Fan video here. The audio has a little too much treble there and it sort of takes away from the quality of the song, but you’ll get the basic idea.
Frankly, there’s no reason to believe that a cover of this Blue Öyster Cult classic by Heaven 17 would be anything but an abomination. I downloaded it more out of curiosity than anything else. It turns out, this might be one of the best cover versions of a song in my library. Far from trying to duplicate the song exactly, Heaven 17 really makes the tune a great dance number.
I’ve come to a deeper understanding of the song as a result of this cover. I’ve always read a certain amount of menace to the original version, but the lyrics are actually very hopeful – death is portrayed as a natural, positive thing. Indeed, it is nothing to be afraid of – its as natural as the seasons, the wind and the rain.
The Heaven 17 version of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” takes this one step further and turns the song into a celebration. One of the most interesting choices is to assign the counter-point vocals to a female chorus, which somehow makes it much more re-assuring.
The rest of the tracks we’re going to examine from Heaven 17 are from the 80’s, but I am glad to know they’re still making decent music and really will try to catch up with more of their recent tracks someday.