In the 1970s, the Blue Oyster Cult (BOC) achieved super-stardom with the cult (pun intended) hit “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, a song about embracing death which was expertly made less cryptic with an upbeat, incredibly catchy melody. The song became popular with millions of people in generations to come, gracing the soundtracks of various movies and earning spots in several televisions shows and commercials. In 1996, the movie “Scream” hit theatres, filled with the creme de la creme of young Hollywood’s elite (at the time) and a stellar soundtrack. The most refreshing surprise of that soundtrack was Gus Black’s stripped-bare, slowed-down, incredibly erotic cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. Gus Black is, regrettably, still a fairly unknown artist, but his boldness at covering the BOC classic as well as it’s flawless execution are definitely worthy of admiration and respect.
I must have listened to BOC’s original hundreds of time before I listened to Gus Black’s cover, but it was only upon listening to that version that I experienced the fully morbid sensuality of the song’s lyrics. Unlike BOC’s recording, which induces adrenaline-fueled giddiness in a lovely, albeit audibly sophomoric melody, the cover uses the melody and composition alterations to make the listener feel languid pleasure rather than fear at the thought of truly embracing death.