Tuesday, August 18, 2009

sans cowbell

Written by Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser.

"Agents of Fortune" line-up:
Eric Bloom: vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, cowbell;
Albert Bouchard: drums, vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, harmonica;
Donald Roeser: synthesizer, guitar, percussion, keyboards, vocals;
Joe Bouchard: bass, guitar, piano, vocals;
Allen Lanier: bass, guitar, keyboards.

Patti Smith: guest vocals ("Vera Gemini");
Randy Brecker & Michael Brecker: horns.

Produced by Sandy Pearlman.

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT: (DON'T FEAR) THE REAPER [BUCK DHARMA ORIGINAL 4-TRACK HOME DEMO VERSION] from "Agents Of Fortune (Remastered + Bonus Tracks)" CD (Columbia/Sony) 1976/2001 (US


Brushback said...

Not sure why I like this, but it's cool.

Empire Hancock said...

I listened to that album at work today, but not the bonus tracks. The "Reaper" demo is nice, though. And kinda spooky.

"Agents of Fortune" is one of those albums I've listened to hundreds of times, so it gets long periods of rest followed by bursts of listening and re-listening. On the surface, it doesn't seem like it should, somehow, but does still find new ways to amuse me with things I hadn't really focused on before. Right now, I am digging the hell out of the whole piano part to "True Confessions". There's something about the part under the "we're never sorry/we're never sad" section that I can't describe. It's nice and bouncy and melodic in an almost ragtime sort of way. Somehow the greatness of that little part has managed to elude me until recently. I seriously wish I could hear that song with just the piano, bass and drums. But then there's also the little string bending part under the lyric "true confessions". Sort of a twangy pedal steel mimicry. It's just this little supporting thing that's way more awesome in practice than it should be in theory.

I could go on. Man, don't get me fucking started on "Tattoo Vampire".

Löst Jimmy said...

Great choice ib!

The Blue Öyster Cult is never far away from the turntable or CD grinder here in Victory Mansions; particularly a favourite on my playlists is the stunning intro combo of Subhuman/Harvester of Eyes on the live outing 'On Your Feet Or On Your Knees...'

ib said...


You have to admit, surely, the definitive version is sheer class ?

Empire Hancock:

Good to hear from you, man. I only heard this demo for the first time a handful of evenings ago. Frequently the last to know, it wholly took me by surprise. I don't know why, precisely. A good deal less immediate than one might reasonably expect from a demo, it nonetheless succeeds in going several steps beyond mere document.

"Agents of Fortune" was not an LP I especially warmed to, first time around. "Tattoo Vampire" was the flip side of the Reaper 45 too, I think ? In light of some of your observations, I intend to give the remaster more than just a perfunctory listen.

Löst Jimmy:

I have long admired the sleeve jacket to "On Your Feet or on Your Knees" but I don't actually own it. Thanks for the tip on the live version of "Subhuman/Harvester of Eyes". Something else to seek out...

Empire Hancock said...

If you haven't had the pleasure, check out BÖC's preceding studio album, Secret Treaties. It's a little more hard-edged and dirty. Agents is just a tad more on the "commercial" side, if only a tad, and that's mostly down to the production, which has just a little more of a radio-friendly surface sheen to it. Not a criticism of that album at all, of course. It's one of those albums that's been around my ears since I was a child, I love it to death. But man, Secret Treaties is The Shit.

On Your Feet live album is also a must. Killer stuff. I'll reserve my (very) few negative criticisms of it for another time, you know, should it ever come up for discussion here.

One more thing I have to add about BÖC which can't go without saying. Buck Dharma is a totally underrated badass motherfucking demon of 70s rock lead guitar. Everything he played was so clean, and sharp, and classy in a weird way. He always seemed to have just the right thing to play for a given song, the right mood, the right approach. Give a listen to "Dominance and Submission" from Secret Treaties. Near the end of the song, he straight up kicks the door down and busts out with this totally wicked series of licks that just slices your nuts off. Zappa is my favorite guitarist ever, but for the stuff he did on on all the BÖC stuff up to Spectres, Buck Dharma is perhaps my second favorite, maybe third after D. Boon of the Minutemen (kind of an odd batch of favorites, I know :) )

Anyway... Hope everything is good with you, ib. Congratulations on getting married. Maybe not the sort of thing *I* would do ;) but if life is good and the missus treats you well, you can't hope for too much more.

Brushback said...

"Brushback: You have to admit, surely, the definitive version is sheer class ?"

Um, yeah, BOC had some good stuff. Definitely better than, say, Foghat in that regard (plus, BOC are American!). "Godzilla" has long been one of my favorite 70's hard rock tracks, and I still turn up the radio whenever "Burnin' For You" comes on (even though it's a bit glossy)...

I remember Tom Scholz or somebody from the band Boston saying once that rock lyrics weren't always important, and used "Don't Fear The Reaper" as an example of a good rock song despite crappy lyrics. I dunno, every time I listen to "Don't Fear The Reaper" I try to figure out what's so bad about the lyrics, and I don't think they're that awful...

Anonymous said...

Hi; Don't know why, but having trouble accessing or playing the BOC clip. Can you please review? Great site. Thoughtful offerings!

ib said...


Hmmm. Seems to be playing ok, now. From time there seems to be an issue accessing a particular track depending on the server status; sometimes a string issue which stops the tracking being accessed full stop.
Thanks for alerting me, regardless, and thanks for the positive feedback.

ib said...

Empire Hancock:

Interesting hit list of guitarists. The Zappa was almost a foregone conclusion, but nice to hear the confirmation. I am fond of BÖC's first and "Tyranny & Mutation".

Oh, and thanks for the best wishes.


Agreed. The lyrics to "Reaper" may be somewhat dated and cheesy, but who cares ? Every time I hear the "come on, baby" refrain I immediately picture Joey Ramone. Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" was published as a NEL paperback in the same year, I seem to recall. There is quite a bit of overlap there. He caught the same kind of critical dismissal for daring to paint a story from a primary palette.

On a similar note, it would be merely churlish not to enjoy Boston's "More than a Feeling"...

Mikel J said...
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Mikel J said...
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Mikel J said...

If it doesn't come in as an mp3 file right click on the icon... go to properties, rename and the end of the info do a few spaces and enter .mp3 that should make it playable... Ya know, I bought this as the supposed regular song from iTunes years ago. Anyone remember this group a 'Soft White Underbelly'? We had them up here in Albany a lot in the 80s...

Empire Hancock said...

First BÖC album has some very fine moments, but the production is weeeeeeeak. Tyranny is half a pretty good album. Rocks harder than the first, but the second side is a pretty sorry affair. Not to completely dump on those albums, but Secret Treaties pretty much blows them both clean out of the water.

One of my favorite little bits of classic rock minutiae is the lyric sheets for the first four BÖC albums. You could send a self-addressed stamped envelope to some NYC address and someone would mail you the lyrics to the albums printed on that striped fed dot matrix printer paper. My BÖC LPs all have said printed lyrics. It's hard to know how many survived from back in the day, but I think it's sort of a weird badge of brag amongst BÖC fans and record collecting dorks to have them. Did many other bands do that kind of thing back in the 70s?

Boston's first album is both genuinely good and also pretty ridiculous. I enjoy it unironically on both accounts. I don't know what Tom Scholz might have found amiss with the lyrics to "Don't Fear the Reaper". They were at least something other than the more typical 70s rawk texts celebrating Partyin', Lovin' and Good Times, which was more Boston's milieu (and god fucking bless them for it.)