Putting Black Oak on the map 

click to enlarge DANDY MUSIC: Black Oak Arkansas.
  • DANDY MUSIC: Black Oak Arkansas.
One of the strongest debuts of the album rock era was the eponymous “Black Oak Arkansas” LP released in March 1971. Recorded in California, “Black Oak Arkansas” was produced by Mike Pinera and Lee Dorman — members of Iron Butterfly, once a top late-1960s psychedelic rock group itself. The album’s opener, “Uncle Lijah,” set the tone for Black Oak Arkansas’s very persona — hillbilly hard rock where the multiple guitar attack might mix with a scrub board or banjo. Black Oak’s home state gets name-checked with the bluegrassy “The Hills of Arkansas,” and “When Electricity Came to Arkansas,” which closes side two. Just before the closer is “Lord Have Mercy On My Soul,” a spiel on the duality of man on par with those written by Robert Louis Stevenson or Prince. Side one’s closer is a six-minute rock tour-de-force called “I Could Love You.” Side two of “Black Oak Arkansas” opens with “Hot and Nasty,” which became a staple of the band. In 1989, the Beastie Boys sampled the opening drum beat of “Hot and Nasty” for “Shadrach,” a single from their ambitious rap album “Paul’s Boutique.” The members of Black Oak Arkansas — lead singer Jim “Dandy” Mangrum, Pat “Dirty” Daughtery on bass, Stanley “Goober” Knight on guitar and organ, Rickie “Ricochet” Reynolds on 12-string, Harvey “Burley” Jett on guitar, banjo and piano, and Wayne “Squeezebox” Evans on drums — mostly came from Southern Baptist families in Northeast Arkansas. Mangrum’s mother was said to be a Sunday school teacher. A fascination with spiritualism can be found on Black Oak’s first few albums. But while hippie mysticism — especially the free love part — was embraced, BOA gave it a post-1960s kick. The backdrop of the front and back of the album cover of “Black Oak Arkansas” is a map of the state of Arkansas, with the tiny town of Black Oak, east of Jonesboro in Craighead County, written in and circled. Butch Stone of Blytheville — Black Oak’s manager, with whom members of the group would later have legal wranglings for decades — is credited as the “seventh brother” of the sextet, “with whom all is possible.” The group saw greater chart success in the mid-1970s — its cover of LaVerne Baker’s “Jim Dandy to the Rescue” nicked the top 25 in 1974. But, in many ways, the band’s artistic peak was achieved, as Stone says, “right out of the gate” with its 1970 debut. Hence, Black Oak Arkansas does not always enjoy the respect other bands of the era have. The band Black Oak Arkansas was never exactly a critics’ darling, even at its peak, but the album “Black Oak Arkansas” can qualify as a rock ’n’ roll classic, which helped usher in the hard album rock sound that dominated the 1970s, and begat the hair metal of the 1980s and the grunge of the 1990s. The album covers a lot of ground — from the band’s barrelhouse cover version of the country classic “Singin’ the Blues,” written by Drasco-born Melvin Endsley, to the pop-rock sounds of “Memories at the Window.” Besides “Singin’ the Blues,” the other seven songs are credited to Black Oak Arkansas, which issued a debut album with a creative focus sadly not as obvious in its later catalog. Like Guns ’N’ Roses, one of the many hard-rock bands of later years it influenced, Black Oak Arkansas’s debut is a sometimes bittersweet reminder of what could have been. But the album — and its influence on the rock ’n’ roll world — still stands. listening • “Black Oak Arkansas,” 1971 • “Keep the Faith,” 1972 • “If An Angel Came to See You Would You Make Her Feel At Home?” 1972



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Sponsors reduce cost of school voucher bill

    The school voucher bill to allow people to direct state income tax payments to a fund to pay for private school vouchers is to be amended substantially in part to cut down the potential cost to the state.
    • Mar 1, 2017
  • Guns on campus: Storm edition

    Vilonia police arrested a man who wore a bulletproof vest and brought four guns into a Vilonia school safe room full of about 300 people seeking shelter from thunderstorms.
    • Mar 1, 2017
  • The gutting of freedom of information law

    A House committee this morning approved legislation to exempt from public disclosure all records or other information "related to the operations, emergency procedure, and security personnel of the State Capitol Police." It's part of a raft of legislation aimed at crippling the Freedom of Information Act and all of it seems popular with the Republican majority.
    • Mar 1, 2017
  • More »

More by Stephen Koch

  • Charlie Wilson at Verizon Arena

    Also, Stand Up for Access Comedy Show, Max & Iggor Cavalera, Billy Joe Shaver, Daddy Issues, Pat Donohue, Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, Beer, Brats & Bots, Third Friday Argenta Artwalk, 'Key Connections to Humanity,'
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase kicks off

    Also, Intimate Apparel, Ansel Adams, Rachmaninoff, High Plains Jamboree, Black Oak Arkansas and more.
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • Young Gods of America come to Revolution

    Also, American Princes at Lost Forty and White Water, Arkansas basketball at Verizon, "The Great Russian Nutcracker" at Robinson Center Music Hall, Kwanzaa, Festivus at the Firehouse, 'The Polar Express' in Hot Springs, Noon Year's Eve at the Mid-America Science Museum and Peckerwolf and co. at Dogtown Sound.
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Arkansongs

  • Floyd Cramer's country keys

    Floyd Cramer, who grew up in Huttig, became one of the most important piano players in the development of country music.
    • May 3, 2007
  • Dorough finds his voice

    From his beginnings in Cherry Hill, Bob Dorough knew music was his thing.
    • Mar 15, 2007
  • ‘Sunday Afternoon’

    Soundtrack album forges on without film.
    • Jan 25, 2007
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Little River County gears up for Sesquicentennial

Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation