Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1979-80)
- William Bonney (aka Jay Wilfong (aka Dr. Fong,) -- guitar, vocals
- Lord Vendetta (aka Gary Dunn)) -- bass
- Madjack (aka Jerry DeRome) -- drums, percussion
- Dr. Fong and Friends
- Poverty Progremme (Jerry DeRome and Jay Wilfong)
- Primevil (Dr. Fong)
- Scott and Modlina (Jerry DeRome and Jay Wilfong)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; includes the original inner sleeve and insert, but not the two bonus singles
Catalog ID: 1653
1979's "Buccaneer" has got a legion of fans willing and able to shell out some big money for an original copy. Nothing more than my humble opinion, but as a concept album built on the lives and times of three pirates (the inner sleeve provides the extended plotline), this was pretty laughable stuff, though that might have been the goal ...
Drummer Jerry Derome (aka Madjack) and guitarist Jay Wilfong (aka William Bonney) had both been members of the Indiana-based Poverty Programme. Wilfong had also recorded an album with the band Primvil on the famed 700 West label. With the addition of bassist Gary Dunn (aka Lord Vendetta), these guys spent a couple of years touring throughout the mid-West, collected a small but loyal following.
Self-produced, 1979's "Buccaneer" wasn't going to change your life in any respect. That said, if you adjusted your expectations, this was thirty minutes of mindless fun; perfect for cranking up on a long drive to the beach. For a trio, these guys had a surprisingly full sound, managing to avoid most of the metallic sludge that trios tend to generate. Unlike most trios, they also managed to avoid the requirement to devote a disproportionate amount of time to pointless soloing. Wilfong had a nice voice; quite commercial and proved a strong and melodic guitarist, while the Dunn-DeRome rhythm section were never less than solid. It certainly wasn't the most original collection you've ever heard, but the playing was solid and with a couple of exceptions, notably the spoken word introduction and flabby ballad 'Fantasies ' the album was a hoot.
"Buccaneer" track listing:
1.) Introduction (Buccaneer) - 3:19 rating: ** stars
Spoken narrative with goofy sound effects that set the album's plotline. Certainly helped to set the background for this concept piece, but wasn't essential. The narrator sounded like Jeff Bridges.
2.) Ride the Tide (Buccaneer) - 4:43 rating: **** stars
It took awhile for a song to actually emerge from this; literally about four minutes, but when Bonney's lead guitar finally broke free of the plodding narrative, 'Ride the Tide' turned out to be a surprisingly tight and melodic slice of hard rock. Imagine Spirit finally having figured out how to write and record a track with an actual melody and you'd get a feel for this one.
3.) Follow Me (Buccaneer) - 4:38 rating: **** stars
'Follow Me' gave the trio a chance to stretch out on a vaguely bluesy-flavored rocker. It wasn't anything special, but Wilfong used it as a nice opportunity to showcase his fluid playing and you had to admit they churned out some nice harmony vocals. Surprisingly enjoyable.
4.) Fantasies (Buccaneer) - 5:15 rating: ** stars
Experience has shown me that songs that start out with sound effects (crashing waves), tend to me pretty bad. Sadly, the ballad 'Fantasies' didn't break from the norm. The song actually had a decent enough melody and WIlfong sounded suitably earnest. What ultimate sink this one were the sophomoric lyrics and the anonymous female singer who shared lead vocals with Wilfong. The woman sounded like a twelve year old Minnie Mouse with all the sex appeal of a McNugget. Rather than romantic, this one came off as creepy and disconcerting. Admittedly the song improved when they vocals stopped and the band turned to jamming.
'Desolation' started out with a pretty acoustic guitar powered instrumental section and then morphed into a non-holds barred slice of power trio rock. Again, there wasn't a single original note or thought across these grooves, but they played with considerable energy and Dunn showed off some nice bass moves.
2.) Spanish Gold (Buccaneer) - 3:20 rating: *** stars
Yeah, it was pure early-'80s heartland hard rock, but exemplified by the elaborate vocals that showed up in the chorus, 'Spanish Gold' found the group adding a slight progressive shading to their repertoire. Nice.
3.) The Invincible (Buccaneer) - 4:45 rating: *** stars
Decent enough rocker until the tune degenerated into incidental film soundtrack complete with all sorts of pirate sound effects - swords,, cannonballs, screams ...
4.)) Sailor, Lord and Thief (Buccaneer) - 7:43 rating: **** stars
'Sailor, Lord and Thief' was another tune that got better and better as the band went into an extended jam. Powered by a killer riff that they literally beat to smithereens, this was a great way to end the album. The end of album closing narrative was needless.
The original pressing was released with a crossword puzzle insert, a Buccaneer sticker, and two bonus singles:
- 1980's 'Follow Me' b/w 'Won't Bow My Head' (Blunderbuss catalog number SO 16473)
- 1980's 'Sharkbait' b/w 'Wasted Nights' (Blunderbuss catalog number SO 16474
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