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Black Oak Arkansas

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iTunes Review

There would’ve been no David Lee Roth had Black Oak Arkansas frontman and washboard player Jim “Dandy” Mangrum never been born. Roth’s flowing locks, shirtless backbends, and sassy command aped Dandy to a turn. But, unlike Roth, Dandy and his hometown-named band were true Southern originals who were sometimes dismissed as hillbillies. Yes, Dandy can sound like someone’s kooky gin-swilling uncle from the Delta telling mad stories around a campfire (“The Hills of Arkansas,” which soars on harmonies and pedal steel guitar), but other times he’s the inescapable leader of a rock ’n’ roll chain-gang (“Hot and Nasty”). “Uncle Elijah”—the redemptive yarn of knife-wielding gambler—is really amped-up country with a killer shuffle and lots of picking. The pretty “Memories at the Window” is hardly Southern rock; rather, it’s a folky gaze at nostalgia wrapped in a bit of West Coast psych (this 1971 debut album was recorded in L.A.). Dandy raises tent-revival hellfire on “Lord Have Mercy on My Soul,” and he and the band get downright poppy—in a winning, almost satirical way—on “Singing the Blues.”

Customer Reviews

In the vanguard of Southern Rock

This is a great album! It has, as do most groups' first albums, a rawness and edge that hadn't been airbrushed out with later, more expensive production. The sound is, in places, more like hillbilly country with rock undertones, owing to some of the members' small-town roots in northeastern Arkansas, while in other places the listener can hear the Delta blues influence the band would have drawn from its black neighbors. It's not the same Southern Rock sound that would be more refined by later groups like Lynyrd Skynyrd, but one can definitely hear the blossoming of the genre in the music. "When Electricity Came to Arkansas" is definitely a rocking instrumental party song, while "Uncle Elijah" and "The Hills of Arkansas" draw from the group's country roots. Jim "Dandy" Mangrum's vocals aren't as smooth and refined as singers like Gregg Allman or Ronnie Van Zandt, but they have an edge that make Black Oak Arkansas' sound unique among Southern rockers. Definitely an album worth getting.

After all these years, it's finally on CD!

All right! It's about time this album became available. After years of most of their original albums not being available on CD, I gave up my monthly checks. I was surprised when iTunes actually found cover art for the tracks I recorded of my LP. This is a fantastic album for any fan of hard southern blues rock, mountain music, or psychedelic freak-out hippy music. No kiddin'.

Power Unleashed

Saw these guys play the Memphis State Homecoming concert in 1970, warming up for the James Gang.....and they blew the James Gang right off the stage. They were called back for encore after encore....Hot and Nasty! The set they played that night was the playlist on this album....the guitars thundering, the drums pulsing, and Jim Dandy's washboard adding a machine-gun staccato. I went out and bought this album at an all-night record store immediately after that concert. Never before or ever since have I seen that much energy poured out on stage. Bravo Black Oak! Bravo!


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...
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Black Oak Arkansas, Black Oak Arkansas
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