Total Destruction To Your Mind - Swamp Dogg (Alive Naturalsound)
There’s probably a complicated and entertaining backstory to the career re-birth of Jerry Williams Jr, prolific soul music producer and player also known as Swamp Dogg, but the bare bones are fairly evident. In his seventh decade and after years of relative obscurity, this former flatmate of Jerry Wexler and co-writer with Gary “U.S.” Bonds has hooked up with Alive Natural Sound and opened a floodgate of re-issues - of his own work and artists he’s produced or managed - and the results are pretty cool.
You might know Swamp Dogg by sight without realising. The cover of his 1971 second album, “Rat On!”, has been cited as the world’s worst. This is the follow-up and shows him sitting on a ratty couch, wearing a saucepan on his head. The stuff of A & R men’s nightmares. The music on “Rat On!” and “1970’s Total Destruction…” is far removed from their sweeping judgements. It’s swampy soul, bereft of fancy production or adornments. It’s earthy and quirky - with streaks of country evident - but never moving far away from its slinky soul bedrock.
And it’s witty, too. Swamp has a nice line in biting social commentary (“The World Beyond”, “Redneck”, “These Are Not My People”.) Dogg’s self deprecating liner notes make it clear that for all the bombast and cockiness he’s really one funny motherfucker.
The music strides through the bayou and around the ghetto with equal ease. The title track is a blast of wiry guitar, piano and horns that’s the best thing here, but some of the less strident songs (like the incisive “Synthetic World”) work equally well.
Swamp Dogg was never going to be a teen heartthrob - he was probably too smart for that anyway - and the follow-up album had even more content that any clear-thinking “straight” label would have considered radicalised by comparison. All of which is more reason to track down this re-issue and give it a blast at high volume.