I've been a fan of Blue Oyster Cult ever since I heard Don't Fear The Reaper about a year ago. They're an American classic rock/heavy metal band that rose to fame in the 1970s, mainly known for their songs "Don't Fear The Reaper" & "Burnin' for You". Even though BOC hasn't released many studio albums since the mid 80s, longtime members Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser(lead guitarist, vocals) and Eric Bloom(lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard) have given over 4000 live performances over the years and they're still going strong, improvising on their work as they go along. BOC's lead guitarist Buck Dharma has always been a highly underrated guitar player, but he has produced some of the most beautiful pieces of music that I've heard come from a guitar. From his smooth and melodic performance in songs like "Then Came the Last Days of May" to his powerful, lightning fast finger burners in "Veteran of the Psychic Wars", his leads are impassioned and mesmerizing.
Eric Bloom, Allen Lanier & Buck Dharma
Until a few months back, I had only listened to their top studio songs, only occasionally listening to their live versions. After listening to their live versions, I realized that that's where BOC truly shines. Buck Dharma's guitar solos are a marvel to listen to, he plays his heart out on every song. Moreover during his many live performances , he has consistently managed to outperform his own playing on their studio songs by improvising on his already great solos. Even after four decades, he seems to enjoy every song that he plays and he does it with so little effort as his fingers glide through the strings to produce some of the most enjoyable and memorable guitar plays.
I've managed to make a list of what I think are among the top live performances (in random order) of Blue Oyster Cult. Most of the official old videos were lacking in the sound quality department, so I've tried to add better remastered versions as much as possible
1) Blue Oyster Cult - (Don't Fear) The Reaper (Live) 1981
The song that made me a BOC fan for life, Don't Fear The Reaper is not only Blue Oyster Cult's biggest hit, reaching top spots on the charts, it also helped push the album 'Agents of Fortune' into platinum territory. It was written and sung by Buck Dharma, who again manages to excel with his signature guitar riff as well as by adding another new explosive solo session towards the end of the song.
"The Byrds-inspired guitar riff and ghostly vocals carry the load before a mid-song guitar explosion shoots through like a glorious meteor shower." - Ultimate Classic Rock2) Blue Oyster Cult - Veteran of the Psychic Wars (Live) 1981
Roeser's three and a half minute solo from 2:36 has managed to push this song to a whole new level, way beyond what it was supposed to be when they released the studio version in the album "Fire of Unknown Origin".
3) Blue Oyster Cult - Then Came the Last Days of May, Paris 1975
Supposedly based on a true story involving friends of the band, the song tells the story of a drug deal gone bad. With Buck playing as the lead guitarist and vocalist and Albert Bouchard at the drums, it delivers one of the most fluid and soothing rock performances ever.
4) Blue Oyster Cult - Astronomy - E.T.I. (Live, 1976)
Astronomy is a rock song by Blue Oyster cult that was first published on their 1974 album "Secret Treaties" and has managed to appear on few of their other albums as well. The song starts out slow with Eric Bloom at the vocals, kicks it up a notch around 3:27 and then takes you to a whole new dimension from 4:32. Buck's solo is a treat to hear and along with some good work on the drums to back him up, the music emanating from that guitar resonated with my mind on a lot of different levels.
5) Blue Oyster Cult - Then Came the Last Days of May (Live)
I would have had "Burnin' for You" in this spot, but I couldn't find a decent quality of my favorite live version. Plus this one is too good to not be in the list with extended guitar solos by the late BOC guitarist Allen Lanier as well as Buck. Meanwhile Bloom takes the keyboard this time. This version is more fast paced, but features some excellent guitar work that move all the way from subtle and smooth, melodic sounds to a supernova explosion towards the end. Allen Lanier also gets center stage this time with his own amazing solo.