Black Oak Arkansas: Back Thar N’ Over Yonder
Big drums and bass start the chunky opener, “Plugged In and Wired,” of Black Oak Arkansas’ new one, Back Thar N’ Over Yonder. This is a chock-full, 19-song sprawling collection of songs from all different times of these infamous bad boys’ career, an official return of this ’70s band. The sweet “Sweet Delta Water,” another of the five first 2013 reunion tunes sees an even more distinct Jim Dandy vocal (sometimes he truly sounds like David Lee Roth – we see where Roth got it from – and on others, a real down-home country boy).
The boys’ attempt a loud cover of Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” then we’re into the “older” stuff (all of which works best for me). There’s the real ‘7os rock romp of the spectacularly commercial unreleased studio recording of “Gigilo” (I could tell you a first-hand story about Dandy’s prowess with the ladies…but I’ll save that for another time), the wha wha and tight drumming to the band’s pretty lousy cover of “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” (another unreleased studio recording), and the blistering quick snake of “Hot Rod” is all tight nasty rock and works perfectly.
We get into slightly later stuff on the jangly 1974 tune, “The Snake” (there’s Dandy swishing on his signature washboard). “Legal I.D.” has a wonderful, naughty lyric and piano and the remastered vocal (only) to “Jim Dandy” –why we need just that-opens into the full famous song. “Summer Swing” certainly has a cool swing from drummer Tommy Aldridge (I’m guessing here seeing this band’s personnel changes, but he was in the band at this time) and acoustic guitar mixed with electric from a 1973 unreleased studio mix. “G Wiz” is a brand new instrumental featuring some cool slide playing and again tight big rockin’ drums. There’s even the band attempting to record a commercial for fast food chain Arby’s called “Arby’s (I Want A Woman),” where the messy acoustic song gets going more than half way after all the studio talking and eating of burgers.
Mostly this album features lots of unreleased studio recordings of songs that were only ever released as live versions and that smattering of 2013 BOA. Back Thar N’ Over Yonder, from now or before, is classic BOA.