Magazine article The New Yorker

ALPHA DOGG; Pop Notes

Magazine article The New Yorker

ALPHA DOGG; Pop Notes

Article excerpt

In 1970, after more than a decade in the record business as a producer for Atlantic Records and then, briefly, as a recording artist, Jerry Williams took the stage name Swamp Dogg and released "Total Destruction to Your Mind," a crazed, brilliant blast of protest soul that compared favorably with the best work of Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, and Funkadelic. Over the next few years, Williams proved himself to be a superb singer, a talented arranger, a gonzo songwriter, and a genuine eccentric--the cover art of the second Swamp Dogg album showed him riding a giant white rat--but sales were poor, and his recorded output tapered off. And then, this spring, with no fanfare--how could there be?--came "Resurrection" (Swamp Dogg), which is exactly what the title says, a rousing return to form by one of soul music's greatest cult artists.

The album opens with swirling percussion, stabbing horns, and a passionate series of questions: "In time of war, who wins? / When you choose sides, how do you distinguish your friends?" The song goes on to mention blood, burials, and body bags before chucking the whole nasty business and appealing heavenward with repeated cries of "Help us, Lord. …

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