By Dr. Abner Mality

The history behind this release is about as tortured and convoluted as anything that has ever appeared in Wormwood Chronicles. The origins of this go back decades, almost to the start of BLUE OYSTER CULT, which was ALBERT BOUCHARD’s band for many years. “Imaginos” was a bizarre concept album he and producer Sandy Pearlman conceived of that involved black magic, aliens, World War I, pirates, cowboys and who knew what else. In the mid-80’s, Al took his leave from BOC. Well, eventually the CULT put out their own version of “Imaginos” with no participation from Bouchard, which was the source of some antipathy between the parties.  BOC’s version of “Imaginos” was an absolute wall of sound and probably their densest, most baroque album ever. Opinions radically differ on if it was a true BOC release and to who played on it. One thing was for sure, it wasn’t the version that Albert Bouchard came up with.

Now in 2020 we finally get “Re-Imaginos”, which is Al’s take on it. It’s a strange album indeed and a completely different sound. As opposed to the huge sounding BOC version, everything here is stripped down and “naked” sounding, with emphasis on acoustic guitar and piano and Bouchard’s very homely vocals. The songs are recognizable as the same ones that appeared on “Imaginos”, but it is very much like you are listening to them in their embryonic, unadorned form. There’s still some electric guitar going on and the feeling is bare bones rock instead of the immense symphonic metal of “Imaginos”.

The order of the songs is different here and there are three tracks that never showed on the CULT version, “Girl That Love Made Blind”, “Gil Blanco County” and “Black Telescopes”.  All are in the stripped down style of “Re-Imaginos”. More familiar songs like “Astronomy”, “The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weissaria” and “Magna of Illusion” are utterly transformed by the removal of all the massive layers of sound present on the BOC version and feature small quirks that make them different. 

Which version do I prefer? If pushed, I have to say I still prefer the lushness of “Imaginos”. The vocals of Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom are frankly more polished than Albert’s but maybe not as emotional. But “Re-Imaginos” is a fascinating listen if you’re a fan of the BOC disc and there’s little doubt after hearing this that Mr. Albert Bouchard is one intensely creative and strange musical force.