Is it metal, harrowing hard rock, cow punk?
The question has existed in Black Oak, Arkansas since 1963 when the genius that is Jim “Dandy” Mangrum conceptualized the band of which became his nom de plume. Perhaps one of the greatest Southern Rock bands ever, especially the one that most so-called classic rock fans aren’t even remotely privy to. The holy trilogy thereof including ZZ Top and everybody’s favorite boys from Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd, in my ever modest opinion.
Don’t believe me? Here’s proof, alas, featuring some of your musical heroes to back me up. Mutants Of The Monster: A Tribute To Black Oak Arkansas is purely rock-n-roll with all cylinders blown and no cruse control. The line-up of guests reads like any rocker’s recent playlist, indulging members of Whiskeydick, Kentucky Bridgeburners, ANTiSEEN, Nine Pound Hammer, Mercyful Fate, Nashville Pussy, Shooter Jennings, Melvins and Butthole Surfers, Lucero, Supersuckers, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, both original Black Oak Arkansas lead guitarist Rickie Lee Reynolds and the great, Jim Dandy (on separate tracks, of course), and even a retired All-Pro NFL Offensive Lineman with Willie Nelson’s harp player!
Not to mention, the records smokes from play, that being a rousing version of “Hey Y’all” featuring Blaine Cartwright and the ever beautiful Ruyter Suys of Atlanta’s Nashville Pussy and the Kentucky Bridgeburners. An anthem like southern greeting in the form of an audible boot square in the face to kick off the earth-shaking rock-n-roll collection of Black Oak Arkansas covers.
Jimbo Mathus’ vocals and ol’ Robby Turner’s pedal steel turn in a dustup of a number on “Uncle Lijiah” with presenters and backing band for the tribute record (and one of the greatest band names I’ve ever heard) Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre. Who deem themselves a powerful foundation of rock blocks and chops for said guests to do their particular things over throughout almost the entire album. Comprised of Joey Killingsworth’s guitar, Daryl Stevens’ drums, and Brian Costner’s bass. And for the record, Mr. Turner’s ending steel solo is jaw-dropping, Jimbo’s vocals always kill.
Other highlights include, but are not limited to, a splendid cover of “When Electricity Came To Arkansas” featuring Greg Ginn of Black Flag and Black Oak’s own Rickie Lee Reynolds’ guitar work as well as Jeff Clayton of ANTiSeen’s vocals, a particularly killer version of “Hot And Nasty” with vocals by Supersucker Eddie Spaghetti and a guitar solo from Lucero’s Brian Venable, and Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra and the aforementioned Ruyter Suys turn in a spectacular performance of personal record favorite “Jim Dandy”.
The take away for me is plainly Whiskeydick’s version of “High’n’Dry”, so forcefully full of emotion and beauty, it’s a big man’s anthem. One I can’t seem to shake from the abyss of my music remembering brain matter. I could mosey on forever but get your own ears on Mutants Of The Monster: A Tribute To Black Oak Arkansas out now on the mighty, Saustex Records. Produced By Joey Killingsworth and studio owner/drummer/backing vocalist Dik LeDoux, both of whom, it should be mentioned, are donating all profits to The Savior Foundation. I don’t care how late this review is, this record must be on your radar.
No Depression: 12/7/16