Buck Dharma

Band members                              Related acts

- Buck Dharma (aka Donald Roeser) -- vocals, lead guitar,

  synthesizers, bass


  supporting musicians:

- Billy Alessi -- synthesizers

- Richard Crooks -- drums, percussion

- Susan Evans -- percussion

- Gillis de Lang -- rhythm guitar

- Will Lee -- bass

- Dennis Dunaway -- bass

- Steve Jordan -- drums, percussion

- Greg MacGregor -- bass

- Teruo Nakamura -- bass

- Sandy Roeser -- backing vocals

- Neal Smith -- drums, percussion




Blue Oyster Cult

- Soft White Underbelly

- The Stalk Forrest Group





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Flat Out

Company: Portrait

Catalog: ARR 38124

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened); original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6112

Price: $15.00


I'll admit to being a big Blue Oyster Cult fan when I was in high school and my first couple of years in college.  Unlike some of my friends, I wasn't particularly drawn to their dark and damaged image, rather I simply liked much of their music (even if it was frequently dark and damaged).  So imagine my surprise to stumble across this album - an album I didn't even know existed.


Produced by Dharma (he also played the majority of instruments), 1982's "Flat Out" teamed the singer/guitarist with an all star cast of New York based studio musicians including drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Will Lee.  While Dharma's voice and guitar were instantly recognizable, the album came across as somewhat unfocused; imagine a bunch of demos that the rest of BOC might have decided to pass on.  Musically the collection sounded fine, Dharma bouncing between a wide variety of genres including pop ('Five Thirty-Five'), punk ('Born To Rock') , and conventional AOR ('That Summer Night').  Certainly a bit more commercial than your standard BOC release, that characteristic probably didn't sit too well with hardcore BOC fans, though there's a good chance most of them didn't even know the album existed.  As mentioned, I had no idea this collection existed until years after its release which makes me wonder how much Columbia's Portrait subsidiary did to promote it.  I sure don't recall seeing reviews in any of the major music magazines ...



"Flat Out" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Born To Rock   (Donald Roeser - Neal Smith) - 3:24   rating: *** stars

Anyone expecting to hear a BOC-styled rocker was probably going to be puzzled by the lead off track.  While it was actually quite commercial, 'Born To Rock' exhibited a surprising pseudo-punkish nervous edge - imagine early Cars and you'll be in the right aural neighborhood.  The track's highlight came with the amazing melt-down solo that closed out the song.

2.) That Summer Night   (Donald Roeser) - 3:44   rating: *** stars

'That Summer Night' found Dharma taking a stab at an '80s-styled AOR mid-tempo rocker.  Again quite commercial and radio friendly, at least to my ears the song could have easily been mistaken for an REO track.  For what it was worth the song had a curious echo sound to it - Dharma sounded like he'd phoned in his lead vocal.  

3.) Cold Wind   (Donald Roeser) - 4:38  rating: **** stars

Bolstered by some nice multi-tracked vocals (The Eagles would have been proud), 'Cold Wind ' was a pretty ballad with a nifty '50s, Western-sounding lead guitar.  The song actually came close to replicating that unique, cold, BOC sound ...  not sure how you describe it to someone who wasn't a BOC fan.   

4.) Your Loving Heart   (Donald Roeser - Sandy Roeser) - 7:12  rating: **** stars

Co-written with his wife, lyrically 'Your Loving Heart' was an interesting and somewhat disturbing concept.  Built around the hopes and aspirations of someone on the verge of death while waiting for a heart donor, the first half of the song unfolded as a pretty ballad that didn't kick into gear until Dharma cut lose with one of his most melodic solos.  And then the song morphed into one strange segment where the main character gets a heart replacement from a woman he's known.  Strange, strange, strange ...   


(side 2)
1.) Five Thirty-Five   (Donald Roeser) - 5:09  rating: **** stars

One of the album's most conventional rockers, 'Five Thirty-Five' was also one of the best performances.  Catchy and commercial, this one could have passed for a BOC track a-la 'Burnin' for You'. 

2.) Wind Weather and Storm   (Donald Roeser - R. Meltzer) - 3:35   rating: ** stars

Starting out with an acapella arrangement, 'Wind Weather and Storm' was actually kind of entertaining in a mock-jazzy, goofy kind of fashion.  Nice acoustic bass line ...  

3.) All Tied Up   (Donald Roeser) - 4:16  rating: **** stars

Of the nine tracks, 'All Tied Up' was the most BOC-ish in style and sound.  A pretty mid-tempo number with BOC's patented icy sound and a nice Dharma solo, that probably explains why it was one of my favorite performances.

4.) Anwar's Theme (instrumental)   (Donald Roeser) - 4:11  rating: **** stars

In spite of the '80s-styled synthesizers, the atmospheric instrumental 'Anwar's Theme' served as a showcase for Dharma's wonderfully melodic guitar.  Another album highlight ...

5.) Come Softly To Me   (Gretchen Christopher - Barbara Ellis - Gary Travel) - 3:32   rating: ** stars

While I don't have a problem with '50s doowop classics, I don't have a clue why Dharma included a rote cover of The Fleetwood's chestnut 'Come Softly To Me'.  For what it was worth, wife Sandy Roeser acquitted herself well on the song.  His album so he could do whatever he felt like, but it seemed like kind of waste.  Anyone ever listened to the backward tape segment at the start of the track ?