Buck Dharma

Flat Out

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Blue Öyster Cult vocalist/lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser released a solo album, Flat Out, as Buck Dharma in 1982. It was the year after BÖC's commercially and artistically successful Fire of Unknown Origin. It's too bad Dharma couldn't sustain that vision for Flat Out, which is generally a mess, although it has some scattered interesting moments. Dharma seems unsure which direction Flat Out should take. It's a schizophrenic mixture musically and lyrically. He plays virtually every instrument, but special guests include session wizards like bassist Will Lee and drummer Steve Jordan, new BÖC drummer Rick Downey and classic Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith. Dharma's wife, Sandy Roeser, co-wrote some songs and contributes background vocals. The production is sleek and Dharma's guitar retains its capacity to sweetly sting one's eardrums, but the songs are limp. "Born to Rock" has a punk-like edge, a few clever lyrics, and a ripping guitar solo, but it fails as an anthem. The laid-back "That Summer Night" relies on a pop melody. The best thing about "Cold Wind" is the guitar arrangement: a slow, 1950s-like electric guitar riff with lightly strummed acoustic guitar on top. "Your Loving Heart" is simply bizarre -- and embarrassing. The lyrics attempt BOC-like morbid shocks -- the song's literally about a heart transplant -- but they are laughable. The weird bridge featuring "hospital personnel" yelling out medical lingo also induces snickers. "Five Thirty-Five" is a spry, melodic hard rocker with a danceable jam at the end. The best song is the moody, soaring instrumental "Anwar's Theme." Flat Out didn't even crack the Billboard album chart.

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