Sunday, 15 April 2012

Fine and dandy

I confess I’d never heard of Black Oak Arkansas before Friday night.  Or at the very least, any glimmer of recognition at the name was from thinking they were contestants in ‘Wacky Races’…  But, after watching ‘Sweet Home Alabama, The Southern Rock Saga’ on BBC4 that evening, followed by ‘Southern Rock at the BBC’, the name will stick in my mind for quite a while.  Or at least the imagery will.

I think most rockumentaries are interesting, no matter what the genre or how it fits with one’s taste.  I like the occasional bit of Southern Rock but have never really paid that much attention to the songs or stories of groups like the Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc., so I found ‘The Southern Rock Saga’ revealing and interesting.  Good programmes like these get behind the music and into the personalities, the tragedies and the context of the time, and that’s what makes them so fascinating.  I came away with a much higher opinion of all those guys, who had rebelled against the conservative rural farming backdrop of their roots and the limited career options it offered, whilst still managing to represent the true essence of what it is to be a Southerner.  (Well, that’s how it came across to this British viewer.)

Anyway that was good, so we carried on watching the following programme which showcased a number of bands’ BBC appearances from the 1970s:  for example, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Delaney & Bonnie.  And Black Oak Arkansas.  

Well, please do yourself a favour and watch this clip.  I don’t expect all of you to like them – the song is fairly formless and the vocals are really rough.  Bear in mind it’s from the mid seventies, so it was before the new wave of spandex-clad heavy metal bands started strutting their stuff.  But I defy you not to find the flamboyant performance of androgynous vocalist Jim Dandy utterly compelling, no matter what your musical taste, gender or sexual orientation.  Fast forward to 2 minutes 20 seconds for your first taster of the man’s unique appeal (and I’m not talking about the bulge in his trousers).  Then again, from 3 minutes 5 seconds in until the end.  Even if you just watch with the volume off, I think I can guarantee he will make you smile.


10 comments:

  1. You're signing my song now.

    Even at my snobbish and surliest worst, I never could never sneer at these fellas...never stopped listening.

    I was quite pleases on Monday when I made it from Purvis to Lumberton with Sweet Melissa (allman bros.), Simple Man and What's Your Name (Skynard)...all on the F.M.

    I'm always curious about how The South is presented. Outside of Dixie, the British, especially her historians, are the most careful with it.

    I think the latter point...remaining unapologetically Southern, is the real story here. In light of the context...the South had been taking a beating throughout the 60's. Bob Dylan and Neil Young spring to mind. Even Charlie Daniels (who originally has to be seen as part of the scene...have you ever heard Trudy?)...took a gentle and hilarious swipe..Lonesome Traveller (Last thing I wanted was to get in a fight/in Jackson Mississippi on a Saturday night).
    From the begining, rocknroll was proud to be Southron...by the late 60's that was unacceptable. These people were making a stand...while returning rocknroll to it's origins (1:20 into Call Me the Breeze...as pure a Chuck Berry moment as there's been since).

    That brings me to a point that always gets right up my nose. The very notion of Southern Rock. The acts embraced it and used it to their advantage and the term still has currency but, it's an insane notion...it's like saying Black Hip Hop. Rock n Roll music IS Southern Music.

    I'm the only that seems to be bothered though. :)

    Interviewer to Duane Allman..."What are you doing to promote peace."

    Allman..."I eat a peach for peice...the two legged Georgia kind."

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    Replies
    1. Really interesting to read that, e.f. - thank you. I shall definitely be checking out the numbers you mention - and what I've heard really strikes me as good 'driving music' too - evocative of a long empty dusty highways stretching out ahead, all heat hazes and endless horizons (although over here is more likely to be sitting in traffic on a fumey overcrowded motorway! Still, we do have a few nice quiet roads here in the rural bits!)
      My own general impressions of the South had mostly been formed (with a pinch of salt) from films and TV - a mish-mash of Deliverance, archive newsreel, My Name Is Earl, Easy Rider, Dukes of Hazzard, and a few other music documentaries (about people like Buddy Holly etc), a strange mixture, fascinating but not always complimentary... But music always crosses/transcends so many boundaries and I appreciated so much more about things after watching this documentary. I am also really appreciating the insights from 'knowing' (blog-wise!) a Real Southerner, and all the interesting things you cover over there on FC. Thank you!

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  2. "Jim Dandy"??? Is that his REAL name?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kolley!
      Real name? Apparently not - shame innit?! (But he'll always be dandy to me...)

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  3. That's one of the worst things I've heard - and funniest things I've seen!

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    Replies
    1. Indeed... I don't know what it says about me but I keep wanting to watch again and again. *Oh I'm so confused*

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  4. I started watching both programmes cynically but by the end of the second one LJ & I confessed to having enjoyed a lot of that stuff - drinking whisky whilst watching probably helped...

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    Replies
    1. Jack Daniels, I hope?
      Thanks for dropping by - nice to see you (if that's not an oxymoron, what with you being invisible'n'all...)

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  5. Eeerrrrr, maybe we just have differing definitions of Charisma??? ;o)

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    Replies
    1. Haha! Well, to paraphrase Alan Partridge talking about the 'Bangkok Chickboys', I don't find him attractive, it's just... confusing.. ;-)

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