Blue Öyster Cult

(Don't Fear) The Reaper

Song Review by

The best song Donald "Buck" Roeser ever wrote and the best record Blue Öyster Cult ever cut, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is an extraordinary, menacing hard rock variation on the Byrds' jangling pop. Blue Öyster Cult usually rocked a lot harder than this -- even their jokes tended to be delivered a little less than subtly -- but they never sounded as threatening as they do here, even if it was performed with their tongue slightly in cheek. Some could argue that the song's real strength was as a record, and it is true that the handful of cover versions that have followed don't capture the creeping doom of the original, but the song never sounds bad, even in the hand of bar bands. That's because the lyrics are carefully observed and the minor-key melody is elegantly insinuating. Other bands have tried to capture the feeling of impending doom, even death, but no song has done it as effectively as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Agents of Fortune 1976 Columbia 5:08
Rock Album, Vol. 1 [K-Tel] 1980
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:07
The Best of Blue Öyster Cult: Don't Fear the Reaper 1983 Legacy / Columbia 5:09
Loud and Proud 1988
Various Artists
Columbia 5:03
Rock Classics of the 70s 1989
Various Artists
Columbia 5:07
Three Decades of Rock: 60s 70s & 80s 1990
Various Artists
Priority Records
70's Greatest Rock Hits, Vol. 7: Rough & Rowdy 1991
Various Artists
Priority Records
Classic Rock Box: WNEW-FM 25th Anniversary Box 1992
Various Artists
PolyGram 5:06
Ultimate Rock, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
Cult Classic 1994 Herald Records 5:09
Rocktastic 1994
Various Artists
3:14
Born to Be Wild, Vol. 2 [Madacy 1995] 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:48
Workshop of the Telescopes 1995 Columbia / Legacy 5:08
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:07
Forever Rock, Vol. 2 [Sony] 1996
Various Artists
Madacy 5:08
Only Rock 'N Roll 1975-1979: #1 Radio Hits 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 3:45
Rock 'n 70s 1996
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:48
Revisited 1996 Gusto Records 5:07
Ultimate Rock 'N' Roll Collection [EMI] 1996
Various Artists
Legacy / Sony Music Distribution
All Out Rock 1997
Various Artists
Essex 3:53
Rock for the Ages 1997
Various Artists
Hip-O
Whole Lotta Rock: 1976-1977 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 5:07
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1970-1978 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 5:06
Greatest Hits of the 70's, Vol. 3 [1997] 1997
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 3:51
Spirit of America [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Super Hits 1998 Legacy / Columbia 5:08
Greatest Rock: All-Time Classics, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:51
The Best of Heavy Metal [BMG] 1998
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 7:50
Guitar Rock: Heavy Favorites 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Time / Life Music 5:05
Hard Rock [Delta] 1998
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 5:08
Mega Rock, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:09
Rockin' from the Grave 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:07
Easyriders, Vol. 5 1999
Various Artists
Thump Records 0:00
Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:51
Superhits of Rock: 1965 - 1979 1999
Various Artists
L & D 5:09
It's Only Rock N Roll [Sony International] 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:04
Rock Giants, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:08
Rock Trax: Hard & Heavy 2000
Various Artists
Calamari Records 7:51
American Classics [Import] 2000
Various Artists
Shock 3:46
Hard Rock to Metal 2000
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 5:08
Greatest Hits of the 70's, Vol. 11 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:07
Supergroups of the 70s [Madacy] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 5:10
Sensational '70s [2000/Box Set] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 5:08
City Rocks: New York 2000
Various Artists
Cityrocks 7:51
Sensational '70s [2000/Dark Blue] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 5:08
Greatest Hits of the 70's [Sony] 2001
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:07
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:07
All Music Guide: Classic Rock 2001
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 5:09
The Ultimate Hits of the 70's 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 5:08
A Year in Your Life: 1976, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Definitive 5:09
Jukebox Hits of the '70s [Collectables] 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 2:26
40 Years of Jukebox Hits: The 50's, 60's, 70's & 80's 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 5:08
Rock Hit Box 2002
Various Artists
BMG International 5:07
Ultimate Power of Supergroups 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 5:10
A Long Day's Night [Video/DVD] 2002 Sanctuary
Rock Classics: The Heavyweights 2002
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 0:00
Extreme 70's [3] 2003
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:08
The Essential Blue Öyster Cult 2003 Sony Music Distribution 5:09
Top Hits of the Seventies: Chart Toppers 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 5:07
Absolutely the Best of Classic Rock 2003
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 / Varese 3:49
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Columbia
Are You Ready to Rock? 2003 Sony Music Distribution 5:09
Rock 'N' Roll's Greatest Hits 70's 2003
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:09
Box of Rock 2003
Various Artists
Import 5:10
Rockin' 70's [Sony] 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:07
Miracle (Original Soundtrack) 2004 Hollywood 5:09
The Best of Classic Rock 2005
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 3:49
Classic Rock Gold 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 5:09
Then: Totally Oldies - Classic Rock 2005
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage / Varèse Sarabande 5:07
Singles Collection 2005 Columbia 3:48
Harley-Davidson: Ride 2005
Various Artists
Capitol / EMI Records / The Right Stuff / EMI 5:07
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector 2006
Original Soundtrack
Warner / Reprise 5:10
Maximum Cowbell 2006
Various Artists
Sony BMG
Highway South: Overdrive 2006
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:50
The Seventies: Hard Rockin 70's, Vol. 2 2007
Various Artists
American Beat Records 5:06
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:09
No. 1 Rock Album 2007
Various Artists
Music Club Deluxe 5:10
The Ultimate Rock Ballads Collection [Time Life] 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:51
The Ultimate Rock Ballads Collection: The Flame 2007
Various Artists
Rhino 3:51
The Power of Love: 60 Powerful Love Ballads 2008
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:48
World's Best Dad Gift Set 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:49
Seventies Power Ballads 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / Virgin 5:07
Halloween Classics [Shout Factory] 2008
Various Artists
Shout! Factory
100 Hits: Halloween 2009
Various Artists
100 Hits 5:08
Essential: The Power of Rock 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:10
Simply the Best Seventies Rock 2009
Various Artists
Warner Bros. / Warner Music 0:00
Haynes Ultimate Guide to Rock: Dad 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 3:50
Pure... Guitar Heroes 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:10
Made in America: 20 Classic All-American Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:48
Ultimate Guide to Rock Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Haynes / Sony Music 5:09
Greatest Ever! Rock Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 0:00
Pure... Drive 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:09
The Box Set Series 2014 Legacy / Sony Legacy 5:09
The Box Set Series: Classic Rock 2014
Various Artists
Legacy 5:10
The 70s: Blue Öyster Cult 2014 BMG / Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment 5:08
100 Hits: The Best Rock & Power Ballads
Various Artists
100 Hits / Sony Music 3:50
70's Songs
Various Artists
Crimson / Sony Music 3:51
70s U.S. Playlist
Various Artists
Crimson 5:09
Box of Rock [Disc 4]
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 5:10
Dad Songs
Various Artists
Crimson / Sony Music 3:49
The Heart of Classic Rock [Box Set]
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:04