Robert H. Nunnally Jr. | Allen, TX United States | 12/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Black Oak Arkansas had released three albums prior to Raunch n Roll's early 70s release. Each of these studio albums had been heavily laden with the bluegrass, country and Memphis bar band influences which always figured into the music of this very southern band. If one had listened only to the three studio albums, one might have thought that BOA was going to evolve into a slightly more hippie-influenced Ozark Mountain Daredevils, with a foot and an ankle in the country-pop tradition, and only a number of toes in the rock mode. Raunch n Roll established that Black Oak Arkansas was first and foremost a live rock band, and that the three hundred+ days a year this band spent touring had resulted in a strong, heavy, altogether satisfying southern rock sound.Critical opinion of the time was not favorable (I seem to recall a review by Lester Bangs referring to this as music for "teenage Frankensteins"). But as with so many things, the critics missed the whole point. One example is the much-repeated press criticism that although BOA had three guitarists, they combined to sound like "one good one". This kind of critique sounded relevant in the guitar-hero-worshipping pre-punk 70s, when rock sounds were actually judged solely by the critics' impressions of the guitarist's stylings, but is wholly beside the point today. Black Oak Arkansas was a hard rock band, but they never set out to be instrumental virtuosos. Instead, they were very much self-taught musicians seeking a fun sound; rather than meeting the "politically correct" standards of rock criticism of their time, they basically took the influences around them--Memphis soul, New Orleans bar band music, liberal doses of bluegrass and country,and funnelled it through an Allman Brothers-gone-boogie sound. The result, on Raunch n Roll, is an album that consistently rocks and whose offbeat metal melodies work twenty five years after the fact. Lead vocalist Jim Dandy Mangrum's vocals, heavily influenced by blues and New Orleans "growling" vocalists, interplay with the ringing guitars and driving bass to convey that this was a band that genuinely had fun doing what they did. The album is not a perfect one. Although the band's trademark earthy live performance banter is rather subdued here, the lyrics nonetheless cross that line from merely racy over into merely sexist--with BOA, like many of its fellow bands of that era, the lyrics seem pretty old-fashioned now. Still, who could fail to enjoy songs like "Mutants of the Monster", whose lyric suggests that the new generation is called upon to eschew longevity, or "When Electricity Came to Arkansas", with its two minute scrub-board solo?Earlier in their career, BOA showed that bluegrass and rock could go places that they had not hitherto gone. Later in their career, BOA showed that a touring rock band can polish a sound over time. But Raunch n Roll is probably the high water mark for BOA, because it showed a bunch of guys from rural northeast Arkansas who had broken out of playing Fayetteville and Memphis roller rinks and broken into playing before concert audiences. Part of the album's charm is that it was recorded just after the band had started to "figure out" its sound, but before the band became old hands. This is a period piece, but a period piece well worth owning."
James D. Jones | DeFuniak Springs, FL USA | 12/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this album.It is what a live release is supposed to be,a souvenir of the event that captures the original energy and spirit.This is one of the best rock albums ever period.Lead vocalist Jim Dandy's performance is nothing less than legendary.Just one listen and it becomes obvious where David Lee Roth and Axl Rose developed much of their styles.Tommy Aldridge's drumming is excellent,better than anything I've heard him play for OZZY or anyone.His driving double bass style brings a hard edge to the music.The guitar arrangements are top notch.This band is TIGHT.Every single song is excellent.The BOA southern boogie selections are "Gettin Kinda Cocky","Gigolo"and "Hot and Nasty"."Hot Rod"is hard driving indeed with Aldridge at the wheel.The more complex,serious selections,are "Electricity"which begins with Jim Dandy's washboard and thimble intro and includes the bands vocal interpretation of power humming through the line!,"Up"a very heavy tune with a drum solo and "Mutants"the environmental-hippie classic that describes man as "an animal gone mad".Just between Jim Dandy's introduction and the first note,a man in the audience is heard shouting "MUTANT OF THE MONSTER!"Oh,how I wish that I could have been that character!"
BEST LIVE ALBUM EVER!!!
Thomas D. Christianson | Ashland, WI United States | 10/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was lucky enough to see these guys live twice in the early '70's and once in the mid 80's. Always raw, always wild and lots of fun! Jim Dandy Mangrum's antics on stage always a blast to watch. This release comes as close as possible to the energy of being there. Every song on here blows the studio versions out of the water! Southern hills party rock at it's best. HOT AND NASTY never sounded so good, WHEN ELECTRICITY CAME TO ARKANSAS, and HOT ROD are true gems. I've heard THE ALLMAN BROTHERS, LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST, hailed many times as the best live album ever made, but for power, energy, and pure kick ass fun, I believe this one leaves the ALLMAN's offering far behind in the dust. And that is not meant as an insult to the ALLMAN BROTHERS, I have the afore mentioned album on c.d., and enjoy it. It just doesn't live up to this one. The only flaw with this c.d. is that it comes in at only a little over 33 minutes. Short by today's c.d. standards. But then again, I'm not sure adding filler and fluff would have really been an improvement to an already great performance. Thanks, Tom"
One of the 70s best Live Albums.
Richard D. Cappetto | Moodus, CT United States | 02/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of great live albums came out in the 1970s and Black Oak's Raunch N Roll was definitely one of them. It simply rocks from cover to cover. Black Oak consisted of Jim Dandy who maybe was not technically a good singer but very unique and enjoyable, totally one of a kind. He was a four-runner to many of the ultra cocky singers of today. Rick Reynolds, Stanley Knight and Heavy Jett on lead and rhythm guitar, and Pat Daugherty on Bass all fine musicians and Tommy Aldridge on Drums, he is one of rock n rolls best drummers. I just love every song on this CD It starts off with a band with Gettin' Kinda Cocky a fast pace rocker with JIM Dandy extolling his cockiness. Then we go into a seven minute jam with When Electricity Came to Arkansas (Great scream--natas). It rocks. Then into Gigolo and Hot Rod too fine rockers (funny lyrics on hot rod). Then into another long rocker Mutants of the Monster. Then Hot And Nasty (maybe BOA best song) and finally closing with UP another long rocking jam. My only complaint about this CD is its too short. Would love to see them redo it and add more live tracks. But no real complaints its great to see they finally released it one on CD. I got it the first day it was available."
Follow me and find - your way back through time!
The Lyricologist | 07/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""If you believe..." OK, I'll admit it, there was a time back when I was but a wee kid, that my idea of rock and roll was stuff like "Down By The Lazy River" by the Osmond Brothers. Then, late one night, a miracle happened! I saw Black Oak Arkansas on one of the old Don Kirshner or Midnight Special concert programs and it changed my life. And yes, 30 some odd (!) years later I still say that was for the good.
Raunch and Roll was one of the very first albums I ever bought (along with Machine Head and Band of Gypsies) and it still ranks as one of my all time favorite releases.
This album is everything that rock and roll ought to be - it's loud, rude, crude, and socially unacceptable (to borrow lyrics from a later BOA song). These guys rocked, they may not have been the most accomplished of musicians, and while you can call me a backwoods uneducated mutant hillbilly, I'll take the guitar tandem of Stan Knight and Harvey Jett over those two guys in Aerosmith any day.
BOA was one of the greatest live acts in rock history and this captures them at their peak. Jim Dandy set the standard for front men and, for those who may have only known of him from his days with Ozzy or Whitesnake (or Pat Travers, or Nugent, or Gary Moore, Vinnie Moore, Thin Lizzy, etc...) Tommy Aldridge's blueprint for his incredible drum solos was captured live here, first!
Tom Dowd's production was stellar and, IMHO, is one of the biggest differences between RnR and their later (and lesser) live album, "Live Mutha".
The only thing wrong with RnR is that it screams for a full blown remastering job. Not that there's anything wrong with the sound quality. It's just that RnR went Gold, the fact that it hasn't been re-released with bonus tracks is a cryin' shame.