Swamp Dogg

I Called for a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock

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By 1989, Jerry Williams was running short on record companies willing to release one Swamp Dogg album before dropping him (which had happened seven times by that point), so he took the logical step of starting his own label, which he kicked off with the memorably titled (even by his standards) I Called for a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock. Clearly working with a lower budget, I Called for A Rope is dominated by wheezing synthesizers and clanky drum machines that lack the soulful force of Swamp Dogg's best studio work, but as a songwriter and singer the man is in fine form on this set. "I'd Lie to You for Your Love" is a hilarious litany of tall tales (and what woman could resist the man who invented gravy?), "Kiss Me, Hit Me, Touch Me" shows he had an impressive understanding of rap for a guy pushing forty, "Come to L.A." beats Randy Newman at his own game of bashing the West Coast, and "Let the Good Times Roll" rocks out with a steady roll. "We Need a Revolution" is a commendable bit of political ranting from a guy who had made it a major career sideline, and "1958" is that rare example of romantic nostalgia without false illusions. The low-budget production on I Called for a Rope often makes it sound more like a set of demos than a proper album, but they're demos for a damn good record, and fans of Swamp Dogg's brilliant if addled world view will want to check it out.

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