One of the best underground/unsung soul albums I know of. Prior to Total Destruction To Your Mind, Swamp Dogg had been recording music and releasing 45s since the 50s, under the name Jerry Williams (or Little Jerry Williams). Frustrated by the lack of commercial success, Williams changed his name and persona and in 1970, unleashed Total Destruction To Your Mind on an unsuspecting world. While those early Calico 45s are a fine musical legacy, the above album saw Swamp Dogg hit on something totally new: a very original brew of R&B, funk and rock n roll that still sounds fresh today. Without doubt he delivered a true soul classic.

Total Destruction To Your Mind was originally released by Canyon Records. Swamp Dogg’s eccentric nature, blunt lyrics, and gruff vocals make it stand out from the commercial soul of the day. His style is really individual and authentic, which makes drawing comparisons so difficult. Think of a more eccentric Curtis Mayfield or a less lysergic Sly Stone with the occasional Stax horn arrangement – but even this description does the man no favors. The title cut is a classic, probably one of Dogg’s best known numbers. This track opens the LP and is best described as psychedelic soul rock, featuring wah wah, loud horns, funky guitar riffs, piano, and cryptic lyrics. Also of note are the fine contributions from guitarist Jesse Carr and drummer Johnny Sandlin; they provide structure and sanity on this great chuggin’ funk rock gem. “Redneck” (written by Joe South) and the excellent “Sal-A-Faster” are similar funk numbers that feature great beats, classic horn arrangements, and controversial lyrics. Other goodies are the Bob Dylan influenced “Synthetic World,” notable for its cerebral organ and the soulful, psychedelic worldplay of “Dust Your Head Color Red.” The album closes most unusually with “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe,” a great blues number that took me by surprise. Swamp Dogg wrote 9 of the 12 songs featured on this LP. Regarding the 3 covers; there are two great Joe South numbers which Swamp Dogg interprets brilliantly and then there’s ”The World Beyond,” a killer soul ballad with nostalgic lyrics (written by Bobby Goldsboro).

Again, Total Destruction to Your Mind never gained any commercial notoriety or widespread acceptance but this should in no way discourage you from checking out the 1996 reissue (which also bundles the excellent Rat On LP from 1971) by Swamp Dogg’s very own S.D.E.G. Records. Swamp Dogg always did things his own way and thats what makes Total Destruction to Your Mind such a special release. words/ j nardelli

MP3: Swamp Dogg :: Sal-A-Faster
MP3: Swamp Dogg :: The World Beyond
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6 Responses to “Swamp Dogg :: Total Destruction To Your Mind”

  1. One of THE great unknowns. I got this in a promo pile while at school in 1970 and became a lifelong fan…’Buzzard Luck” from his Buddah period one of my all time faves and his Takoma LP (wish I could find THAT one again) with one of the best titles of all time “Our Love Ain’t Worth But Two Dead Flies”. Found a collection of the Little Jerry Williams (1962-66) stuff online about three months ago…you can see/hear the talent budding in his choice of covers again: Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Larry Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Dion (!), Leadbelly and whodathunkit, Floyd Cramer!?!

  2. I first heard the title track on an Oxford American music compilation 6 or 7 years ago and I still remember how hot it is. So grateful to hear more by this guy!

  3. Totally agreed that Swamp Dogg is severely under appreciated. Creeping Away from RAT ON is one of my favorites of his, plus the album cover is brilliant. I think it’s also important to note the country influences in his songs, very rare for a black artist at the time but fairly obvious in the song structures and his singing.

  4. [...] propulsive piano, drums and a string section. If you only know Jerry Williams under his funked up Swamp Dogg guise, dig a little deeper (and farther back) starting with the track [...]

  5. Check out most if not all Swamp Dogg classics, downloadable in FLAC / CD quality at http://swampdogg.bandcamp.com/

  6. [...] month sees the re-release Swamp Dogg’s gonzo soul classics Total Destruction to Your Mind and Rat On!, via California-based label Alive Records. Originally released in 1970 and ‘71 by [...]

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