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Mutants of the Monster: A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Go Jim Dandy! Many will think of Black Oak Arkansas as one-hit wonders and technically they'd be correct; the band only made it into the Top 40 once with their 1973 hit "Jim Dandy." But thanks to a raucous stage show and incessant touring, the band, still active today and ready to celebrate a 50th anniversary in 2017, has retained a large fan base and earned a spot in the rock history books. This nice 17-song covers album put together by and featuring Memphis band Joecephus & the George Jonestown Massacre and featuring various artists gives an idea of the love for the band as acts like Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers), Greg Ginn (Black Flag), Shooter Jennings, Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers) and the Kentucky Bridgeburners all offer contributions. Black Oak Arkansas front man Jim "Dandy" Mangrum appears too, but not singing his signature song; instead Mangrum, who has the voice of a seasoned blues man these days, growls his way through "Fever in My Mind." "Jim Dandy" is included, but Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys and Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy handle the dueling vocals originally sung by Mangrum and the late Ruby Starr. All the songs here are fun; some of the more interesting covers include a funky take on "Swimmin' in Quicksand" where JD Pinkus of the Butthole Surfers and space rocker Nik Turner of Hawkwind team up, biker anthem "The Wild Bunch" featuring vocals from Kyle Turley and bluesy harmonica from Mickey Raphael of Willie Nelson's band and "Mutants of the Monster," a downright scary exercise in horror rock with Mercyful Fate's Michael Denner on guitar. This set is a nice addition to any Black Oak Arkansas collection but it also has what it takes to stand on its own and please listeners who are unfamiliar with the original versions.

Mutants of the Monster: A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas
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