Black Oak Arkansas won a loyal and dedicated following for their good time music during the early Seventies. Although they enjoyed some album success, the American southern boogie band built its reputation on hard gigging, and constant touring. They offered a cheerful alternative to progressive rock and their music was rooted in American blues and gospel with a hint of hillbilly.
Certainly they had a strong personality up front. Jim 'Dandy' Mangrtim, their long haired lead singer, who danced around in a white fringed buckskin jacket, scraping furiously on a washboard. He also had a throaty voice that sounded like it had been burned dry with jugs of corn whisky. Jim remained a figure head for the band throughout its long career, even though it went through quite a few personnel changes. The original line up included Stanley 'Goober' Knight (lead & steel guitar, organ, vocals), Rickie 'Ricochet* Reynolds (12 string rhythm guitar, vocals), Pat 'Dirty' Daugherty (bass guitar, vocals), Harvey 'Burley' Jett (lead guitar, banjo, piano, vocals), and Wayne 'Squeezebox' Evans (drums). Together with Jim Dandy, they were featured on the band's eponymously titled debut album, released on Atco in 1971.
This included such down home titles as 'Uncle Lijiah', The Hills Of Arkansas', and 'When Electricity Came To Arkansas'. In case you hadn't guessed, the band came from the small town of Black Oak, Arkansas, where Jim Dandy was born on March 30, 1948. The rest of the band were born in nearby towns like Manilan, Jonesboro and Little Rock. As they grew up together, they formed a local gang that shared both a house, and strong musical ambitions. They got together a band called Knowbody Else, went to Los Angeles and recorded an album for the Stax label in 1969.
In 1971 they changed their name to Black Oak Arkansas, and signed to Atco. The debut album did quite well on the U.S. charts and gained them some attention in Europe. They went on to record some ten albums between 1971 and 1976, with 'High On The Hog', (1973) proving one of their most successful. This included a Top 30 hit song 'Jim Dandy', although it was actually sung by girl vocalist Ruby Starr, and not Mr. Mangrum. By the time the band recorded its third album If An Angel Came To See You, Would You Make Her Feel At Home? drummer Wayne Evans had been replaced by Tommy Aldridge, from Jackson, Mississippi.
Aldridge would become a much respected heavy rock drummer, who worked with Pat Travers, Gary Moore and Ozzy Osbourne. Aldridge first met Ozzy when Black Oak Arkansas made their first U.K. tour supporting Black Sabbath, in 1974. There was more changes within the band when guitarist Harvey Jett quit in 1975, to be replaced by Jimmy Henderson also from Jackson, Mississippi, who had previously been with the band Bloodrock.
The same year the band switched from Atco to MCA to record 'Ain't Life Grand followed by 'X-Rated' (1975). “Balls Of Fire” came in 1976 and armed with their new guitarist they kept up the Black Oak
tradition of playtng rock 'n' roll with fire and exuberance. Most of the tunes on the album now re-issued j on this CD, are Black Oak originals, although they cover Bob Seger's 'Ramblln' Gamblin" and offer a spirited version of the classic 'Great Balls Of Fire'. Out on the road, Black Oak added by Starr to the line up together with Hot Buttered Soul, a four girl vocal group, which introduced a black gospel sound.
The band later signed to Capricorn Records and recorded two more albums “Race With The Devil” (1977) and “I'd Rather Be Sailing” (1978). Only Jim Dandy now remained from the original line up. Jim kept the Black Oak name alive with different versions of the band on the road during the 1980's and in 1984 recorded a solo album 'Randy As Hell'. Further record success eluded the singer but at least Jim Dandy and heavy friends had succeeded in putting the name of Black Oak on the Rock 'n' Roll map of the world.
by Chris Welch, London 1995
1. Ramblin' Gamblin' Man (B. Seger) - 2:47
2. Fistful of Love - 3:19
3. Make That Scene - 2:17
4. I Can Feel Forever - 3:11
5. Rock 'N' Roll - 3:45
6. Great Balls of Fire (Blackwell, Hammer) - 2:26
7. Just to Fall in Love - 3:55
8. Leather Angel - 3:02
9. Storm of Passion - 4:36
10.All My Troubles - 3:55
All tracks written by Black Oak Arkansas except where noted.
Black Oak Arkansas
*Tommy Aldridge - Drums
*Jim "Dandy" Mangrum - Vocals
*Pat Daugherty - Bass
*James Henderson - Guitar
*Stan Knight - Guitar
*Ruby Starr - Vocals
*Marius Penczner - Keyboards
Black Oak Arkansas selected discography:
1971 Black Oak Arkansas
1973 High On The Hog