Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ozark Mountain Daredevils -- "Jackie Blue" (1974)

Who were these guys? A&M Records put out several of their albums throughout the 70's and even got the famous English producer Glyn Johns to produce their early ones in London's Olympic Studios. You can't be minor league if you are working with the man who produced and engineered The Eagles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and others.

First, imagine what a band with a cool name like the Ozark Mountain Daredevils would like like. I used to. And now that we've got a video of them playing the great "Jackie Blue" below, they look exactly how I pictured them: skinny soft spoken dudes with beards from Missouri.

I'm not quite sure how many times the Daredevils toured through the New York area, but considering that they put out several albums, a couple with rather off the wall titles (The Car Over The Lake Album, Don't Look Down), they clearly had their following. Powered by two big hits early on ("If You Want To Get To Heaven" and "Jackie Blue"), they kept chugging it out for A&M right through to the 80's.

The funny thing about 70's southern rock is that outside of the Allman Brothers Band, a lot of these bands didn't pin their material on the blues, but incorporated jazz, soul, gospel, and sometimes just straight ahead rock. There was nothing really "Southern" about "Jackie Blue" except the Gibson slide licks during the choruses. Alternating between minor key choruses and major key verses, drummer Larry Lee handled the falsetto lead vocals, veering the song into pop territory.

Ooh-hoo, Jackie Blue
Lives her life from inside of a room.
Hides that smile when she's wearin' a frown,
Ooh Jackie, you're not so down.

You like your life in a free-form style,
You'll take an inch but you'd love a mile.
There never seems to be quite enough,
Floating around to fill your lovin' cup.

Ooh-hoo, Jackie Blue,
What's a game, girl, if you never lose.
Ask a winner and you'll prob'bly find
ooh Jackie, they've lost at sometime.

Don't try to tell me that you're not aware,
Of what you're doing and that you don't care.
You say it's easy, just a nat'ral thing,
Like playing music but you never sing.

Ooh-hoo, Jackie Blue,
Making wishes that never come true.
Going places where you've never been,
Ooh Jackie, you're going again.

"Jackie Blue" was mostly not "rock" enough to play on classic rock stations, so you'd periodically hear it on the oldies stations. I never knew more about the band but writing about them now makes me curious to listen to more of their stuff on

One interesting note: just as UK bands traveled to the US to get a "big American sound" using their producers (see the post about Simple Minds and Once Upon A Time's "Alive and Kicking"), you sometimes find it going the other way around. It's interesting that distinctly American country-rock bands like the Eagles and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils recorded their early albums in London, and their sound doesn't sound any less "American."

Below is the Ozark Mountain Daredevils performing "Jackie Blue" on the great UK TV show, Old Grey Whistle Test, in 1976. Listen to how closely they mike Lee's vocals.

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