Black Oak Arkansas

Live at Royal Albert Hall

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This DualDisc release of Black Oak Arkansas serving up their fierce and raunchy take on Southern boogie rock for their British fans features no helpful information on when it was recorded, but given the set list (which is dominated by tunes from Street Party and Ain't Life Grand), it was probably about 1975, when Black Oak Arkansas' popularity had peaked but they were still capable of tearing it up on-stage. And while the audio on this recording is unfortunately on the thin side, with the three-guitar attack of Ricky Reynolds, Stan Knight, and Jimmy Henderson not sounding nearly as loud and proud as it deserves, the band's physical power still manages to come through, largely thanks to Tommy Aldridge's powerhouse drumming and the freakishly outsized voice and personality of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum. While Mangrum could sound reasonably coherent and philosophical on numbers like "Mutants of the Monster" and "Halls of Karma," he was truly in his element when he was freed up to howl like some lascivious caveman, and on "Hot & Nasty," "Jail Bait," and "Back Door Man" he milks his horny bellow for all it's worth, and you can't deny that the act works. Mangrum's musical partners give as good as they get from their leader on this set, and despite the dodgy mix there's a great dirty energy to this performance that comes through even stronger on the DVD side of the disc (though be aware that Mangrum's tight pants would earn this at least a PG-13 as a theatrical release). This is a solid blast of Deep South boogie from guys who knew how to do it, and it still sounds unapologetically wild three decades on. Go Jim Dandy!

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