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BLUE OYSTER CULT-
“ON YOUR FEET OR ON YOUR KNEES”
(LIVE ALBUM FROM 1975) REVIEWS
“No One Envied the Bands That Had To Follow Up This One”
By Bud (Seminole, Texas, USA)
June 4, 2004
When surveying Blue Oyster Cult’s catalog of live albums, it’s apparent that each of these in-concert releases was carefully placed at a specific point in the band’s career, to sum up or end a particular epoch. Such albums include “Some Enchanted Evening” (1978), “Extraterrestrial Live” (1982), and the recent triumph “A Long Day’s Night.” Each live album balanced old and new material, describing the advances and new territories discovered, while making sure to note the material from previous eras that made the progression possible. 1975’s “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees” was the first of these releases, an homage to BOC’s first three albums (all of which were landmark recordings for the heavy metal genre), and a reliable testament to what kept this great band alive-loyal touring and performing.
The blazing fury on this album completely blows away many, if not most, live albums that came before it; in 1975, Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive” was still a year away, and artists were not yet mistaking his example and disguising greatest hits albums under the live album mask (though some bands did manage to make live albums a meaningful event). Some of the only concert recordings released before “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees” that had as much fire and energy were The Who’s “Live at Leeds,” Deep Purple’s “Made in Japan,” and Bob Dylan & The Band’s “Before the Flood.”
The focus on these songs should not be so much on melody as on the fact that each of these five men are playing their guts out. The extended guitar readings that dominate the album are pure heavy metal passion and a musical bond that few bands can perfect. A perfect example is `Seven Screaming Diz-Busters,’ which features a searing guitar exercise in which drummer Albert Bouchard’s driving drum beats are kept perfectly in time with the soaring guitar work, one musician in heavy metal harmony with another. And when BOC does show a hint of restraint, it is just as hypnotic; Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser’s `Then Came the Last Days of May’ is one of the best songs written during their early era, a haunting but deceptively melodic tune about the futility and violence of the drug business. The collection closes on an appropriate note, a cover of `Born To Be Wild,’ one of the songs that coined the phrase “heavy metal.”
Perhaps it’s best that “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees” has not yet been fully remastered. The studio polishing would only take away from the raw sound that places the listener amidst the battalion of appreciative fans cheering for a band that were among the most unrelenting pioneers in heavy metal. As non-mainstream (for the 70s) as this music was, “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees” was Blue Oyster Cult’s first album to break into the Top 30, a stunning document of the innovations to come; it is both the end and the beginning of an era.
“A hearty slice of the Rabid 1970s”
By S. R.
February 16, 2005
Blue Oyster Cult recorded “On Your Feet…” at a time when they were selling out venues all over the world without the benefit of a hit single anywhere. A raw sounding record with NO OVERDUBS shows the rabidness of the band and gives a wicked slice of their first few releases with a couple cover songs thrown in, to boot. Speaking about sonics, this album will not impress you at first especially if your under the age 25, but give it a further listen a realize the time it was (I’m not saying its a badly recorded album, it just sounds like a mid 70s live album). “Then came the Last Days of May” features killer Buck Dharma solos, and is one of the coolest songs of the era, and the band’s re-working of the Yardbirds “I aint got You” is also very good rock. This is the band before “Don’t fear The Reaper” was released and before their style began to progress to a more adult-oriented rock and roll. But it’s all good, and it’s all cranked to high volume. A good lost classic for any collectors of landmark musical recordings. An interesting piece of history from an American metal band amongst a sea of British metal gods. An album worthy of the landmark title and should be on the tip of tongues of metal-heads everywhere like Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath is today. Blue Oyster Cult took a back seat to NO metal band of ANY era they just progressed beyond the (for lack of a better phrase) the teenage genre. Check it out.
“Let me take you back”
By Dr. Music
July 28, 2004
In a darkened room, set up your speakers on the floor about four feet apart. Now, lay down with your head on a pillow positioned midway between your speakers. I’m serious! Crank up Last Days of May (without making your ears bleed) and close your eyes.
Now, picture white clad Buck Dharma, bathed in blue light, standing alone in a smoky spotlight beam. A heady brew of pot and perfume permeates the air. Buck looks down as you strain against the crowd that yearns for your spot on the barrier, longing to worship at his feet. He smiles at you with his infectious grin and nods knowingly as he effortlessly produces the most unearthly, mournful wails ever to emanate from a guitar. You stare in disbelief and a shiver comes over you as if it was you in that ill-fated back seat, with your life-blood flowing and your mis-spent life slipping away before your eyes. The crush fades as the crowd becomes mesmerized. Lighters begin to pierce the darkness like stars on a moonless night. Someone nearby lets out a shrill whistle. Buck turns and your ears buzz with a harmonic ringing, like a pickup on Buck’s guitar. The solo ends with a flourish, the lights come up and he joins Eric Bloom, clad in sunglasses and a theatrical black cape, as they bring the song to a finish. The spell is broken and the air is forced from your lungs as the crowd surges forward, pinning you against the barrier. You could die a happy man now. You have witnessed one of the greatest live songs ever recorded.
This album captures Blue Oyster Cult’s musical genius and raw power like lightning in a bottle. At the time this was recorded, the sound level at a BOC concert could probably be measured on a seismograph!
Unlike most live albums, many of the songs here are actually better than the studio versions. Last Days of May compared to the studio version is like The Red and the Black compared to I’m on the Lamb: not even close. Subhuman is unbelievable! Buck flat out wails and Allen plays the Hammond like a six-string axe. Seven Screaming Dizbusters just keeps building and building to a diz-busting climax. Harvester of Eyes is transformed into a crunchy boogie that is far more enjoyable than the already good studio version.
The CD is not without its faults such as bad production, that annoying screech between two tracks, the repeat of a portion of Buck’s Boogie as a jam at the end of Maserati GT and of course, several conspicuously absent classics. Despite this, it still ranks as one of, if not THE greatest live album in rock history.
I for one would not mind if this album was remastered, if for no other reason than to get rid of that awful screech. As an owner of a vinyl copy as well, I am annoyed by the crossover added to the CD to meld four album sides into one.
“ALBERT, ALLEN, JOE, BUCK & ERIC’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE” March 29, 2006
March 29, 2006
Of all the live albums this band has ever done, this has got to be a personal best. Albert Bouchard, the band’s drummer, stated in an interview that this was his favorite. This may not be BOC’s best recorded album of all time, but it excells in surprises and unpredictability. It was listening to OYFOOYN that I was first introduced to this amazing band…they had an aura and a mystyic about them. Looking at the earlier albums later, I thought…just who are these guys, and better yet…which one was which?
SUBHUMAN: This band started off with a song that deserved a live recording. It has a certain Santana quality to it. Good starting song.
HARVESTER OF EYES: Where did that oooweeoo sound come from? Synthesizer? Guitar? And by the way, who will take responsibility for that? Eric? Buck? Allen? It’s perfect! This is the song that really introduces the album. It’s way better than the SECRET TREATIES version and is unrelenting from beginning to end.
HOT RAILS TO HELL: Joe Bouchard’s hellhole trash metal. Once again, a much different and better turn than in the studio.
RED & THE BLACK: A great song that is an all-time BOC classic, worth it all even just to hear Joe’s bass solo.
SEVEN SCREAMING DIZ-BUSTERS: The song your Baptist parents warned you about. Probably about as controversial a tune as ME-262, this entry has got some assorted treats in it.
BUCK’S BOOGIE: Penned instrumental by Buck and Albert, this jawbreaker has some of the best guitar and keyboard give-and-take ever heard.
THEN CAME THE LAST DAYS OF MAY: Blue Oyster Cult’s mellower side. Yes, this version is much better than their first album’s account. Buck’s lead guitar literally sings on this one.
CITIES ON FLAME: BOC comes roaring back with a song I’m sure all devoted BOC fans appreciate. Albert does the vocals, and this has got to be their best version…oh, to see all of this on DVD. Allen Lanier is especially impressive-to start off with keyboards (on the whole through their career Allen does not sing), and end the song with second guitar.
ME-262: As The Band’s The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is an account of the Civil War from a Southern man’ perspective, this song is an account of WW2 from a German bomber pilot’s angle of vision…about as controversial a song as Walker Blues by Steve Earle. This take on the song is a little inferior to the one on SECRET TREATIES but worth it to hear all of them on guitar. This is the live part to watch the early charter members do their five-man guitar frontal assault before the audience.
BEFORE THE KISS, A REDCAP: My top-ten personal favorite from BOC. Actually, I love both takes on this one.
MASERATI GT: A song by MC5 that I’m sure BOC loved to cover. This song has a certain roadhouse quality to it and it is enhanced by Eric’s vocals and Buck’s solo guitar in it.
BORN TO BE WILD: The classic BOC live song they never wrote. Poorly recorded, it’s sometimes hard to find out exactly what they are all doing during the song. I guess it might have been better to insert a live take of ODed ON LIFE ITSELF or DOMINANCE & SUBMISSION. Or even a DVD of OYFOOYN to see what is exactly going on.
On the whole, this album closes a chapter of BOC’s first wild and crazy era. It is called the black and white period, where Blue Oyster Cult were the original bad boys your parents didn’t want to even know about, much less listen to. Nowadays, the Oyster Boys keep on rocking the house with fans ranging from teenaged kids to 40-somethings such as me and older. I guess BOC’s future may something on the order of selling out assisted living homes. One thing is for sure…they don’t look like they will ever retire from this.
“The Best Live Heavy-Metal Album of Its Time”
By BluesDuke (Las Vegas, Nevada)
August 4, 2003
After a magnificent debut album, Blue Oyster Cult’s two succeeding studio albums suffered from excellent material sounding as though it been cut in a huge hurry between concert gigs, minus the stage ambience that enhanced and amplified the band’s hyperkinetic, craftsmanlike playing style (the knitting of their guitars and keyboards had always set them apart from the usual pound-sound heavy metal) and strikingly arrayed songs. This was one heavy metal band that concentrated as much on music structure as they did on blast and flash and weren’t afraid to let a little lyricism or melodism run around loose. What a surprise, then, that the most full-sounding Blue Oyster Cult album in their pre-“Agents of Fortune” period would be a live album. With a few slight re-arrangements – the added intro/bridge of “Subhuman,” the cheeky finale bridge for “Seven Screaming Dizbusters” (with singer Eric Bloom’s smartass parody of Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange” repartee), the thundercrack, soaring four-guitar-and-bass midsection of “ME 262,” the eerie synthesiser support for an extended guitar solo (and a pretty one) on Donald (Buck Dharma) Roeser’s early master ballad, “Then Came The Last Days of May” – and a couple of clever covers (especially the oddly atmospheric “I Ain’t Got You”), the Cult delivered a setfull of the exuberant, insouciant slash that made them such an in-person favorite even when their recordings weren’t selling accordingly.
Interestingly, the band divided the selections almost evenly from their first three albums: three from “Blue Oyster Cult” (including a speedball-accelerated “Before The Kiss, A Redcap” and “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll”), three from “Tyranny and Mutation,” and three from “Secret Treaties,” the aforesaid pair of covers, and the concert favourite “Buck’s Boogie.” For the latter, Roeser and keyboardsman Allen Lanier trade off on some whip-it solos before Lanier eases back to play support-and-push for the guitarist’s galloping flights. It could have been a washout of self-indulgence but wasn’t; Roeser was always too sensible and tasteful a player for that (he was nothing if not the most underrated guitarist of his breed), and it didn’t hurt that the band could and did keep up with him and keep him anchored as well as they did.
As a kind of wrap-up to their early era (they were already at work on the music that would become “Agents of Fortune,” determined to take the kind of care with it that they took with their first album, avoiding the rush job of the second two), “On Your Feet or On Your Knees” was as good as it got and then some. For a band whose strength was as much their concert style as their recordings, Blue Oyster Cult would never again put forth a live album (there were two yet to come, the disappointing “Some Enchanted Evening” and the inconsistent “Extraterrestrial Live”) equal to this one’s elemental sophistication of power and sensibility.
BLUE OYSTER CULT DISCOGRAPHY:
1972 Blue Öyster Cult
1973 Tyranny and Mutation
1974 Secret Treaties
1975 On Your Feet or On Your Knees
1976 Agents of Fortune
1978 Some Enchanted Evening
1980 Cultösaurus Erectus
1981 Fire of Unknown Origin
1982 Extraterrestrial Live
1983 The Revölution by Night
1986 Club Ninja
1994 Cult Classic
1994 Live 1976
1998 Heaven Forbid
2001 Curse of the Hidden Mirror
2001 St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings
2002 A Long Day’s Night
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