Buck Dharma - Flat Out

Buck Dharma – Flat Out


Buck Dharma’s ‘Flat Out’ solo album was an interesting 1982 AOR excursion from the long time BOC guitarist.

Written by: gdmonline

ARTIST: Buck Dharma (Roeser)
ALBUM: Flat Out
LABEL: Portrait
YEAR: 1982
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser – vocals, lead guitar, drums, synthesizer * Sandy Roeser – vocals, backing vocals * Rick Downey, Neal Smith, Steve Jordan, Ron Riddle, Richard Crooks – drums * Dennis Dunaway, Will Lee, Craig MacGregor, Teruo Nakamura – bass * Giis de Lang – additional rhythm guitar * Billy Alessi – synthesizer * Spyke Grubb – backing vocals * Richie Cannata – saxophone, clarinet, and horn arrangement * Sue Evans – percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Born To Rock * 02 That Summer Night * 03 Cold Wind * 04 Your Loving Heart * 05 Five Thirty Five * 06 Wind Weather And Storm * 07 All Tied Up * 08 Anwars Theme * 09 Come Softly To Me



I recall a skint little review of this Buck Dharma album in UK’s Sounds Magazine back in 1982. I loved those little one or two paragraph reviews from the likes of Steffan Chirazi, Mark Putterford and Xavier Russell. Blue Oyster Cult man Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser being one of the recipients of such an award.

Before I progress, how the hell did Donald Roeser land a handle like Buck Dharma? Did he enter a bucking bull competition or something? I’m sure there’s an answer to it all, hopefully it’s not a rude one. Actually I do know the answer, you can blame Manager Sandy Pearlman for trying to give all the Blue Oyster Cult members a stage nickname. None of them stuck, except for Roeser’s.

By 1982, Blue Oyster Cult had persisted for about five or six years running down an AOR like path. It all took off for them courtesy of 1976’s ‘Agents Of Fortune’ and their mega hit ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ which was radio friendly and FM Radio’s best friend for many years.

Subsequent Blue Oyster Cult albums followed suit, and I have to say I enjoyed many of them. ‘Spectres’, ‘Mirrors’, ‘Fire Of Unknown Origin’ etc. 1982 saw lead guitarist Roeser opt for a solo album, and if I remember rightly, he’s the only Blue Oyster Cult member to do so.

The Songs

Only the nine songs, and it’s a diverse set. Much of Blue Oyster Cult’s hits had been written by Buck Dharma, but many of his songs weren’t a good fit, so they ended up on ‘Flat Out’. The opener ‘Born To Rock’ is a frantic opener, part power-pop played in (excuse the pun) flat out mode.

‘That Summer Night’ is a big booming track, with qualities and attributes straight off that first Arcangel album, especially the drum work. I love the way the effects for the vocals kick in on the chorus, weaving and phasing all over the soundscape. ‘Cold Wind’ sounds like it’s been plucked off the Texan range by the Pure Prairie League and given an AOR grilling. Sounds great though.

‘Your Loving Heart’ might sound like an acoustic love song of the heart, but upon closer inspection of the lyrics, you’ll notice it’s a song about a heart transfer recipient. Very clever and witty, and the whimsical music is very deceptive. I bet that’s the Blue Oyster Cult element coming out of Roeser’s songwriting!

If you’ve ever had to run for a peak-hour train, then ‘Five Thirty Five’ will be right up your alley, with it’s foot-stomping chorus and urban rock n roll rabble. The next track ‘Wind Weather And Storm’ is a bit of a weird one, kinda like Billy Squier‘s ‘The Stroke’ but played in a more subdued way with barber shop harmony vocals all over the place.

Melodic to the core, ‘All Tied Up’ is a tighter radio oriented affair similar to some of the material found on ‘Mirrors’. The instrumental ‘Anwar’s Theme’ is a rather cool track but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard Buck Dharma (or Blue Oyster Cult for that matter) undertake. It’s a prowling at-night type of theme, be good for a cop show or something, with it’s thumping bass and dramatic guitar work.

Vocal acapella’s abound on the finale ‘Come Softly To Me’, another unusual attempt from Buck Dharma, but I guess that’s to be expected from the key songwriter from one of rock’s more wackier bands.

In Summary

Unusual and diverse, you won’t be getting straight down the middle rock n roll from this guy. I don’t recall the Buck Dharma album doing anything major in terms of chart activity back in 1982, and it was no surprise that Roeser returned to Blue Oyster Cult for 1983’s ‘The Revolution By Night’.

In the reissue stakes, Wounded Bird put ‘Flat Out’ back in 2008 while Rock Candy Records have just reissued this on their roster, another deserving effort, while the essay-liner notes should make for some interesting reading.


Born To Rock

Buck Dharma - Born To Rock

Your Lovin’ Heart
Buck Dharma - Your Loving Heart

Entire Album (Select Tracks)
Playlist: Buck Dharma - Flat Out
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