Graded on a Curve: Sweathog,
Sweathog

Lookie here: This here reviewer wouldn’t be talking about this here album if this here band hadn’t come up with their name a good 4 years before Welcome Back Kotter made its television debut in 1975. Or if the band hadn’t slapped a salacious pair of ass cheeks on the front sleeve of its eponymous debut Sweathog, raising a lot of censorious eyebrows when it oinked its way into record stores back in 1971.

You’d think I have better ways to spend my time than reviewing LPs based on such trivialities. But you’d be wrong, so here goes: Sweathog was a San Fran band that scrapped the Bay Area’s prototypical hippie shuck and jive in favor of a slightly less MOR alternative to the likes of such corporate monopolies as Chicago, Three Dog Night, and Grand Funk Railroad.

Sweathog dished out a highly resistible hash of rock, funk, gospel, and misspelling (“Layed Back by the River”), and while you probably won’t want to actually listen to Sweathog much, its caboose of a cover will look simply fabulous on the wall of the basement you refuse to go into because you bought your house from the Smurls, the West Pittston, Pennsylvania family whose claims of a cellar poltergeist culminated in Papa Smurl’s claiming he’d been raped–twice–by a scaly she-crone with a young girl’s body and green gums. You can read all about his awful ordeal in 1986’s The Haunting.

Sweathog boasted a high-quality Three-Dog-throated vocal approach and the crack–but hardly innovative–musicianship of keyboardist (and lead singer) Lenny Lee Goldsmith, guitarist Robert Morris “B.J.” Jones, and drummer Barry “Frosty” Smith. But slews of other bands with less talent made a successful go of it, for the simple reason that they had a unique sound to hang their hippie headband on.

Sweathog, on the other hand, was doomed to go the way of the ginormous Terminator Pigs that roamed the forests and plains of three continents some 21 million years ago. Why? Because Sweathog served no evolutionary purpose. Chicago, Three Dog Night, and Grand Funk Railroad were already doing what Sweathog was doing, only better. Like the Terminator Pigs of yore, Sweathog flunked Darwin’s survival of the fittest test.

That said, if you just happen to be one of those rare humans who thinks an amalgam of the aforementioned bands constitutes the pinnacle of Western Civilization, I recommend you rifle your local used record bins for a copy of Sweathog posthaste. The same goes for collectors of rarity LPs and those privileged mortals who actually got the opportunity to see Sweathog open for the likes of Black Sabbath, Edgar Winter’s White Trash, and (yes) Grand Funk Railroad back in the day. I would advise the rest of the human race to stick to Vinnie Barbarino and Freddy “Boom Boom” Washington. Or to pick up a copy The Haunting; it’s a far more entertaining way to spend one’s time.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
D+

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