When having discussions about the greatest Southern rock bands of all time, fans usually spit out names such as The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, Marshall Tucker Band, or the Charlie Daniels Band. One band that will seldom come up is Black Oak Arkansas. The band was originally formed in 1963 under the name “The Knowbody Else.” The band “The Knowbody Else,” would sign with Stax Records in the late 1960’s and release a self titled album in 1969. Since the album did not sell well, the band returned to Arkansas and changed their name to Black Oak Arkansas.
The legendary co-founder and president of Atlantic Records Ahemt Ertegun was supposedly a fan of Mangrum’s original vocal style. Black Oak Arkansas signed with Atlantic Records in 1970 and released their debut album under their new name in 1971. The band developed a loyal following in the 1970’s due to their brand of southern rock juxtaposed against a spiritual southern boogie inspired by their Southern Baptist roots.
Standing center stage was the band’s lead singer, Jim Dandy Mangrum. The singer’s voice and looks were contradictory in nature. With his long blonde hair, slim build, tight as hell pants that defined his religion; Jim Dandy Mangrum set the mold for the persona of late 1970’s rock stars like David Lee Roth and the eventual hair band movement of the 1980’s. However, Mangrum’s voice was more bitter than sweet, and stood in stark contrast to singers like David Lee Roth, Bon Jovi and others. Mangrum’s voice was more Tom Waits meets Axle Rose.
Defining the sound of Black Oak Arkansas beyond Jim Dandy Mangrum’s legendary voice were a band of musicians that lit it up on a nightly basis. The bands twin lead guitar sound echoed the styles of The Allman Brothers Band and Thin Lizzy. In 1972, the band added drummer Tommy Aldridge whose double bass drum playing kicked the band into an even heavier gear. In the early years it was Harvey “Burley” Jett and Rickie Lee “Risky”/”Ricochet” Reynolds that served as the bands guitar players. On bass, the band featured Pat “Dirty” Daugherty. From 1977 on, the band went through many personnel changes which actually is quite an understatement. Over sixty musicians have performed as members of Black Oak Arkansas.
For those of you who may have never heard of the band, we hope our Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas List serves as a welcome introduction to a band that rocked the world of young teenage rock fans in the 1970’s classic rock era.
# 10 – Full Moon Ride
Starting out our Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas Songs list is the killer track “Full Moon Ride.” The song first appeared on the Black Oak Arkansas album If an Angel Came to See You, Would You Make Her Feel at Home? The album was released in 1973. It was the band’s third studio release. The song’s opening minor chord guitar licks set the tone for Jim Dandy Mangrum’s haunting vocals cast in the shadows of a late 1960’s psychedelia.
# 9 – Hey Ya’ll
Black Oak Arkansas 1974 album Street Party featured one of their all time big hits “Hey Ya’ll.” The album served as the follow-up to the band’s most successful album of their career High On The Hog. There was nothing like catching a live Black Oak Arkansas show. Check out this great dual guitar opening to the “Hey Ya’ll,” track recorded live at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
# 8 – Jim Dandy
Coming in at No 8 on our Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas list is the great track “Jim Dandy.” The song was issued on the very successful High on the Hog album which was released in 1973. This was one of those great party songs that never actually became a popular party song. But for a time, it did get some great airplay. And oh by the way, the video also features the great Ruby Starr. This video was taken from the legendary Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert television show.
# 7 – Up
The amazing performance of “Up,” hailed as one of the greatest Black Oak Arkansas Songs, closed out their magnificent live album Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live. The album was released in 1972. The song featured one of the most exciting pure rock and roll drum solos ever captured on vinyl. Don’t miss Tommy Aldridge’s powerhouse drum solo on this one. Aldridge’s performances and recordings throughout his career proves that he should go down as one of rock’s greatest drummers alongside the likes of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, Rush’s Neil Peart, and The Who’s Keith Moon.
# 6 – Hot And Nasty
The great Black Oak Arkansas song “Hot and Nasty,” was originally released on their debut album in 1971. The song opened up the album’s second side. The album was produced by Lee Dorman & Mike Pinera. The song also appeared as the sixth track on their Raunch ‘n Roll Live album released in 1973.
# 5 – Mutants Of The Monster
Also appearing on the great Raunch ‘n Roll live album, was the kicking track “Mutants Of The Monster.” The song was first released on the band’s third studio album If an Angel Came to See You, Would You Make Her Feel at Home? How could you not love the song’s great opening slick and creepy bass line? Just one of those perfectly named tunes. This video hails from the legendary California Jam concert of 1974. The concert featured some of the most iconic bands in the history of classic rock. Appearing at the festival besides Black Oak Arkansas were bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Seals and Croft, Rare Earth, The Eagles, and Earth Wind & Fire.
# 4 – Hot Rod
“Hot Rod,” was released on the Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live album. So many of the songs on our Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas list can be found on their legendary Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live album. It was a record that defined what made Black Oak Arkansas such an important band in defining the raw sound of early 1970’s American classic rock and the shift away from the British Invasion sound of the 1960’s.
# 3 – Gigolo
With an onstage persona such as the one presented by Jim Dandy Mangrum, it’s no surprise that the band would compose and record a song entitled “Gigolo.” The song however defined not only the band’s great dual guitar sound but it also gave fans a track that transcended this line between southern rock and southern soul. The song “Gigolo,” was released on the Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live album.
# 2 – When Electricity Came To Arkansas
One of the particulars that separated Black Oak Arkansas from any other rock band of the classic rock era was Jim Dandy’ Mangrum’s use of the washboard. This great video from the legendary California Jam concert is the perfect presentation of Jim and his washboard. That aside, it’s also one of the greatest Black Oak Arkansas songs the band ever released. “When Electricity Came To Arkansas,” was issued on the Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live album.
# 1 – Gettin’ Kinda” Cocky
Landing in the Number One spot on our Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas songs list is the outstanding track “Getting Kinda Cocky.” Once again, the band composed and recorded a song that defined their spirit and Mangrum’s stage persona. The song was released on the Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live album. It was the live album’s opening track that simply defined how special the song was. When you’re trying to make a statement you try to make it immediately. Opening your best album with your best track is further proof as to why the song “Getting Kinda Cocky,” has landed in the number one position on our Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas Songs List!
Top 10 Black Oak Arkansas Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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Written by Tom Neokleous