally and created images in acrylic and oil for many years, I’ve been working digitally since 1995. I am very comfortable working with a tablet, and often forget I’m not “pushing paint around”. The American Rocker cover was “painted” digitally, combining reference photos provided by Joe. The trip back to the 1970s style was great fun! My main visual influences were the great Daniel Maffia, with a touch of Warhol’s playful style.
You were involved in a Rolling Stones’ cover
Yes, I did work on the Stones Bridges To Babylon insert — mostly on the interior desert scene with Gerard Howland. I did do the final adjustments on Kevin Murphy’s wonderful lion painting for the cover.
My more recent work is on Instagram — traditional illustrations, far different from the wonderful, crazy art of the 70s!
Albert Bouchard’s Imaginos II : Bombs Over Germany, which came out last October is now available on vinyl. Check out the link below. Imaginos 2 features guest appearances from former Blue Oyster Cult bandmates Eric Bloom, Joe Bouchard, Buck Dharma, as well as Richie Castellano [of BOC], as well a number of guitar players. The album’s art was [again] created by Richard Zoll. Among the 14 tracks are classy re-workings of such BOC favorites as “OD’d On Life Itself”, “Cities On Flame (With Rock And Roll)”, “Dominance And Submission”, “The Red And The Black”, and “Shadow Of California” (feat Ross ‘The Boss’ Freidman on classical guitar).
Albert will be playing 3 shows with BOC in September, celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary, and performing the band’s first 3 albums in entirety (a separate one each night). He also has summer tour dates with Joe (The Bouchard Brothers in UK) and Blue Coupe (US & Canada)!
American Rocker is the 6th solo album from former Blue Oyster Cult member Joe Bouchard. Over the past 15 years Joe has been a prolific songwriter, delivering albums regularly, each with new themes and cool tracks, including those fine tunes that Blue Oyster Cult fans can imagine as gems that would’ve fit well on classic BOC albums. Songs here are written with Joe’s past in mind with Joe stating in the liner notes – “American Rocker is a musical reflection of my life as a rock star. I feel lucky to live a life in music, and to be fulfilling my wildest dreams.” The stand out single here is “In The Golden Age”, which tells of the great times being in a major band during rock’s golden era, while “Hey There Suzi Dear” is a fun upbeat track (and album closer) that revisits one of the characters from BOC’s classic “Astronomy”!
Over his solo career Joe has definitely created his own sound, and it’s those acoustic based dreamy and sometimes haunting melodies and tunes that stand out like the ballad “Deadly Kisses”, “The Devil’s In The Details”, “Off Season Hotel”, and the catchy pop track “Katherine” – all sound great for a summer’s day. Love the production and various instruments used throughout this album, while Mickey Curry plays drums throughout, there are some awesome productions, such as with “Off Season Hotel” which also features John Jorgenson on flamenco guitar, Albert Bouchard on bongos & rhythm guitar, and Joe adding various keyboards, guitars, bass…. Albert appears on a few tracks, also notably the rockin’ “Love Out Of Thin Air” – adding temple bells, triangle and rhythm guitar, Joan Levy Hepburn adding backing vocals here [as well as a few others], and Joe creatively adding organ, piano, cornet, and finger snaps, all making for a great mix of one of the album’s best here.
There is a lot to dig in to here, 11 tracks, lots of different instrumentation [Joe also using mandolin, slide guitar and trumpet on occasion], some great stories in the lyrics, and a great mix of sound and songs. I probably said this with Strange Legends, but THIS is the best thing Joe’s done since he started making solo albums. Cool packaging with various images from Joe’s past, including the cover.
From http://www.joebouchard.com : This is the strongest album yet, you won’t be disappointed! Coming soon on RockHeart Records dist. by Deko Entertainment. The first single will be the hard rockin’ MY WAY IS THE HIGHWAY that will be out on April 29, 2022.
Blue Coupe – (Joe & Albert Bouchard and Dennis Dunaway) have announced shows in July, including one at Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo July 21. Check out the band’s facebook page for announcements – https://www.facebook.com/blue.coupe.rocks
‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ was Blue Oyster Cult’s first and biggest hit in 1976, after 3 albums. The song became etched in American pop culture in 2000 when a skit was made of it on Saturday Night Live with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken; having fun with the recording of the cowbell [which in turn inspired the song “More Cowbell” by Blue Coupe!]. BOC fans know the band was one of the best from the US in the ‘70s, originally signed by Columbia in hopes to be a response to the heavy bands on Warner Bros at the time – mainly Black Sabbath, but BOC were never simply a heavy ‘metal’ band, loads of variety, rockers, ballads, with 5 guys that all wrote and could sing lead. They had their own themes and stories in the songs and albums [see my interview with Albert Bouchard], a cool symbol [an idea taken on by other bands], noted for their lazer show in the ‘70s, but to us fans – a string of classic albums from ’72 to 81! The band’s output [and quality of] declined when [drummer] Albert Bouchard left, and then [bassist] Joe Bouchard a few years later. Main singer [and guitarist] Eric Bloom and lead guitarist [and often lead singer] Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser still tour with BOC today. The Bouchards have an excellent little band [and a few cool band and solo albums] called ‘Blue Coupe’ [along with Dennis Dunaway of the original Alice Cooper group]. There was no one else like the original Blue Oyster Cult. So, here’s my recommended list of BOC classics, more so for those thinking they were just the band with the cowbell song!
From the first album in 1972. The band’s first great rocker, an anthem and permanent live favorite, penned by Donald Roeser and Al Bouchard. Those first 3 albums were in a class of their own.
Wings Wetted Down
Not exactly sure what this eerie tale is about, vampires[!?] , but always loved this from Tyranny & Mutation, penned by Albert and Joe Bouchard. A dark heavy riff, playing around piano / acoustic verses, cool lengthy solo, and heavy chorus.
Hot Rails To Hell
From the second album, one of Joe Bouchard’s biggest contributed tracks in BOC. A classic early rocker; Joe drives this song with the bass, and it’s a killer. Fast paced, heavy on the guitars…BOC was not so smooth sounding early on, made to be played loud.
Career Of Evil
The opening cut to Secret Treaties, penned by Al Bouchard with Patti Smith. such an energetic track. Based mainly on Allen Lanier’s organ sound. creepy, gothic stuff about doing anything imaginable wrong to somebody. – “I choose to steal what you choose to show, And you know I will not apologize.”
Epic from the Secret Treaties in 1974; written by Albert & Joe Bouchard with Sandy Pearlman. Originally composed on piano and keys, so eerie and cool. Not exactly sure what this all about [some interesting discussion at > www.songfacts.com] . I like the various versions [the Some Enchanted Evening live version and the 1988 Imaginos re-do],but the original is my fave BOC track. – “it’s the nexus of the crisis, and the origins of storms”.
Al Bouchard – “Pearlman was always reading every kind of esoteric book imaginable so that had a lot to do with our subject matter.”
I think I grew to love this dark rocker because it leads in to “Astronomy” on the album, and since there no break between the songs, I always play[ed] them together! Cool and rare synth & piano solo, followed by a classic Buck Dharma solo. Co penned by Donald Roeser, Albert Bouchard, Sandy Pearlman, and Eric Bloom. …”and the jokes on you” …. I really gotta figure out these stories in the songs…
This Ain’t The Summer of Love
The lead off track from Agents of Fortune – such a strong album [see ETI, Morning Final, Debbie Denise..]. Great guitar chugging intro and then band crashing in; a short, powerful rocker! Co-written by Al Bouchard, Murray Krugman and Don Waller, but given a fitting vocal from Eric Bloom. Lizzy Borden did a decent cover of this.
A classic rocker from Agents of Fortune, penned by Al Bouchard [who also sang it] along with Helen Wheels. Love the chorus and harmonies, great lyrics – “I love you like sin – but I won’t be your pigeon”.
Searchin’ For Celine
A classic Allen Lanier penned track. kicking off with piano, a bit of funk and lots of changes, melody, and a great vocal from Eric Bloom. Love this one; very different!
R.U. Ready to Rock
One thing BOC almost always managed to do was have kick ass rockers open each album side. This song was written with the live show in mind; great riff and intro, short and to the point! Written by Al Bouchard and Sandy Pearlman.
I Love The Night
BOC did so many different tunes, and some classic ballads, such as this haunting one from Spectres.Also penned and written by Buck Dharma. Great melody and harmonies. – “the day is ok and the sun can be fun…”
From 1979’s Mirrors. This had some great songs, but the production was a bit too tidy, attempting to perhaps pull some radio friendly tunes!? But “The Vigil” [co-written by Donald and Sandra Roeser] stands out as a late in the game BOC epic; lots of changes, lots of guitars, harmonies, and big production. One of Buck’s best!
Written by Donald Roeser for Cultosaurus Erectus, as a reaction to the Iran hostage situation. Great vocal from Eric Bloom, a slower paced, guitar heavy, dark classic. Produced by legendary heavy producer Martin Birch [Sabbath, Deep Purple, Maiden..] to bring the band back from the aor approach of Mirrors. – “If he really thinks we’re the devil, then let’s send em to Hell.”
From Fire Of Unknown Origin, the last to feature the original line up. Love the classical piano intro and then the band stepping in. great lyrics, with humor, very theatrical. The band even shot a video for this song in ’81.
Al Bouchard – That song was inspired by the book “Mommy Dearest” and also the behavior of my ex-wife one day while David Roter, Jack Rigg and I were trying to record a demo. Joe wrote the intro but Allen played it.
Burnin For You
The band’s other top 40 hit, and probably 2nd best known song, from Fire Of Unknown Origin. Penned by Richard Meltzer with Buck Dharma, who sang it. A more mainstream rocker about the rock n roll life. – “Burn out the day, burn out the night.”
*Drop me a note and let me know what ya think! BOC fans – feel free to add in omissions and insight. [thanks]