Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mutants of the Monster: A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas

Presented by Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre
2016 –  Saustex Records
By Phillip Smith; Aug. 27, 2016

Tribute albums may come and go, but Mutants of the Monster – A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas is one special album not to be glossed over.   I’ve been anxiously awaiting this fabulous record for quite a while, and am pleased as punch to hear.  I’ve been soaking up its goodness for a week now, and grin like a possum for the duration of every listen.  Six years in the making, Mutants of the Monster started out as a labor of love of BOA by Joey Killingsworth (Jocephus & The George Jonestown Massacre). He recorded “Fever in My Mind” with the GJM and BOA’s Jim “Dandy” Mangrum on vocals. Shortly afterward, Killingsworth enlisted Shooter Jennings to record vocals for “Hot Rod”, another BOA track GJM had recorded.  Then Bob’s your uncle - and six years later we have Mutants of the Monster, a ferocious seventeen track album of Black Oak Arkansas covers, with a slew of terrific guest musicians and vocalists.

When I first heard “Hey Y’all” roll out at the top of the album with Nashville Pussy’s Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys , chills shot up and down my spine, with the realization this is going to be one bodacious and serious salute to one of the best American bands that rolled out in the Seventies. Jimbo Mathus belts out a rollicking “Uncle Lijah” with Robby Turner (Sturgill Simpson) laying down a thick coating of lush steel guitar.  Shooter Jennings rips it up on “Hot Rod” with a downright amazing performance backed by a cool-as-hell performance by GJM’s drummer Daryl Stevens. I can’t help but fall prey to the groove of “Swimming in Quicksand”.  I love the blasts of sax from Nik Turner (Hawkwind) on this favorite which JD Pinkus from Butthole Surfers masters the vocals on.  Bill Davis (Dash Rip Rock) unleashes a racing punk performance on “Short Life Line” for a pure adrenalin rush.  With Jeff Clayton (AntiSeen) on the mic and Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers) wailing on guitar, “Lord Have Mercy On My Soul” sounds so damn good.  This is one of my favorite cuts.  For an unexpected treat, Jello Biafra from my favorite US punk band, The Dead Kennedys brings his unique vocal style to “Jim Dandy” while Ruyter Suys rocks out on guitar and backup vocals.  When Nine Pound Hammer tackles “Rock ‘N’ Roll”, my brain goes into Frank Zappa mode.  This one is very cool indeed.  Another sweet little treat for this outlaw fan is hearing Kyle Turley taking on “The Wild Bunch” with gusto and true grit.  In addition, this track also hosts Mickey Raphael on harmonica, adding to the cowboy imagery made famous by the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone.

Other notable guests include BOA’s own Rickie Lee Reynolds and Jimmy Henderson, Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers), Brian Venable (Lucero), Greg Ginn (Black Flag), Whiskydick, CT (Rwake) Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond), and The Kentucky Bridgeburners).  Mutants of the Monster certainly captures the essence of Black Oak Arkansas, a pioneering band who pushed beyond the paradigms of rock and roll itself.  Kudos to Joey Killingsworth and his band, Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre for gathering up this wondrous troop of musicians, to shine the spotlight on one of the greatest bands there ever was.    

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