SWAMP DOGG-I’M NOT SELLING OUT/I’M BUYING IN.

SWAMP DOGG-I’M NOT SELLING OUT/I’M BUYING IN.

During the sixties, Jerry Williams was for most part, a regular guy. He was a successful singer, songwriter and producer. Mostly, Jerry Williams 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, his debut album Total Destruction Of Your Mind introduced the world to Swamp Dogg, whose 1981 album I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In was recently reissued Takoma, an imprint of Ace Records.

When Total Destruction Of Your Mind was released in 1970, the album failed to chart. It seemed, that record buyers didn’t seem to understand Swamp Dogg’s unique brand of gonzo soul. Then 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 featured Swamp Dogg at his most creative.

At the time, Swamp Dogg was compared to Sly Stone. The two men vied for the title of the most creative and innovative man in soul music. Their careers took very different directions during the first half of the seventies. However, by then, Swamp Dogg had been making music since he was twelve.

The future Swamp Dogg was born Jerry Williams in March 1942, in Portsmouth, Virginia. From an early age, Jerry Williams was immersed in music. His parents weaned their son on country music. However, the young Jerry Williams wasn’t just listening to music he released his first single when he was twelve.

Little Jerry Williams released HTD Blues (Hardsick Troublesome Downout Blues) on the Mechanic label in 1954. Despite his tender years, Little Jerry Williams penned his debut single. He wasn’t just a songwriter though. Soon, Jerry Williams would become a multi-instrumentalist. 

By the time Jerry Williams turned eighteen, his musical career began in earnest. He released singles on a regular basis. His 1964 single I’m The Lover Man, which was a Jerry Williams composition, was picked up by the Loma label. While it wasn’t the success many forecast, commercial success came in 1966.

When  Jerry Williams released Baby You’re My Everything, in 1966, it reached number thirty-two in the US R&B charts. This was the first of a string of singles Jerry Williams released for Calla. They didn’t match the success of Baby You’re My Everything. So Jerry Williams forged a career as a songwriter, musician and producer. He was content to turn other musicians into stars. 

Jerry Williams was happy to carve out a niche as a songwriter, musician and producer until the late sixties. Much of the time, Jerry Williams worked at Atlantic.Then came the day Jerry Williams dropped acid. No longer was Jerry Williams willing to remain a star-maker, he wanted to become a star. That was when Jerry Williams’ outrageous alter ego, Swamp Dogg was born.

Total Destruction Of Your Mind was released on the Canyon label in 1970, and introduced the world to Swamp Dogg. While the album didn’t sell in vast quantities, critics realised that Swamp Dogg was a mixture of musical maverick and innovator. Soon, comparisons were being made with Sly Stone, who was enjoying commercial success and critical acclaim.

Back in 1966, when Jerry Williams enjoyed a hit with Baby You’re My Everything, Sly and The Stone didn’t even exist. They were formed in 1967, while Swamp Dogg was enjoying a successful career as a producer. When Sly and The Stone released their debut album, it would’ve taken a brave man to forecast that by 1970, Sly Stone would be one of the biggest names in music. 

Sly and The Family Stone released their debut album in A Whole New Thang in October 1967. However, the album failed to chart. This was an inauspicious start for Sly Stone’s new band. Things weren’t going to plan.

Then in April 1968, Dance To The Music reached number 142 in the US Billboard 200 and number eleven in the US R&B charts. Things were looking up. However, when Sly and The Family Stone released Life in September 1968, it stalled at number 195. This wasn’t what had been forecast for a man who was being hailed as one of music’s innovators.

Things improved in 1969, when Sly and The Family Stone released Stand! It reached number thirteen in the US Billboard 200, and number three in the US R&B charts. This resulted in Sly and The Family Stone’s first platinum disc.Around this time, Swamp Dogg had a chemical awakening, when he dropped acid.

A year later, and Swamp Dogg released his Total Destruction Of Your Mind. This was when Swamp Dogg was first compared to Sly Stone. They were both mavericks and innovators, capable of releasing groundbreaking music. However, their fortunes varied hugely. 

Total Destruction Of Your Mind didn’t sell well upon its release. However, when Sly and The Family Stone released their Greatest Hits album in November 1970, it sold five million copies, and was certified platinum five times over. For the next five years, this was a familiar pattern.

In November 1971, Sly and The Family Stone released There’s A Riot Goin’ On was certified platinum. There’s A Riot Goin’ On was hailed an instant classic. Gone was the psychedelic soul of previous Sly and The Family Stone albums. Replacing it was a darker, funky and soulful sound. Meanwhile, Swamp Dogg had signed to a major.

Swamp Dogg signed to Elektra in 1971. They saw the potential in Swamp Dogg. Executives at Elektra realised Swamp Dogg, they was one of music’s innovators. Elektra expected great things from Swamp Dogg. What they got was an album that entered the musical history books.

When Swamp Dogg released Rat On, his Elektra debut in 1971, it featured what’s now seen as one of the worst album covers ever. Rat On featured Swamp Dog sitting on top of a giant rat. This was slightly off-putting, and possibly, detracted from the music. Rat On, which featured Swamp Dogg at his creative zenith, didn’t sell well. As a result, Swamp Dogg was dropped by Elektra. It was a case of what might have been.

Sadly, Swamp Dogg’s dalliance with a major label was brief. Now he was back to square one. He released his next two albums on smaller labels. 1972s Cuffed, Collared and Tagged was released on Cream Records, while 1973s Gag A Maggott was released on Stone Dogg. Neither album sold well. Meanwhile, Sly Stone was one of the most successful men in music. 

The success story that was Sly and The Family Stone continued apace. Fresh released in June 1973, gave Sly and The Family Stone their third consecutive number one in the US R&B charts. Just like Small Talk, which was released in July 1974, Fresh was certified gold. Good news also came Swamp Dogg’s way in 1974. Island Records wanted to sign him.

After releasing his last two albums on smaller labels, Swamp Dogg was back where his talents belonged, at one of the music’s bigger labels. Island Records was then home to everyone from Bob Marley to John Martin. Joining that list was Swamp Dogg in 1974. Sadly, his time was brief.

Have You Heard This Story?? was released on Island Records in 1974. It was Swamp Dogg’s fifth solo album. However, it was a familiar story. Commercial success eluded Swamp Dogg and he was dropped by Island Records. Meanwhile, Sly and The Family Stone had split-up. This looked like the end of the road for Swamp Dogg’s creative rival. 

Sly Stone, was determined to carry on.While 1975s High On You and 1976s Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back were credited to Sly and The Family Stone, it featured a very different lineup. The other change was Sly Stone himself. Years of hard living had caught up with him. He was no longer the musical giant he once was. Neither High On You nor Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back reached the heights of Sly and The Family Stone’s previous albums. However, Sly Stone had had a good run. Between 1969 and 1974, Sly and The Family Stone sold eight million albums. With Sly Stone out of the running, the coast was clear for Swamp Dogg to unleash his creativity. 

Ever since the release of Total Destruction To Your Mind, Swamp Dogg had been releasing groundbreaking and genre-melting music. However, none of the albums sold well. With Sly Stone no longer making music, there was a musical void needing filled. Swamp Dogg was ready to fill that void.

In 1976, Swamp Dogg released not one, but two albums. This included the ironically titled ?? Greatest Hits ??? on the Stone Dogg label. The irony was, that Swamp Dogg had only one minor hit single, and the album  contained mostly, new material. This appealed to Swamp Dogg’s humour. However, the album didn’t sell well. Neither did You Ain’t Never Too Old To Boogie, which released on DJM. Swamp Dogg’s decision to jump onboard the disco bandwagon hadn’t paid off. After seven solo albums, Swamp Dogg was at a musical crossroads.

Each of the seven albums Swamp Dogg released didn’t sell in huge quantities. Quite the opposite. However, it didn’t help that many of the albums were released on small labels. That was the case with the two albums Swamp Dogg released in 1977. An Opportunity… Not A Bargain!!! was released on the Wizard label, while Finally Caught Up With Myself was released on Musicor. Again, neither album sold well. These albums were the last albums Swamp Dogg released during the seventies.

It wasn’t until 1980, that Swamp Dogg resurfaced. He decided to record a disco album. So he put together an experienced band, which featured many musicians who were familiar with the “disco” sound. They recorded Doing A Party Tonite, in L.A. where Swamp Dogg had been living for a couple of years. Once the album was recorded, Cream Records agreed to release the album.

By the time Doing A Party Tonite was scheduled for release in 1980, disco was dead. This presented Cream Records with a problem. However, they decided to release Doing A Party Tonite, but only in France. When it hit the shelves of French record shops, Doing A Party Tonite failed to ignite the excitement of record buyers. It was one of the least successful albums of Swamp Dogg’s career. Swamp Dogg was down, but not out.

While Swamp Dogg was a talented and experienced singer, songwriter, musicians and producer, he couldn’t catch a break. This must have been soul destroying. Swamp Dogg was thirty-eight, and had been making music since 1954. He hadn’t a lot to show for thirty-six years of music. He only had two minor hits to his name. However, in 1981, Swamp Dogg released the eleventh album of his career, I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In.

It had been four years since Swamp Dogg released an album in America. His dalliance with disco had proved disastrous commercially. So, Swamp Dogg decided to return to more familiar musical territory.

For what was Swamp Dogg’s comeback album, he penned Swamping Salutations, Wine, Women And Rock ‘N’ Roll, The Love We Got Ain’t Worth Two Dead Flies, A Hundred And and Sexy Sexy Sexy # 3. Swamp Dogg cowrote the other four tracks. He cowrote Low Friends In High Places and otal Destruction To Your Mind Once Again with Tony Davis. California Is Drowning And I Live Down By The River was a Swamp Dogg and Yvonne Williams composition. They joined with Maurice McCormick and O. Jessie to pen Just A Little Time Left. These nine tracks became I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In.

When recording of I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In began, Swamp Dogg was joined by a band featuring West Coast musicians. The rhythm section featured drummers Carlos (Corky) Carraby and Willie Ornelas, bassist Kenny Lewis and guitarist Bob Ettol, who also played sitar. They were joined by percussionist King Errisson and Nate Morgan on electric piano and organ. Flautist Dashiell Humdy also played tenor saxophone. He was joined in the horn section by trombonists lvin Stanton and Terry Carter; plus trumpeters Gabriell Flemings, Hank Ballard, Jr. William Barnes. Swamp Dogg played piano and co-produced I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In with Yvonne Williams. Once the album was completed, it was ready for release later in 1981.

When Swamp Dogg released I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In, it came complete with the Swamp Dogg cookbook. This gimmick was Swamp Dogg’s way of making the album stand out from the crowd. Sadly, this didn’t work, when I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In failed to attract the attention of critics and record buyers. Swamp Dogg’s comeback album hadn’t been the success he had hoped for. To rub salt into Swamp Dogg’s wounds, Chrysalis who owned Takoma, sold the label in 1982. For Swamp Dogg, this as a disappointing period in his career, one that produced an underrated album I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In.

When Swamp Dogg released I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In, it came complete with the Swamp Dogg cookbook. This gimmick was Swamp Dogg’s way of making the album stand out from the crowd. Sadly, this didn’t work, when I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In failed to attract the attention of critics and record buyers. Swamp Dogg’s comeback album hadn’t been the success he had hoped for. To rub salt into Swamp Dogg’s wounds, Chrysalis who owned Takoma, sold the label in 1982. For Swamp Dogg, this as a disappointing period in his career, one that produced an underrated album I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In.

Opening I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In is Swamping Salutations. It’s just a thirteen second welcome from Swamp Dogg. He combines with the rhythm section and guitar, to give the listener a taste of what’s about to unfold.

Wine, Women and Rock ’N’ Roll literally bursts into life, picking up where Swamping Salutations left off. The rhythm section and searing guitars combine with a boogie woogie piano. They provide the backdrop for Swamp Dogg, as he delivers a joyous vocal about the good things in life. In Swamp Dogg’s case, that’s “Wine, Women and Rock ’N’ Roll.” Accompanied by harmonies and a tight band, Swamp Dogg unleashes a slice of upbeat, good time music.

The tempo drops on It’s Just A Little Time Left, and a much more serious Swamp Dogg takes centre-stage. A piano and acoustic guitar set the scene for Swamp Dogg, as he delivers lyrics full of social comment. Gradually, the arrangement grows, as a bass, Hammond organ and piano enter. They’re then joined by horns.Together, they frame Swamp Dogg’s impassioned, heartfelt vocal. When his vocal briefly drops out, the band enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs. Then when Swamp Dogg returns, hope fills his voice as he sings of his hopes for the future, a future that includes a better, more equal America.

The Love We Got Ain’t Worth Two Dead Flies sees Swamp Dogg joined by Esther Phillips. Swamp Dogg had tried to rejuvenate her career a few years earlier. By 1981, Esther Phillips was signed to Mercury. Esther’s voice is still instantly recognisable. It’s much more lived-in, but Esther and Swamp Dogg, feed off each other during, the jaunty, disco lite arrangement. While Esther delivers a feisty, sassy vocal stabs of horns are added. Meanwhile, the rhythm section adds a funky backdrop. A distant Fender Rhodes is panned left, and a piano panned right. They frame Esther’s vocal, as she rolls back the years on what’s a real hidden gem from her discography.

Straight away, it’s obvious that Low Friends In High Places is one of I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In’s highlights. A pounding, dramatic rhythm rhythm section and sitar set the scene for Swamp Dogg’s angry, frustrated vocal. Not for the first time, he turns his attention to nepotism and corruption. Sadness, fills his voice as he delivers the lyrics. Stabs of piano and braying horns punctuate the arrangement. Harmonies augment Swamp Dogg’s impassioned, angry vocal, on a track where hooks haven’t been rationed.

A Hundred And bursts into life, taking I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In in the direction of the dance-floor. Soon, gospel soul, funk and disco are combining. Accompanying the vocal are a bass and funky guitar. They join the drums in powering the arrangement along. Add to that, piano, swathes of dancing strings and rasping horns, and everything is in place for an irresistible disco track. This is because the album was recorded when disco was still popular. Much had changed by the time I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In was released. Disco had “died” two years earlier. However, thirty-four years later, and A Hundred And would still fill a dance-floor.

The album that launched Swamp Dogg’s career Total Destruction To Your Mind. The track was also one of the highlights of the album. Eleven years later, and Swamp Dogg picks up the story on Total Destruction To Your Mind. Nothing has changed he believes. Meanwhile, the rhythm section, guitar, piano and sitar provide a funky, dance-floor friendly backdrop. Later, stabs of horns are added. They add to the what’s a fusion of Blaxploitation, disco and soul. It’s a captivating combination of musical genres, which a few years earlier, might have given Swamp Dogg that elusive hit single.

Just a tack piano opens the dramatic sounding California Is Drowning And I Live Down By The River. They were penned by Swamp Dogg and his wife Yvonne Williams. As flourishes of piano play, an angry, frustrated vocal about California’s failings is unleashed. By then, a boogie shuffle is developing. The bass walks the arrangement along, while drums create a hypnotic beat. Boogie woogie piano and stabs of horns are added. This is the perfect for lyrics that are a mixture of frustration, anger, cynicism and satire. They’ve Swamp Dogg’s name written all over them.

Sexy Sexy Sexy # 3 closes I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In. It sees Swamp Dogg head to the dance-floor again. There’s a nod to Joe Tex, as Swamp Dogg vamps and struts his way through the lyrics. More in jest though. It’s as if Swamp Dogg is poking fun at the overblown soul men of the seventies, They took themselves too seriously. Not Swamp Dogg. With the

rhythm section combining with keyboards and a guitar, they provide a funky, soulful and dance-floor friendly arrangement. So do the tabs of horns punctuate the arrangement. They accompany Swamp Dogg, as his one and only album for Takoma I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In, draws to a close.

Sadly, when I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In was released in 1981, the album failed commercially. There’s a reason for this. A number of the songs on I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In have a disco sound. That’s not a surprise. They were recorded during the disco era. However, by the time I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In was released in 1981, the disco era was over. 

Despite this, when Swamp Dogg approached Takoma with an album that featured four disco tracks, they agreed to release the album. That’s surprising, as disco albums were no longer selling. So much so, that very few labels even released disco. However, I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In was more than disco.

Alongside disco, was funk, gospel, R&B and soul. The few people who bought I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In, discovered an album that was huge fun. It was just as eclectic as previous Swamp Dogg albums. However, just like previous Swamp Dogg albums, I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In sold badly. Unlike Sly Stone, Swamp Dogg never reached the heights his talents deserved.

That’s despite Swamp Dogg and Sly Stone both being hugely talented, creative and innovative musicians. They both released groundbreaking music. However, Sly Stone spent most of his career signed to small labels. Only twice did he release an album on a major label. Sadly, neither were a commercial success. Swamp Dogg never got the chance to redeem himself. Instead, he was cut loose, and ended up drifting from label to label.

By 1981, Swamp Dogg was signed to Takoma, which is now an imprint of Ace Records. Takoma recently reissued I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In, which finds Swamp Dogg combining social comment and hooks. The result is I’m Not Selling Out/I’m Buying In, an underrated album of good time music from soul music’s social conscience, Swamp Dogg.

SWAMP DOGG-I’M NOT SELLING OUT/I’M BUYING IN.

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