Monday, 28 March 2011

Black Oak Arkansas - Keep The Faith

Fine and Dandy

What more could be hankered of a far-out rock group in 1972 - cool looking long-hairs, tough band name, dual guitars, driving southern rock, and the unique bass 'n' gravel voice of a Jim 'Dandy' Mangrum.

This is a prized split gatefold vinyl possession and always played loud to boom out the Dandy rasp, and duelling guitars. There's Dandy, Goober Grin, Burley, Ricochet, Squeezebox and Dirty, and all the songs on the album were recorded 'Live and In Color'!

Every song is a killer. Title track 'Keep the Faith' opens the album, laying down the template for multi-guitar riffs, driving bass and drum, and Dandy's caustic lead tempered by soothing harmonies. 'Revolutionary, All American Boys' begins with Dandy's vocals seemingly strained beyond human capacity, until we realise that's the default rip and tear. Wonderful. These first two songs are in many ways anthemic and in this respect the songwriting is remarkably conventional.

Fourth track 'Fever In My Mind' is a favourite with Dandy's lightning speed vocal pyrotechnics, and strong lead guitar. The first track on side II begins with a camp-fire cameo, flames crackling in the background as Jim scratches out his late-night tale of the 'White-Headed Woman'. Seventh track 'We Live On Day To Day' is a good example of how the raucous lead vocal is complemented by background harmonising.

And I've kept the faith for nearly 40 years.

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