WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY ABOUT
He's made some of the maddest, funny, baddest, odd, angry, funkiest soul records' Mojo Magazine, January 2010
"...some say that the quintessential Swamp Dogg song is "Total Destruction To Your Mind", which isn't a bad start toward apocalypse". DAILY NEWS
"Like a strange combination of Sly Stone's progressive funk with Frank Zappa's lyrical absurdism, he's continued grinding out records for a rather astonishing variety of labels, usually heard by only a few. These are often deceptively normal sounding until you get to lyrics about a wedding ceremony in which the singer's son is about to get married to someone the father knows all too well, and song titles like "I've Never Been to Africa (And It's Your Fault)." The U.S. government was concerned enough about his anti-Vietnam War activities to place him on the famed Nixon enemies list for a while". The Unknown Legends of Rock 'N Roll
"Williams primary means of expression has always been his voice, a din-piercing tenor that sounds like it comes from a bullhorn in his throat…Even the way Williams spells his stage name carries freight, with rappers from Snoop Dogg to Tha Dogg Pound later adopting his trademark dougle-g. Had more people heard it – had anyone outside Swamp Dogg's cult following known about it – (his album) Total Destruction of Your Mind likely would have been touted alongside such funk-soul touchstones as Sly & the Family Stone's Stand! Or Curtis Mayfield's Curtis". The Oxford American 1998
"And as is often the case with quirky "legends," what he's up to at any given time is the source of wild speculation. It would be wise to not count him out; just when you think this Dogg is down and out, he sneaks up and bites you". All Music Guide
"Swamp Dogg, the soul genius that time forgot". The Guardian, 2006
"When I felt like I needed profanity, I used profanity," Swamp Dogg begins. And as he cheerfully swears his way through his 50 years in show business, it's easy to see why he remained a cult figure while his peers went mainstream. He wrote like Sly Stone and sang like Van Morrison, but took so many diversions he never arrived.
"They can't find a hole for this pigeon," he says. "But I don't feel rained on. I don't feel bad. I still consider myself the most successful failure in the United States, and that's really not bad at all." The Guardian, 2007
Entertainment Weekly, 5 May 2009, Sean Howe
Swamp Dogg is — I'll just say it — a one-of-a-kind musical genius. Last month, even as I wondered aloud if Bobby Womack was "the world's most underrated R&B artist," I was hedging my bets. It's not a knock against Womack, it's just that he's hardly an unknown. Swamp Dogg, on the other hand, is a too-well-kept secret, although he's written and produced hit records over a five-decade span. As he wrote on liner notes 35 years ago, "Where else but in America could a person own a Rolls-Royce, an Eldorado Mark IV, a Mercedes limousine, an estate in Long Island, an apartment in Hollywood and still be considered a failure?"
So what's the big deal with Swamp Dogg? Oh, I'm so glad you asked. After the jump, a look at what makes him so great.
Cheating songs par excellence: Nobody beats Swamp Dogg when it comes to epics of guilt and/or betrayal — these are more than your average somebody-done-somebody-wrong songs. A title like "Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long)," for instance, sneaks in the line "it wouldn't have hurt as much as it did/if it had been another man." And there's "Or Forever Hold Your Peace," in which a father realizes why his son's bride looks extremely familiar, and gut-punch after gut-punch ensues: "she made sure I didn't see him alone/I'd have to kill two marriages/with one little stone" and "someone snickered in the pews as I walked by/is it really that funny to see the father cry?" And then there are songs like "If You Get Him (He Never Was Mine),"which brings us to…
Writing from the woman's point of view: As good as Swamp Dogg's smooth, pleading voice is, it can't hold a candle to the singing of Irma Thomas, or Doris Duke, or Patti La Belle, all of whom recorded his songs. And they were lucky to have them, because he knew how to construct a guaranteed heartbreaker. Song titles include "To The Other Woman (I'm The Other Woman)," "After All I Am Your Wife," "If She's Your Wife (Who Am I)," and "Another Man Took My Husband's Place."
Provocative social commentary: Wondering why Swamp Dogg's examinations of race relations and class struggles never made it to radio? Well, there's the seven-minute "Call Me Ni**er," the last five minutes of which is an impassioned monologue over banjo. Other titles include "I've Never Been To Africa (And It's Your Fault)" and "Help (God Help America)." And then there's "Sweet Bird of Success," a riotous anthem for cynics, with lines like "do somebody a good turn/step on a dream today/and if money can't buy the things that you wanted/you didn't need them anyway." And on a more earnest note, "Songs to Sing," recorded by his protégée Charlie "Raw Spitt" Whitehead, approaches the heights of "A Change Is Gonna Come. "No exaggeration.
After all this, he still knows how to do a mean cover version: Not only is he a great songwriter, he's a fine interpreter. He's always seemed to have a thing for white southern songwriters, which would be surprising if "surprising" weren't his m.o. He's done justice to compositions by John Prine, Joe South, and Mickey Newbury, and here he is doing "The World Beyond," a post-apocalyptic fantasy by Bobby "Honey" Goldsboro.
We could go on and on: There's so much more to say, about how his first album opens with the lines "Sitting on a cornflake/riding ona roller skate." Or about how Bob Dylan covered one of his songs, and it was offered on eBay for $12,500, or about the song he wrote that hit the top 5—on the country charts. Twice.