Swamp Dogg

I'm Not Selling Out -- I'm Buying In!

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Swamp Dogg never stopped working in the late '70s but after 1974's Have You Heard This Story??, his last stab at a major, he faded away, grinding out records on labels that were, at best, regionally known. Things changed in 1981 when Takoma -- a roots label then owed by Chrysalis Records -- decided to sign Dogg and fund the recording of I'm Not Selling Out -- I'm Buying In!, an album that represented both an artistic comeback and something of a signal boost as well. It, like all the other Swamp Dogg records before it, did not sell but it did garner attention upon its release, and it stands as one of his best and better-known albums. Despite Dogg's proclamation in the liner notes that he produced this album "because I love Rock & Roll," there's not much three-chord boogie here: just "Wine, Women and Rock 'n' Roll," plus the cheeky revival "Total Destruction to Your Mind Once Again." The latter deliberately invites comparisons to his mind-bending 1970 debut and, in some ways, I'm Not Selling Out -- I'm Buying In! provides an update for the age of Reagan: Swamp Dogg celebrates capitalism in his album title but then he stands up for withering American ideals in "It's Just a Little Time Left" ("so John Lennon didn't die in vain, let's live in peace"), that "Total Destruction" revamp, and "California Is Drowning and I Live Down by the River." Since this is Swamp Dogg, he pollutes his social consciousness with a healthy dose of sleaze -- a sleaze with such a strong stench, it seeps into the duet with Esther Phillips on "The Love We Got Ain't Worth Two Dead Flies" -- and even if he seems a step behind the times when he ratchets up the disco on "Sexy Sexy Sexy #3" (or even the burbling sitars on "Low Friends in High Places"), his grinning vulgarity always ingratiates. If I'm Not Selling Out -- I'm Buying In! isn't as deeply gritty or tight as his early-'70s cult classics, it still benefits from the anonymous high-grade professionals Takoma provides: it feels fully realized and funky, a winning '80s variation on Swamp Dogg's trademark persona.

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