Let us, dear reader, turn to the strange case of Jerry Williams, aka Swamp Dogg. In 1970, tired of playing “second banana” and biding his time as a “jukebox” for other people’s songs while getting screwed over in the royalties department in the process, the deep soul and R&B singer decided to reinvent himself. “So,” in his own words, “I came up with the name Dogg because a dog can do anything, and anything a dog does never comes as a real surprise; if he sleeps on the sofa, shits on the rug, pisses on the drapes, chews up your slippers, humps your mother-in-law’s leg, jumps on your new clothes and licks your face, he’s never gotten out of character. You understand what he did, you curse while making allowances for him but your love for him never diminishes.”
Dogg’s reinvention, which was apparently aided by an LSD trip, allowed him to turn his attention to, in his own words again, “Sex, niggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution and blood transfusions (just to name a few),” without ever getting out of character. Recorded at Muscle Shoals and Macon, Georgia with a bevy of incredibly talented session guys, the songs on Dogg’s 1970 debut LP Total Destruction to Your Mind are every bit as strange as the album’s cover, which shows Swamp Dogg in his underwear sitting on a pile of garbage. One of a kind he is. If you have any doubts, check out his Christmas album, which boasts the wonderful title, “An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year.”
No, there’s no doubt about it, Swamp Dogg is one of a kind. The very soulful “I Was Born Blue” posits a world in which Dogg is blue and the rest of the world has orange skin and green hair; “Sal-A-Faster” is, I think, a hilarious testimonial to the wonders of LSD. But who knows? As for the horn-fueled “Dust Your Color Red,” I have no idea whatsoever what Swamp Dogg is talking about, or to be more accurate, testifying about.