BUCK DHARMA – Flat Out [remastered] (2011)
Blue Oyster Cult’s founder member, songwriter and lead guitarist Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser released back in a day his first solo album “Flat Out”. Now is being re-issued with a 24-bit remastering treatment from original source tapes.
During BOC’s very successful career, Buck Dharma started to accumulate a back-log of quality songs that simply were not BOC-compatible.
Already known as the member of the band with the softer and melodic side, many of his contributions to BOC tended to be less abrasive and more melodically suited to radio.
Even when Roeser first demo’d ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ to the band, his bandmates thought ‘Reaper’ was too soft for BOC. Rumor has it that either lead singer-guitarist Eric Bloom or drummer Albert Bouchard threatened to quit if ‘Reaper’ was included on their next album ‘Agents Of Fortune’ (the song become the most famous BOC’s single ever).
With “Flat Out” Dharma was able to showcase his more personal musical side without the hard rock-light metal expectation associated with Blue Oyster Cult.
Opener “Born to Rock” is an interesting hybrid of hard rock-surf guitar, that shows Buck in fine form both vocally and instrumentally. Harmony vocals over an up-tempo beat and a whammy bar beat into submission had the BOC faithful’s hope climbing high thinking this would be a sign of things for the rest of the album.
“That Summer Night” is a solid mid-tempo rocker heavy on background harmonies; lyrically one could see how BOC never would’ve done this.
“Cold Wind” has layered clean guitars, 80’s synthesizer zooms and whoops, and layers of harmony vocals with some early AOR atmosphere.
On “Your Loving Heart” Dharma showcases his epic side with a multi-section 7+ minute slab of soft, progressive rock, featuring soaring guitars, hospital sounds, and backing vocals galore.
“Five Thirty-Five” is an uptempo pop-rocker, “Wind, Weather and Storm” is a curious tune that best could be described as prog-pop with spaced drums and sax, defintely different material from BOC standards.
“Anwar’s Theme” is an indication of Roeser eventual foray into movie soundtracks. It’s an instrumental track with the typical ’80s OST sound, where Dharma plays drums himself (extremely compressed in the mix) including some stellar, melodic guitar playing.
Final track “Come Softly To Me” is a vocal showcase for Buck and his wife Sandy, they perform this Fleetwood’s hit a capella with some ethereal background instrumentation.
“Flat Out” captures a veteran performer comfortable in showcasing his own true musical preferences. Dharma shows his artistic integrity here by sticking to his guns, and making ‘his’ album rather than trying to come up with merely an emulation of Blue Oyster Cult.
Buck’s silken vocals, justifiably, dominate the album and do much to create the smooth and melodic atmosphere; nowhere does he ever try and pull an Eric Bloom by sing-shouting-growling which, quite frankly, would not suit the material on “Flat Out”. The harmony vocals are stellar and demonstrate Roeser’s fascination with American classic rock.
Sadly under-promoted, the album disappeared without notice, until it was reissued on CD ten years ago. Out of print, now is re-issued with a good remastering job.
Buck Dharma’s guitar skills, sense of melody, and romantic lyrical sensibilities make “Flat Out” an album well worth searching out.
Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser: Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums
Neal Smith, Richard Crooks, Rick Downey: Drums
Dennis Dunaway, Teruo Nakamura: Bass
Billy Alessi: Synths
Richie Cannata: Horns
Sandy Roeser, Spike Grubb: Backing Vocals
BUY IT !