Various Artists

Blame It on the Dogg: The Swamp Dogg Anthology 1968-1978

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Since 1970, Jerry Williams has been living a double life -- by day, he writes songs and produces records for some of the leading lights of soul and R&B, while by night he makes his own gloriously eccentric albums as Swamp Dogg, the man who promised and delivered Total Destruction to Your Mind. Blame It on the Dogg: The Swamp Dogg Anthology 1968-1978 is a compilation that for once honors both sides of this man's split personality, featuring a few of Williams' own recordings as Swamp Dogg alongside a healthy variety of selections he wrote and/or produced for other acts. There are also three of Williams' pre-Swamp Dogg cuts here, and while they may lack the weird quotient of "I've Never Been to Africa (And It's Your Fault)" and "The Love We Got Ain't Worth Two Dead Flies," they play to his knack for R&B classicism and show he already had a hell of a voice, especially on the pleading "Run Run Roadrunner." And the 19 numbers from people who aren't Swamp Dogg or Jerry Williams show that the guy is a valuable ally in the studio; there's fine and rollicking stuff from Gary U.S. Bonds ("I'm Glad You're Back"), Ruth Brown ("Stop Knocking"), and the Drifters ("Your Best Friend"), as well as some more contemplative moments from Z.Z. Hill ("Touch 'Em with Love") and Arthur Conley ("Complication #4"), and Gene Pitney of all people delivers one of the highlights with a frantic run through Williams' "You're a Heartbreaker." Actually, if this collection disappoints, it's because Swamp Dogg himself almost gets lost in the shuffle among Williams' other musical accomplishments, but with much of the Swamp Dogg catalog finally making its way to CD through Williams' own SDEG label, this is a more than welcome overview of Williams' work behind the scenes, and a fine collection of smart and gritty Southern soul from an unsung master of the form.

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