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High On the Hog

Black Oak Arkansas

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Album Review

This is probably the best-known album in the Black Oak Arkansas catalog, thanks in large to part to its hit cover of the LaVern Baker R&B classic "Jim Dandy." This effective update combines a countrified touch, some electric guitar fireworks, and a frenetic double-time tempo with the inimitable hillbilly vocals of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum to create a song that became a hit with both country and pop listeners. It is definitely High on the Hog's undisputed highlight, but the other tracks surrounding it also have plenty to offer. Although they were too eccentric a band to fit a strict "Southern rock" label à la Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Oak Arkansas did have an ability to dish up both country and rock sounds with style. For instance, "Red Hot Lovin'" is a punchy rocker about the joys of loving a red-haired woman, while "Back to the Land" is a tribute to rural life delivered in a convincing, pure country style. Elsewhere, the group also shows a surprisingly ability to mix elements of pure funk into their country-rock stew: "Swimmin' in Quicksand" glides along on some funky wah-wah guitar licks that could have been lifted from a Funkadelic record. The band also gets a solid showcase for their chops on "Moonshine Sonata," a tasty little instrumental that starts off as sprightly country-rock rave-up before shifting into a down-home ballad tempo for a surprisingly lovely and mellow finale. In the end, High on the Hog probably won't appeal to anyone who isn't already a Southern rock fan, but anyone who enjoys this genre will find plenty to like on this album. ~ Donald A. Guarisco, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1970 in Black Oak, AR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Southern rock veterans Black Oak Arkansas never quite achieved the level of success enjoyed by contemporaries like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, but have remained a cult band thanks to their raw, primitive energy and the testosterone-fueled antics of lead vocalist/showman James "Big Jim Dandy" Mangrum. Named for Mangrum's hometown, Black Oak Arkansas eventually built up a solid following through incessant touring and enjoyed a run of ten charting albums between 1971 and 1976. The band also...
Full bio

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