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Deep Öyster Dilemma

A heavy-metal coin flip

What's a classic rock fan worth his or her vintage baseball-style concert T-shirt to do Friday night? Two of history's heaviest hammers fall scarcely 30 miles apart: Deep Purple at Verizon downtown; Blue Öyster Cult southbound at Scout Bar. Since you can't be in both places at once — and you certainly don't want to get pulled over holding weed on the Gulf Freeway — Wack pits both bands head-to-head to aid your ­decision-making.

NAME

Attention Blue Öyster Cult...

Details

Blue Öyster Cult plays Friday, August 24, at Scout Bar, 18307 Egret Bay Blvd., Clear Lake, 281-335-0002. Deep Purple plays Friday, August 24, at Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas, 713-230-1600.

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BOB: DP pinched their moniker from the sweetly sentimental 1930s song Nino Tempo and April Stevens took to No. 1 in 1963, a favorite of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's grandmother. She hoped they'd include it in their set. BÖC, memorably name-checked by de-virginizer/mall-based scalper Mike Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was the title of a poem by manager and fellow sci-fi fan Sandy Pearlman.

GREG: Agreed. In fact, perhaps the coolest band name ever. BÖC's previous name, Soft White Underbelly, is also pretty friggin' cool.

Winner: BÖC. Extra points for pioneering the "umlaut-rock" genre, which also gave us Motörhead, Mötley Crüe and Spinal Tap – even if the latter placed theirs over the "n."

SONGS

BOB: DP, along with Sabbath and Zeppelin, helped lay the foundation for heavy metal with "Highway Star," "Speed King," "Black Night" and, of course, "Smoke on the Water." BÖC likewise hit hard with "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll," "Godzilla" and "The Red and the Black," but their best-known hits are the softer "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "Burnin' For You": catchy, but hardly headbanging material.

GREG: Disagree. You're right about "Smoke," and "Burn" is also one of the all-time greats, but DP were all about the riffs and nothing else. No matter how high you got, "some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground" always meant exactly the same thing. BÖC offerings like "Baby Ice Dog," "Wings Wetted Down" and "Harvester of Eyes" were gloriously obscure, and took on different meanings with different intoxicants.

Winner: DP. These songs are the sound track to high-school keg parties, and the "Smoke" riff is mandatory for all aspiring guitarists to mangle at some point.

PERSONNEL

BOB: DP hits the stage with 60 percent of its classic lineup: vocalist Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice. BÖC also brings three-fifths: vocalist/guitarists Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma, plus guitarist Allen Lanier.

Winner: BÖC. Though Gillan played the title role on the Jesus Christ Superstar original-cast recording, it's not enough divine power to overcome Bloom and Dharma's double shot of authenticity. (Greg agrees.)

STYLE

BOB: DP axeman Steve Morse is longhaired, thin, buff and wears sleeveless, colorful T-shirts while running all over the stage. BÖC's Dharma is vertically ­challenged with short, thinning hair and often dresses like a mortgage banker onstage.

GREG: Disagree. I'm giving this to Buck Dharma. He was never in Kansas.

Winner: Deep Purple, unless you're interested in exploring a subprime loan during intermission.

It seems these Titans of Thunder have battled to a draw, so one final tiebreaker...

LOGO

BOB: DP has two metallic letters inside a circle, which a non-listener might mistake for the sign of a corporation that makes widgets or flux capacitors. Pretty boring. On the other hand, BÖC's has everything their name promises: mystery, power and ancient cult-like shit. "The hook-and-cross logo is that of Kronos, the king of the Titans and father of Zeus in Greek mythology, and is the alchemical symbol for lead, one of the heaviest of metals," says Wikipedia. Rock and roll!

GREG: Totally agree. Deep Purple didn't even have a logo till 1985.

And Your Winner: Blue Öyster Cult!

 
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