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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Dandy, Jim - 1984 Ready As Hell
Dandy, Jim - 1984 Ready As Hell

ARTIST: Dandy, Jim
ALBUM: Ready As Hell
LABEL: Hacienda/Heavy Metal (UK)
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Jim Dandy - lead vocals * Jon 'Thunder Paws' Wells - drums * William Lemuel - bass * Ricky 'Risky' Nunenmacher - lead and rhythm guitars * Billy Batte - keyboards and violin

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ready As Hell * 02 Here Comes The Wind * 03 The Liberty Rebellion * 04 Don't Tempt The Devil * 05 Get Ahead Of Your Time * 06 Black Cat Woman * 07 Rude And Crude * 08 Space Cadet * 09 Fascination Alley * 10 Denouncement

In the UK, The Dandy was a long running children's comic that at one point sold 2 million copies a week, but over the years like its sister comic, The Beano, fell out of favour and ceased to exist in a paper format, disgracefully just becoming an online publication, as was the plight of The Beano. Now when this album was released in 1984. The comic popularity was probably declining even then, same coul be said of Jim Dandy, well this album seemed a chance to kick start his solo career, after 15 years with Black Oak Arkansas although he couldn't shake that tie off completely and why would you, every product needs a proper marketing strategy, as that group is so much associated with Jim it appears emblazoned on the sleeve. Or was it a ruse just to keep releasing albums without the necessary right to the name, I'm not sure. Although I doubt that the marketing budget was that substantial for this album in the UK, does anyone remember the cartoon used to advertise this along with The Rejects 'Quiet Storm' album, some character called 'ed banger', or something like that, ran for an series of 1! genius bit of art, well maybe not. Well I remember this could be the worrying fact that the character's side kick resemblance was pretty close to a certain writer at that time of age, glasses, spots, mullet haircut, no dress sense, and bit nerdy. Well at least the mullets gone.

This was released in the UK alongside some quite promising reviews especially from Kerrang and I picked it up around that time, from my local WHSmith sale, played it a couple of times and then for some reason was filed away with a batch of vinyl that included over the years the likes of Fiona, Reckless (the 'No Frills' lot) and Galactic Cowboys sort of away from my main collection, possibly in my thoughts was that when I had left school this would form part of my stock for my huge chain of record shops I planned to open. Well the shops never got off the ground and there it stayed until this Xmas when with time on my hands gave it a whirl.

The Songs
It's quite strange that the album seemed to have a larger slice of my subconscious then I previously had given it credit for, although the title track has always been part of my nocturnal nemesis, just mention that words 'Ready As Hell' in any context than the song would always come to mind, with the lyrics.. 'look pretty nasty to me'. Contagious it most definitely is however I know a lot of things that are contagious you wouldn't necessary went to catch, but I find that like a tap I can turn this song on and the melody comes flooding back to me, now whether I want to be infected by it, that's another matter.

Anyway while the title is annoyingly nice it's the track 'Here Comes The Wind' which I now see in a total different light. Jim comes across as Geoff Tate's grandfather in the vocal department around the time of 'Rage For Order' and songwise could have easily found a snug home on that album. With the overload switched onto layers of keyboards could this be an undiscovered pomp classic, from the most unlikely of sources? To reinforce this position, violins even appear, chugging guitars, keyboards swarm over this like the keys were dripping with honey.

I'll gloss over 'The Liberty Rebellion' which is really a vocal intro for 'Don't Tempt The Devil', actually it's the same voice that provided the introduction to Motley Crue 'Shout At The Devil' not sure what that guy has provided voices since, maybe he got typecast, last heard providing voice overs on domestic cleaning products! I'm joking. Back to the 'Devil..' well it's probably the most 'Suvern' (spelling lesson from Kerrang) with the steel guitar being replaced by keyboards thankfully. Another good tune, piano underneath the verses with rambling Jim Dandy warnings, quite a relaxed melodic feature which portrays an image of a wicked cousin to Kansas.

With 'Get Ahead Of Your Time' seagulls and the sound of the ocean open this and I am pulled again to Queensryche again this time in terms of 'Silent Lucidity', it may sound an absurd connection, but it's a very professional moving piece, quite solid and in essence is a high quality composition.

As we cross to the other side it's only appropriate for Jim to slink back to his roots as this is heard on 'Black Cat Women', oh dear, it just creases me up when he does his best cat impressions on some of the lyrics (For British viewers may remember the appearance of Member of Parliament George Galloway impression of a cat on Celebrity Big Brother, well safe to say Galloway's reign as the top cat impressionist is safe, for the US, may remember him appearing before a Congressional hearing in 2005).

Well it's over pretty sharpish and we move onto 'Rude And Crude', which I'm amazed has not been used as a name of a Motley Crue compilation or a tribute band. Silliness apart it's not a clich? as the name portrays, as it appears with some flying keyboards which help elevate the cutting chorus and there is an interesting approach to the verses onto what is best described as a hooligan's honourable belter off fine melodic disposition.

The strangeness continues with the weird introduction of 'Space Cadet', not your usual southern topic granted and without the slightest sight of silver clown paint on show. It has recommended hard rock grounding, dispensing the cylinders of guitar fuel, and dropping off the piano cargo at the critical moments to get faster back to earth than the crew of Apollo 13. Spitting out grit as fast as a local authority gritting lorry after a snow storm.

'Fascination Alley' is a mixture of rambling Vanilla Fudge with the daily wackiness that is Devin Townsend, the vocals at times just seem to get lost and appear as another button on the synthesizer, even partly reminded more of Agent Steel, remember them?

'Denouncement', a nice piano ballad interlude finishes the album.

In Summary
To this young lad the name Black Oak Arkansas always reminded me of one of the characters vehicle on TV's Wacky Races, but I was probably getting mixed up with Arkansas Chuggabug, the Slag Brothers were always my faves, not a surprise, look at their hair, always be metal. I am still none the wiser on the direction of the album cover, what was the influence, Conan The Barbarian or a streamlined version of Thor (Canadian metal machine), with a Japanese Samurai sword in the US desert plus appearing on a label from Wolverhampton. But it's a throw back when metal and rock had a bit of fun and a touch of humour and much to do with the bravado of rock stars like Dandy. Surprisingly in places this album connection to Southern Rock, is a close to a Geordie on a night out after a win over Sunderland is to the south of England. On the topic of geography, by the way living 15 miles from Northampton doesn't mean I go out fell running every weekend, its smack bang in the middle of England. Yes there are lots of ideas contained here, at least 3 or 4 songs are ruthlessly catchy, one being a pomp classic if slightly unhinged but I love it.

Looking at old clips on you tube, Jim was pretty much a showman, with the blond flowing locks a fore runner too many that want afterwards and probably isn't given the full recognition he deserves. But in saying that for some reason I never caught up with any BOA releases, nor his follow up release 'The Black Attack Is Back' in 1986, (be careful not to get mixed up with Stryper, as if you would!) which is quite puzzling as I have tasted many southern bands in the past, the good ones and the bad, maybe it's a situation that needs to change, any one got any recommendations? Of course Jim Dandy Mangrum spent years with BOA (and still does), saddled alongside Ruby Starr to present a formidable team, again that young lady I missed, as she seemed to become an AOR sensation, have you seen her performance on 'Secrets Of The Heart' from 1983, regrettably being taken at such a young age. Jim survived enough ups and downs to provide the plot lines for numerous episodes of Casualty or any medical dramas but luckily he has managed to survive everything that has been thrown at him. The Dandy Comic is no more, but long live Jim Dandy.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 28 2013 02:39:35
I like the comparisons to Geoff Tate, and also Kansas. Definitely a Kansas sound on some tracks, no doubt due to the violin playing. Worth a listen folks..
#2 | dangerzone on February 02 2013 00:26:54
I remember listening to this years ago but for some reason I didn't think much of it. I thought his 1986 album was a better effort.
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