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Rat On! (Remastered)

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Album Review

The cover of this LP—Swamp Dogg riding a white rat, hands raised and fists clenched in triumph—lets you know that you're not in for any ol' R&B record, even before the needle hits the grooves. It's a satisfying continuation of the eclectic soul-singer-songwriter mix of his debut. Vocally, Swamp Dogg sounds like a cross between General Johnson (of Chairmen of the Board) and Van Morrison; as a songwriter, he's his own man. With the exception of Sly Stone, no other soul men of the period were investigating controversial topics with such infectious musicality and good humor. He takes on promiscuity with unbridled frankness in cuts like "Predicament #2," and bemoans the eternal delay of American justice for minorities in "Remember I Said Tomorrow," and twists Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" into a protest song (and also, bizarrely, covers the Bee Gees' "Got to Get a Message to You"). None of this endeared him to industry insiders, and Swamp Dogg was dropped by Elektra after the album's release. It's long been out of print, but in the U.K. Charly has reissued it on CD on a two-fer with Total Destruction of Your Mind.


Born: July 12, 1942 in Portsmouth, VA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '10s

Raunchy, satirical, political, and profane, Swamp Dogg is one of the great cult figures of 20th century American music. The creation of Jerry Williams, Jr., an R&B producer and songwriter of the '60s, Swamp Dogg fit no tidy category. In sheer musical terms, Swamp Dogg is pure Southern soul, anchored on tight grooves and accentuated by horns, but the Dogg is as much about message as music. Williams incorporated all the mind-bending psychedelic ideas of '60s counterculture -- drugs, sex, radical politics,...
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