Formed more than a half-decade ago as a country gospel group, the “Oaks” underwent many stylisic, label and lineup changes before scoring a breakout top-five hit in 1977 with "Y'all Come Back Saloon.” The follow-up, "You're the One," reached No. 2, and their next album, 1978's “Room Service,” gave them their first number one hit in "I'll Be True to You" as well as two more top-five hits in "Cryin' Again" and "Come On In."
Thus established as crossover country hitmakers, the Oaks embarked on a run of chart success that would last through the 1980s. They hit number one again in 1980 with "Trying to Love Two Women." But it was the following year that would make them a genuine phenomenon. Their recording of "Elvira," an obscure, doo-wop style novelty song from the 1960s, became a major, Grammy-winning smash. Not only did it hit No. 1 on the country charts, but its infectious "oom-pop-a-mow-mow" bass vocal hook boosted it into the top five on the pop charts. Its accompanying album, “Fancy Free,” became their first to top the country charts and their biggest seller ever. The title cut of their chart-topping 1982 follow-up, “Bobbie Sue,” also went No. 1 country and nearly made the pop top 10 as well. The title track from “American Made” also topped the charts in 1983, as did its follow-up, “Love Song.” In early 1984, “Deliver” became their third No. 1 country album, and they landed two more No. 1 singles that year with "Everyday" and "I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes." In 1985, the band had three No. 1s: "Little Things," "Make My Life With You," and "Touch a Hand, Make a Friend."
The Oak Ridge Boys' sales began to slow a bit in the latter half of the '80s, but their popularity endured and they still produced big hits with regularity. They hit No. 1 with 1987‘s "It Takes a Little Rain," and "This Crazy Love," 1988’s "Gonna Take a Lot of River," and 1990’s "No Matter How High,” giving them a total of 16 career country chart-toppers and 29 top 10 hits. To this day, every time they step before an audience, the Oak Ridge Boys bring 25 years of hits and 50-plus years of tradition to bear.
With their latest album, the evergreen Oak Ridge Boys prove that they are not only enduring, they are evolving. “The Boys Are Back” is a roots-music revelation wherein the veteran quartet explores blues, country, Gospel and rock textures. Producer David Cobb brought the group styles and songs it has never attempted before, from John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” to Neil Young’s “Beautiful Bluebird,” from Jamey Johnson’s stone-country “Mama’s Table” to the blues classic “Troubl’in Mind.”
“Hold You in My Arms” comes from pop star Ray Lamontagne. Country rebel Shooter Jennings wrote the collection’s title tune especially for the Oaks. “Live with Jesus” and “You Ain’t Gonna Blow My House Down” are Nashville songs, while “Hold Me Closely” comes from Los Angeles. This album’s innovative repertoire is perhaps best illustrated by The Oak Ridge Boys’ striking version of The White Stripes’ song “Seven Nation Army.”
The Oak Ridge Boys play three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in the Celebrity Showroom at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $50 and are available by calling (800) 648-1177 or 356-3300 or by visiting janugget.com.