SWAMP DOGG-TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF YOUR MIND.
SWAMP DOGG-TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF YOUR MIND.
Described as an album of gonzo soul from a true musical maverick, Total Destruction Of Your Mind was the debut album from Swamp Dogg. Released in 1970, Total Destruction Of Your Mind saw Swamp Dogg draw inspiration from everyone from Frank Zappa, Van Morrison and Sly Stone. Everything from soul, funk, R&B and rock was thrown into the mix. So were songs about war, peace, love, rednecks, cheaters and politics. Controversial, and known for speaking what he be believed to be the truth, Swamp Dogg even managed to make it onto disgraced President Nixon’s infamous enemies list. Swamp Dogg it seemed, was doing something right. That included making music that was downright funky, rock tinged and deeply soulful. Total Destruction Of Your Mind his debut album, which was recently released by Alive Records is proof of this.
Jerry Williams, A.K.A. Swamp Dogg, was twenty-eight when he began work on Total Destruction Of Your Mind. Born in March 1942, in Portsmouth Virginia, Swamp Dogg was a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. He’d left home as soon as he was old enough. His parents weaned the young Swamp Dogg on country music. Country music would influence Swamp Dogg’s debut album Total Destruction Of Your Mind, which marked a change of direction of Swamp Dogg.
During the sixties, Jerry Williams was for most part, a regular guy. He was a successful singer, songwriter and producer. Mostly, Jerry was content to help other people become stars. He wrote songs, played on their albums and produced their music. Then, as the sixties drew to a close, Jerry Williams dropped acid. It was a life changing experience.
“The Doors of Perception,” as Aldous Huxley said, had been opened. Jerry Williams changed. Psychedelics became his drug of choice. This stimulated his creativity. However, he desperately needed an outlet for this heightened creativity. So he adopted an alter ego Swamp Dogg. He was obsessed by sex, drugs, politics, culture and class. All these subjects came out in his music. His music was funny, prickly, gritty, acerbic and angry. Often, politicians felt the wrath of Swamp Dogg. For the newly enlightened Jerry Williams, Total Destruction Of Your Mind introduced the world to Swamp Dogg.
For his debut album, Total Destruction Of Your Mind, Swamp Dogg penned five tracks, Total Destruction Of Your Mind, Synthetic World, If I Die Tomorrow (I’ve Lived Tonight), Sal-A-Faster and The Baby Is Mine. Jerry cowrote four other tracks. With Gary U.S. Bond, he cowrote Dust Your Head Color Red, Everything You’ll Ever Need and Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe with Gary U.S. Bonds. Jerry and Dee Erwin wrote I Was Born Blue. Joe South wrote Redneck and These Are Not My People, while Bobby Goldsboro wrote The World Beyond. These twelve tracks became Total Destruction Of Your Mind, which Swamp Dogg recorded with a crack band of session musicians.
To record Total Destruction Of Your Mind, Swamp Dogg headed to Capricorn Studios, in Macon, Georgia, where with a crack band in tow, recording began. The band included a rhythm section of drummer Johnny Sandlin, bassist Robert Popwell and guitarist Pete Carr. Paul Hornsby played organ and piano, while the Jackie Avery Singers added backing vocals and The Maconites added horns. As for Swamp Dogg, he played piano on Total Destruction Of Your Mind, which was released in 1970.
On the release of Total Destruction Of Your Mind in 1970, the album failed to chart. It may have been that people didn’t quite get Swamp Dogg’s unique brand of gonzo soul. At least when Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe was released as a single, it reached number thirty-three in the US R&B Charts. This was a small crumb of comfort. Sadly, most people had overlooked a groundbreaking album. Total Destruction Of Your Mind finds Swamp Dogg at his most creative. His only real rival in the terms of creativity and innovation stakes was Sly Stone. You’ll realise that, once I tell you about Total Destruction Of Your Mind.
Opening Total Destruction Of Your Mind is the title-track. It’s a driving fusion of funk, rock and soul. Swamp Dogg’s piano, washes of Hammond organ and the rhythm section drive the arrangement along. Swamp Dogg’s vocal is powerful and joyous, as he celebrates his new found hedonism. His lyrics are surreal and lysergic. Proof of this are the opening lines: “sitting on a cornflake, riding on a roller-skate” are lysergic. Bursts of braying horns, stabs of piano and a vocal that’s inspired by Little Richard find the newly enlightened Swamp Dogg at his most creative. Mixing hooks and lysergic, surreal lyrics, this is a heady, potent brew.
Washes of Bruce Hornsby’s Hammond organ open Synthetic World, while the rhythm section mark time. It’s a very different song to the previous one. Swamp Dogg’s vocal is thoughtful, full of sadness and anger. There’s a reason for this. It’s the Synthetic World that surrounds him. “My patience is growing thin, at this Synthetic World we’re living in.” Soulful and rueful describes Swamp Dogg’s vocal, while his lyrics are full of social comment.
Southern Soul, gospel and blues influence Dust Your Head Color Red. It’s a slow, sad song, with Swamp Dogg’s vocal needy and pleading. Just the Hammond organ, piano, rhythm section and stabs of horns accompanying his vocal. The horns add to the emotion, while Swamp Dogg delivers a soul-baring vocal during this paean.
Redneck literally bursts into life. Horns, piano and rhythm section drive the arrangement along. Funk, blues and soul combines, while Swamp Dogg’s vocal is a throaty vamp. Again, he seems to draw inspiration from Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Showboating his way through the track, Swamp Dogg demonstrates his versatility, as he introduces you to a Redneck you’d like to meet.
Straight away, If I Die Tomorrow has a country soul influence. Crystalline guitars, stabs of piano and the rhythm section provide the backdrop for Swamp Dogg’s impassioned, soulful vocal. He delivers the lyrics with power and emotion. As Swamp Dogg vamps and testifies, horns blaze and piano accompany Swamp Dogg’s heartfelt vocal.
I Was Born Blue sees the tempo drop, as an understated Southern Soul arrangement unfolds. Just the Hammond organ and drums combine, while Swamp Dogg vocal is a combination of power and passion. Guitars chime, horns rasp and drums provide the backdrop for Swamp Dogg. Anger, frustration and sadness fill his voice as he sings about racism, and the unfairness of being judged purely because of the colour of his skin. There’s a sense of resignation in his voice, as if he wonders if things will ever improve? This results in a poignant and moving track.
Sal-A-Faster has a dramatic, cinematic and funky sound. The rhythm section join chiming guitars and piano create a spacious, moody backdrop. It’s against that backdrop that Swamp Dogg vamps. He sings about being the magical properties of Sal-A-Faster, a magical cure-all. Just like the title-track, the lyrics are lysergic, surreal and have a sixties influence. As for the arrangement, funky and dramatic describes it.
The World Beyond sees a late-sixties psychedelic influence combined with gospel and Southern Soul. The piano is panned hard left, while the vocal is panned hard right, with filters added to the vocal. This results in a trippy sound. Then when the vocal takes centre-stage, it becomes deeply soulful. Especially with the Hammond organ, piano and drums accompanying the vocal. Occasionally, there are brief excursions into psychedelia, but mostly, the Swamp Dogg keeps things soulful and almost spiritual on this anthemic track.
These Are Not My People is one of two tracks written by Joe South. It doesn’t take long to realize that this track is more than a little special. Swamp Dogg scats before the track bursts into life. He drops his vocal, delivering it quickly. Meanwhile, horns growl and the rhythm section provide the heartbeat. As the drama builds, cymbals crash, guitars chime, horns bray and the piano helps drive the arrangement along. Everything from pop, soul, funk and Latin music are thrown into the melting pot. Add plenty of poppy hooks, and the result is an irresistible track.
Wistful. That describes the introduction to Everything You’ll Ever Need. Just the piano and drums combine as Swamp Dogg delivers an impassioned and needy vocal. Bluesy horns growl, crystalline guitars and jazzy piano combine as Swamp Dogg reassures that: “I’ll be Everything You’ll Ever Need.”
Slow, thoughtful and with a melancholy sound The Baby Is Mine is another of the ballads on Total Destruction To Your Mind. Swamp Dogg’s vocal brings the lyrics to life. It’s if he’s lived and experienced what he’s singing about when he sings. Clever chord changes add to the drama and emotion. So do bursts of dramatic horns, rolls of drums and piano, on this mini-soap opera that comes to life in the hands of Swamp Dogg.
Closing Total Destruction Of Your Mind is the gloriously bluesy Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe. A B.B. King-esque guitar gives way to a pounding piano. They’re joined by the rhythm section and chiming guitars. Full of hurt and confusion, Swamp Dogg lives the lyrics. Feeding off his band, who are giving one of their best performances on the album, Swamp Dogg mixes drama, emotion and even a twist of his trademark humor, closing Total Destruction To Your Mind on a high.
Total Destruction Of Your Mind was just the start of Swamp Dogg’s career. It marked the enlightenment of Jerry Williams. Before taking on his Swamp Dogg persona, he’d been plain old Jerry Williams, ever since his 1964 debut single I’m The Lover Man. Then, as the sixties drew to a close, Jerry Williams dropped acid. It was a life changing experience.
It lead to The Doors of Perception opening. Jerry Williams changed. Psychedelics became his drug of choice. This stimulated his creativity. However, he desperately needed an outlet for this heightened creativity. He adopted an alter ego Swamp Dogg. Soon, his music was full of references to sex, drugs, politics, culture and class. All these subjects came out in his music. His music was funny, prickly, gritty, acerbic and angry. Full of humour and social comment, Swamp Dogg became the spokesman for a newly enlightened generation.
Often, politicians felt the wrath of Swamp Dogg. What he said was often controversial. He soon established a reputation for speaking what he be believed to be the truth. This lead to Swamp Dogg making it onto disgraced President Nixon’s infamous enemies list. His were songs about war, peace, love, rednecks, cheaters and politics had touched a nerve. Sadly, although those in power heard about Swamp Dogg’s music, Total Destruction To Your Mind wasn’t a commercial success.
When it was released in 1970, Total Destruction Of Your Mind didn’t sell well. The album was well received, but sales were poor. Maybe the problem was that Canyon Records was only a small record company with a small budget. Sly Stone, who Swamp Dogg is often compared to, was signed to a major label. His music was hugely successful. However, Sly’s label had a bigger budget with a larger staff. This made a huge difference. Gold and platinum discs came Sly’s way. Sadly, for Swamp Dogg, commercial success eluded Total Destruction Of Your Mind, which was recently released by Alive Records.
Despite commercial success eluding Total Destruction OF Your Mind, it’s seen as a lost classic. It features the reinvention of Swamp Dogg, one of the most innovative and creative musicians of his generation. No wonder. Total Destruction Of Your Mind marked the blossoming of Swamp Dogg, when he was embarking upon his career as a musical pioneer and innovator. After that, Swamp Dogg released a series of groundbreaking albums. The first of these was Total Destruction OF Your Mind, which introduced the world to one of music’s pioneers, Swamp Dogg. Standout Tracks: Dust Your Head Color Red, If I Die Tomorrow, These Are Not My People and Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe.
SWAMP DOGG-TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF YOUR MIND.