Swamp Dogg

Excellent Sides of Swamp Dogg, Vol. 4

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Jerry Williams reissues two long out-of-print albums from the back catalog of his not-so-secret identity Swamp Dogg in the fourth volume of the Excellent Sides of Swamp Dogg series. This set manages a .500 batting average, pairing one fine album with another that's one of Swamp Dogg's least interesting efforts. Swamp Dogg's Greatest Hits? was a 1976 release so obscure it doesn't even appear in many of Williams' discographies, in which he re-recorded a handful of obscure Swamp Dogg tunes, none of which were hits in this or any alternate universe. They may not have sold, but tunes like "I've Never Been to Africa," "Buzzard Luck," and "Call Me Nigger" capture the eccentric fervor of Williams' philosophical style as well as anything he's ever recorded, and "Or Forever Hold Your Peace," "I'm Still In Love with You," and "Don't You Try to Be My Man" are fine examples of his own distinct brand of Southern soul. 1977's Finally Caught Up with Myself, however, is nothing much to write home about; the backing band, credited as "Riders of the New Funk," sounds meek and anemic where Swamp Dogg's sessions are usually cooking with potent funk, and with a few exceptions Williams wasn't faring much better as a songwriter. There are a few bright spots, but outside of "If You Gotta Do Wrong (Do It Right)," "Trash," and "Understanding California Women," this is Swamp Dogg's most disposable album of the '70s. It doesn't help that on this reissue, Finally Caught Up with Myself sounds harsh and murky, and while the tracks from Greatest Hits? feature much better audio quality, "Ebony & Jet" has a very noticeable speed fault that wasn't corrected in mastering. Given how hard to find both of these albums are, Swamp Dogg fans aren't likely to complain about the flaws of this disc, but it's too bad the prime craziness of Greatest Hits? couldn't have been paired up with something more interesting.

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