A Final Outrage: The Album Art of Blue Öyster Cult

By Richard McKenna

Despite the dispiriting fug of “classic rock” that hangs about their name—largely thanks to the persistence in popular culture of the song for which they are best known, the wonderful but largely unrepresentative “Don’t Fear the Reaper—Blue Öyster Cult began life as a high-concept countercultural proposition whose aim was to bring an underground literary and musical sensibility, as well as wit, to the dull, self-indulgent ceremonies of rock…

The Bruton Music Library, 1977 – 1989

Alongside the industrial manufacture of popular music which characterised the second half of the twentieth century, another type of music aimed at a smaller group of consumers and offering another perspective on the humours of its day was also being recorded: production music, also called library music, was instrumental music recorded to evoke a certain mood or tone and licensed for use in other media (for example as background, incidental or theme music)…

‘Masquerade’ by Kit Williams, 1979

In 1979, British artist Kit Williams published Masquerade, a picture book telling the story of a hare who loses the precious jewel entrusted to him by the sun. Masquerade contained clues to the location of a golden pendant in the form of a hare that had been buried at a secret location and was worth, at the time of the book’s release, £5,000…

Earth, Wind & Fire Panasonic Boombox Commercials, 1980 – 1983

At the dawn of the 1980s, soul-funk-disco orchestra Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) were at the top of their game. They’d just released their LP I Am (1979), which featured hit single “After The Love Has Gone,” and double-album Faces (1980). Both albums came close to hitting number 1 on the US pop charts and solidified the band’s already-solid reputation as reliable hit-makers…

The Transformers (Generation One), 1984 – 1990

Christmas, 1984. It was a hell of a time to be a kid. We’d reveled in seven years of Star Wars and Star Wars toys, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (also Hasbro) and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe franchises launched in 1982, using Lucas’s simplistic moral universe as a backdrop, and then Hasbro struck again with these diecast shape-shifting robots yanked from Japanese company Takara…

Metal Mickey, 1978 – 1983

After first appearing as a recurring character on British children’s TV show The Saturday Banana and scoring a hit record with his 1978 novelty cover of “Lollipop,” five-foot-tall remote-controlled robot Metal Mickey caught the eye of LWT producer Humphrey Barclay, who commissioned a self-titled spin-off series…

George Plimpton Advertisements for Intellivision, 1980 – 1983

The intersection of literary gadfly George Plimpton (1927-2003) with the Mattel Intellivision video game console (introduced in 1980) seems a very strange fit on the surface. Plimpton acted as Intellivision’s pitchman throughout the early 1980s in a series of print and television advertisements, his stentorian tones touting Intellivision’s superiority to industry juggernaut Atari…

Spaceport Employee Training Video, 1981

Spaceport was an East Coast mall arcade chain active in the early 1980s, competing with Time Out and Aladdin’s Castle. The interior was designed to resemble the inside of a spacecraft, with “escape hatches” protruding from the ceiling, cylindrical “E.V.A boosters” lining the walls, and various future-forward portals and struts…