"I'd like to thank my friends here who gave me this little whip, It's really lovely, I'll keep it and cherish it forever..."
"On Your Feet Or On Your Knees" is another of the all time greatest live albums that were churned out in the mid-70s. "Kiss Alive!", "Frampton Comes Alive" and UFO's "Strangers In The Night" were all powerhouse albums showing an awesome live sound, and presenting the respective songs as far superior to the studio releases with lead guitar brilliance from respectively Ace Frehley, Peter Frampton and Michael Schenker. BOC have a much more raw sound and the extended lead guitar solos are stunning; Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser is really given a chance to ignite the atmosphere with electrical charges of guitar energy, surely he is his element on the live stage where he can be allowed to run riot on his Gibson SG lead guitar. Eric Bloom is wonderful on lead vocals, stun guitar, and synthesizer, Allen Lanier keep things cranking on keyboards, and the rhythm section of the Bouchard brothers on bass and drums gives it the drive and power it needs. The band are simply dynamic throughout the concert, and the added sections of lead guitar licks and extended codas, as well as Bloom's banter and the roar of the crowds make this an irresistible slice of proto prog, early metal history.
'The Subhuman' is a great rocking opener to set things in motion. The band sound fresh and enthusiastic, hammering out the classic from "Secret Treaties". This is followed up swiftly with 'Harvester Of Eyes' where the guitars are heavy slabs of lead generating a brilliant sound, with Bloom screaming like a banshee "right in front, to the back of your skull." This is akin to Sabbath or Purple at their best.
'Hot Rails To Hell' from "Tyranny and Mutation" is next with a spine crushing solo, and played at a blistering pace. Next is 'The Red And The Black' that had to be here, and the riffs are furious with scorching lead breaks from Dharma. The astonishing musicianship sets the bar very high but it prepares us for the blockbuster to follow.
'Seven Screaming Diz-Busters' is an 8:49 tour de force of blitzkrieg lead guitar and crunching riffs. Eric Bloom intros it by saying he likes his whip and he will cherish it forever, presumably thrown to him from someone in the crowd. This live version was my first taste of BOC 28 years ago when I heard it on the metal show. This is the version I will always cherish, too awesome for words, with the greatest riffs that lock into your skull, and then there is the towering lead solo. Dharma's guitar screams in pain and the solo is full of fret melting ferocity with vicious string bends. The interlude is Bloom telling the crowd all about how the band apparently were visited by a mysterious man who promised them they would be famous and rock legends as long as they signed a secret deal, in blood! Apparently they did and now the mystery man wants to reclaim the payment, and he is coming back for them. This is as sinister as the band gets as far as atmosphere, and it features some frenetic lead work from Dharma, and shimmering organ phrases from Lanier. The drums are attacked by Albert throughout and the bass is pulsating continually by Joe, the Bouchard brothers. The best BOC for me personally without a doubt as I love the extended lead soloing and overall atmospherics.
'Buck's Boogie' is an amazing instrumental guitar workout, and the Hammond drives it home beautifully. The lead guitar break is blues and rock revved to the max and this is a fast paced jam session to unleash what the band do best. The classic '(Then Came The) Last Days Of May' which is very popular has a nice blues melody and some beautiful lead guitar passages. 'Cities On Flame' is the live staple heard many times, a riff heavy gem from the early album, and is played with passion here. The power riffs are a delight and Bloom really belts this out with a lot of volume.
'Me 262' is an 8 minute riffer that is even better than the version on "Secret Treaties"; it really rocks hard. It is followed by 'Before The Kiss (A Redcap)' that is a nice moderate track before they unleash a blues deluge of guitar energy on the 9 minute 'Maserati GT (I Ain't Got You)'. This features Dharma on extended lead solo and it is absolutely delightful to hear him break out into huge guitar improvisations as the band lock into a bluesy groove, similar to Ten Years After's Alvin Lee in some respects.
The band are reintroduced for an encore and they launch into 'Born To Be Wild', the Steppenwolf classic. This is way better and heavier than the original and it is great to hear BOC play a cover. Of course the song has grinding organ like the original, but I love Bloom's heavy vocal treatment. There is freakout of organ and guitar in the extended solo. Dharma has a killer time of it blazing out awesome chord progressions and searing variations on the riffs. They turn a relatively simple rocker into a complex sonic guitar workout.
In my opinion, having heard 5 studio albums, and some others live, this is as good as it gets for BOC. It is a live triumph capturing the early 70s vibe, and some of the best lead guitar you are likely to hear. Every song is a tour de force that slaughters the originals for sheer unadulterated in your face rock. This is the way to experience BOC, and it is proto metal as well as having moments of invigorating prog musicianship. It comes highly recommended as a 70s live treasure; a veritable masterpiece for Blue Oyster Cult.