RedEye

Swamp Dogg reissues psychedelic soul albums, to celebrate at Echo

Those not familiar with the iconoclastic soul artist Swamp Dogg might know him through his biggest hit, "Don't Take Her (She's All I've Got)," which hit the top five twice in the 1960s and '70s.

If not for that, perhaps you've seen the singer, songwriter, producer, psychedelic soul music purveyor on some of the most surreal album covers of the 1970s. Dogg, born Jerry Williams Jr., also penned gems later recorded by Bob Dylan, Irma Thomas, Patti LaBelle and dozens of others.

Williams will make a rare appearance at the Echo on Saturday night, where he’ll perform songs from throughout his career. The impetus?

TIMELINE: Summer's must see concerts

His tripped-out early 1970s albums “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” “Rat On!” and “Gag a Maggot” (the latter featuring a cover replete with Swamp's head floating amid a pile of garbage)  have just been reissued by label Alive Naturalsound, bringing back to life work that combined lyrics about politics, race and psychedelia through frantic early 1970s soul. “Total Destruction,” in fact, was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama, and its dozen songs are wild, singular gems.

“Sitting on a corn flake, riding on a roller skate,” he sings to open the title track, a rollercoaster jam of wah-wah pedal, brass, humming organs and a choice break. Elsewhere on the album he offers stream-of-consciousness lines such as  “Spirit dust your head color red/Sparkle your insides pink with pleasure/Waves splash, silver your sky” before moving into a series of “la la la” vocal melodies.

“The World Beyond” is written about a time after the world has ended. “Tell me about the automobile,” sings Swamp. “How did it run, and what was a wheel?/Did children stand up all alone?/I think that you’re putting me on.”

RELATED: Best albums of 2013 so far | Randall Roberts

Some of the more out-there lyrics now sound dated, but the music stands up: This is serious soul music recorded by some masters of the genre.

Though born in Virginia, Williams has lived in the Valley for decades, but seldom plays live. His gig at the Echo will be part of Jeremy Sole’s excellent regular event “Funky Sole,” and it offers a rare opportunity to witness an unsung master in a live setting.   

ALSO:

Watch Fiona Apple's music video for 'Hot Knife'

Hear now: Elvis Costello and the Roots premiere 'Walk Us Uptown'

Review: Camper Van Beethoven celebrates 30 years of music-making

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Concerts by the Times PHOTOS: Unexpected musical collaborations PHOTOS: Musician feuds: The dirt & details

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Let It Be' Beatles tribute opens on Broadway

    'Let It Be' Beatles tribute opens on Broadway

    The latest Beatles tribute to hit Broadway, “Let It Be: A Celebration of the Music of the Beatles,” opened Wednesday at the St. James Theatre in New York to generally favorable reviews, with a couple of notable exceptions.

  • Where to go to laugh while The Second City undergoes repairs

    Where to go to laugh while The Second City undergoes repairs

    The early-afternoon fire on Aug. 26 that started in the Adobo Grill restaurant next door to The Second City has forced the historic theater to move or cancel all of its performances in their Mainstage, e.t.c and UP Comedy Club theaters until at least Sunday, Sept. 20, which will mark 26 days without...

  • City to offer ticket, tax amnesty program

    City to offer ticket, tax amnesty program

    Faced with pushing through City Council a massive property tax increase and other fees as part of a 2016 budget, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to slightly soften that politically difficult package by offering an amnesty program for people who have unpaid tickets and back taxes they owe the city.

  • O'Hare noise complaints top 2 million for year

    O'Hare noise complaints top 2 million for year

    Complaints about jet noise from O'Hare International Airport topped 2 million during the first seven months of this year — eight times the number filed in all of 2014, the Chicago Department of Aviation said Friday.

  • Second City to move or cancel shows through Sept. 20 after fire

    Second City to move or cancel shows through Sept. 20 after fire

    Second City announced Friday it is moving or canceling all performances scheduled in its Mainstage, e.t.c. Stage and UP Comedy Club theaters through Sept. 20 as the comedy company works to clean up after an extra-alarm fire destroyed its Old Town offices last week, though not the performance spaces.

  • Two new 'Empire' songs released before Season 2 premiere

    Two new 'Empire' songs released before Season 2 premiere

    Fox and Columbia Records this week released two new tracks for the second season of "Empire," a show that's filmed in Chicago.

Comments
Loading
79°