Rolling Stone once described Black Oak Arkansas as "the pits of rock senescence . . . mindless gutbucket boogie hooked around the mealy-voiced antics of lead singer Jim Dandy Mangrum."

But that's not why the band disappeared for five years, says Mangrum, whose leathery rap is as speedy as ever: "I stopped to get out of old contracts," says Mangrum. "It worked, I'm out, I'm clean, I've got my own management, I control my own life. We've got a record's been out 'bout three months on the Hacienda label right now, we've had some good offers from the majors but I'm waiting till after the video comes out. We got a European tour set up for January, three articles in Kerrang, covers and all. The album is called 'Ready as Hell,' it's gotten all good reviews, we've had about 17. We just came back from the West Coast, we were slamming all over and they know that the Black Attack is back, which is going to be the name of the next album, it'll be about six months before that's out."

The only unfelled Oak is guitarist Ricky "Ricochet" Reynolds. "The rest of them chose to retire," Mangrum explains. The new band, which will perform at the Psyche Delly on Saturday, also features the classic three-guitar attack, and "we out there slammin', doing a lot of rock 'n' roll, play a lot of favorites from the gold albums, plus the new songs."

And, he adds, "I look better than ever, that's what the girls tell me. It's so good right now, if it gets any better, I don't think anybody's going to be able to live with me."