Archive for the ‘Swamp Dogg’ Category

Doris Willingham

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Listen: You Can’t Do That / Doris Willingham
You Can't Do That / Doris Willingham

The future Doris Duke, best known for many Swamp Dogg associations, started her recording career as Doris Willingham. Signing to the newly formed Jay Boy, ‘You Can’t Do That’ became her second single in two years, released early ’68. It’s a cherished record for both London, who distributed this first Jay Boy release, and Northern collectors, like myself for starters.

Produced by Richard Tee in his early days. Despite finding his professional footing in jazz by the mid 70′s, back in ’68, he was running with the likes Shirley Scott, Esther Phillips, King Curtis and drummer Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie, whose production company this single was made for.

Charlie Whitehead

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Listen: Love Being Your Fool / Charlie Whitehead
Love

Given that Charlie Whitehead was discovered and signed to Musicor by Charlie Foxx, well that’s all I ever needed to know. I was in.

At Musicor, a long musical partnership resulted with Jerry Williams. And when he, as Swamp Dogg, moved to Island, so too did Charlie Whitehead.

And for a change, a switch to Island meant a hit record. Yes, ‘Love Being Your Fool’ made the BILLBOARD RnB chart in ’75.

I never did find out who at Island was responsible for the label’s mid 70′s infatuation with the strain of Delta soul that brought, not only Charlie Whitehead and Swamo Dogg to the roster, but also Robert Parker, The Wild Tchoupitoulas, Jay Dee Bryant and Tyrone Taylor.

Little Jerry Williams

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Listen: I’m The Lover Man / Little Jerry Williams
LittleJerryWilliamsLoverMan.mp3

Every much a writer and a producer as he is an artist, Jerry Williams began a long timeline of releasing 45′s as Little Jerry Williams in ’54. Ten years down the line from there, he recorded ‘I’m The Lover Man’ as a one off for Loma, the Warner Brothers imprint created primarily as an outlet for RnB/Soul and Bob Krasnow, who oversaw the operation.

By ’74, he was Swamp Dogg.

In a recent on-air interview for NPR, Jerry Williams claimed to be raised on country music.

“Black music didn’t start ’til 10 at night ending around 4 in the morning and I was in bed by then. If you strip my tracks, take away all the horns and guitar licks, what you have is a country song.”

In fact, as proof, he even earned a Grammy nomination in ’71, along with Gary US Bonds, for composing the Johnny Paycheck Country Single Of The Year, “She’s All I Got”.

‘I’m The Lover Man’ indeed seems to exemplify the template, while maintaining his signature tongue in cheek lyrics.

The Sandpebbles

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Listen: Love Power / The Sandpebbles
Love

Clocking in at just over two minutes, ‘Love Power’, like The Flirtations ‘Nothing But A Heartache’, could qualify as one of the greatest Motown tracks never to be issued by Motown.

Instead, the independently owned soul label, Calla Records out of New York, distributed by Roulette, released ‘Love Power’ in late ’66, and by the end of winter ’67, it was both an RnB and Pop hit (#14 / #22).

Nate McCalla was the guy, keeping his company active from ’65 to ’77 . Originally being both a bodyguard for and associate of Morris Levy, Roulette Records legendary owner, connects the dots to the label’s distribution setup and supposedly Nate’s execution style demise in ’80.

Calla Records was a rather unsung entity, and Nate McCalla certainly seemed to have an ear. In addition to The Sandpebbles, his roster included J.J. Jackson, Little Jerry Williams (aka Swamp Dogg), Jean Wells, The Emotions, The Fuzz, Lonnie Youngblood, The Persuaders and Betty LaVette. Not shabby.

‘Love Power’ was one of many greats written, and in this case produced, by Teddy Vann. Revived years later by Luther Vandross and made into an even bigger hit meant Teddy finally achieved a long awaited Grammy for such a powerful track.

The Sandpebbles may be little known. Still, lead vocalist Calvin White along with his two musical partners Andrea Bolden and Lonzine Wright, can always put claim to their performance on ‘Love Power’, one of soul’s best records ever.

I know, I sprang an entire week’s allowance for it, and my single still has the original price sticker to prove it.

Jay Dee Bryant

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Listen: Standing Ovation For Love / Jay Dee Bryant
Standing

Swamp Dogg has been a sign of dependable endorsement for years now, to these ears that is. Coincidentally, as time passes, I found a solid handful of Jay Dee Bryant singles had moved into the house uninvited. Glad they did though.

During ’74, Jerry Williams aka Swamp Dogg was doing his usual co-writes and productions for others. In this case, ‘Standing Ovation For Love’ was born. Thank you sweet Lord.

‘Standing Ovation For Love’ was picked up by Island UK, and issued on their short lived USA series, identified by it’s own prefix (USA) and numbers, and given unique label art. Well sort of issued that is. Reading the press release above, the company manufactured copies to test the waters. Not having seen a stock copy ever, my guess is it never got issued commercially. Plus given there were four other USA prefixed releases, all of which I do have retail copies of, it’s hard to verify.

Come ’76, another DJ run was pressed up as you can see above. Again, never saw a stock. Plus, I can’t find anyone from Island during either period that remembers. Therefore, no idea what happened, but can tell you something for sure. I play this constantly.

Inez & Charlie Foxx

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days / Inez & Charlie Foxx

(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days / Inez & Charlie Foxx

Listen: (1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days / Inez & Charlie Foxx
(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days / Inez & Charlie Foxx

There’s not a person I play this to who doesn’t, after one spin, decide they need a copy.

I was always extremely partial to this poor man’s Ike & Tina Turner, as I’d seen them referred to. Inez & Charlie Foxx had their biggest love in the UK, like so many before and after would too. But seeing them perform on Cleveland’s UPBEAT show in the 60′s confirmed my loyalty. UPBEAT was a weekly music program, with a good six to ten acts miming their latest releases on every episode. I guess the local network cornered all of them as they passed through Cleveland, happy to get any TV exposure. It was syndicated to various cities in the US, including Syracuse hence I got to see it every Sunday.

There’s a website for the show, and it is particularly boring to navigate – I believe the producer’s son deals with the estate, and basically highlights only the name acts, when the true interest in the show would be the many obscure ones that were on. Hopefully that footage was preserved and will be freed up. There is definitely a goldmine there.

So it was May of ’67 when I saw Inez & Charlie on that very show. We had recently upgraded to a family color TV, so everything was a technicolor dream come true. No bigger one than Inez Foxx in a skin tight floor length carnation pink dress playing a matching pink Stratocaster; and brother Charlie off behind her to the left singing and dancing on a very small riser perfectly clad in a matching pink chino suit, black shirt and pink tie. Talk about having your visual together. And ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’ was the song they performed. Produced and written by Charlie Foxx and Swamp Dogg, Gene Pitney covered it a year or so later. As great a singer as he definitely was, it was no match for Inez Foxx’s delivery. Along with Inez & Charlie Foxx’s ‘Come By Here’, ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Hurt By Love’, it’s a life long favorite.

Swamp Dogg

Monday, May 17th, 2010

SwampDoggCreeping, Swamp Dogg, Jerry Williams, Elektra

Listen: Creeping Away / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggCreepingAway.mp3

SwampDoggBelieve, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: Do You Believe / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggDoYouBelieve.mp3

I vividly recall my first look at the RAT ON! sleeve, his only album for Elektra from which both these single sides come. I thought, this is gonna be terrible.

There was nothing more I loved doing than checking every last record that came into our college station. I would sit for hours, well into the night, and instead of studying my class work, I studied records. Cataloging, suggesting cuts for airplay, deciding what to call into the labels for extra copies of, basically to fatten my collection. It was great being both MD and PD of a college station.

First listen, it went into a certain space, meaning very musical in a more grown up way, not unlike the occasional jazz or blues album that struck me, or The Crusaders, The Meters, The Blackbyrds and Dr. John.

I got slightly more interested when a 7″ showed up shortly thereafter. I loved this guys voice, and his name, terrific. Both sides segued nicely with ‘Wash Mama Wash’, a Dr. John single I liked playing on the occasional late, late shift I’d sit in for once in a while.

Gotta admit though, despite my liking of Swamp Dogg, I didn’t exactly follow up accruing the next few releases, which I recall being on the Brut label. I just wasn’t interested in certain record companies as a kid. Very stuck up, a know it all, basically an early version of a Pitchfork contributor. Well, a word to the wise, wrong attitude, a lesson learned later in life having to backtrack, filling in gaps of the vinyl collection. The Swamp Dogg gap being one in particular.

SwampDoggUKA, Swamp Dogg

SwampDoggHomeTooSoon, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long) / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggHomeTooSoon.mp3

SwampDoggJukeboxTab, Swamp Dogg, Jerry Williams, Inez & Charlie Foxx

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Jerry Williams

Come ’74, Swamp Dogg is suddenly on Island, with a seriously happening album HAVE YOU HEARD THIS STORY?. I worshipped every last track, could sing any one of them for you on a dime. And the sleeve, in one way, a mess. An out of focus shot of a very unkept Swamp Dogg in a very unkept room, surrounded by records and books, perched atop a bean bag chair. Yet in another way, completely inviting and totally descriptive of the music inside. His talent for some twisted lyrics, actually clever slants on slightly sleazy subjects drew me in further.

“Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long)’ Have a listen. Can’t be said any better, kind of funny yet very true. Always take care of your partner. And again, that signature voice.

SwampDoggMind, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: The Mind Does The Dancing / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggMind.mp3

A second UK single from the album, and pressed promo only. This was a hard one to track down, plus it’s an edit, making finding a copy even more necessary. The full 7:20 album version gets cut to 5:30, not that much of a radio friendly timing, but seems this was more aimed at clubs, given the disco leaning beat and a vocal that doesn’t begin until 2:22.

Besides, Island UK only did five singles with this label design and the USA catalog number prefix, all aimed seemingly at clubs. Given the time period, Swamp Dogg wasn’t far from Ike Turner’s musical path, wah-wahs and revue horns still in place.

For fun, a press release below that was inside the album’s radio station shipping envelope, which the hoarder in me saved. I had a habit of sticking all these type things inside the sleeves, making for sometimes fascinating reading nowadays.

SwampDoggLetter, Swamp Dogg, Danny Holloway, Island

Swamp Dogg indeed has many releases, starting in 1970. Prior, he recorded under his real name, Jerry Williams, beginning with Little Jerry Williams until, I’m assuming, he grew up.

Nice closing trainspotter bit here. Jerry Williams co-wrote and had studio involvement with, to me, Inez & Charlie Foxx’s greatest ever single (and those are big words as they had many): ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’.

Well in fact, one of the greatest soul singles of all times, posted elsewhere on this blog if you care to have a listen. Go ahead, start the first day of the rest of your life.

Swamp Dogg

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Did I Come Back Too Soon? / Swamp Dogg

Did I Come Back Too Soon? / Swamp Dogg

Listen: Did I Come Back Too Soon? / Swamp Dogg 01 Did I Come Back Too Soon_.mp3

Seemingly an ever present bargain bin resident, like everyone else, I just passed all his releases by in the day. Then I read he and Jerry Williams were one in the same. Wait, the Jerry Williams who had produced Inez & Charlie Foxx? It pays to read label credits.

Before that stuff vanished from those bins for good, I picked up a bunch. It was down and dirty. I liked this guy.

The great list of singles he’s written or produced or both is pretty impressive: ZZ Hill, Patti La Belle & The Bluebells, Arthur Conley, Ruth Brown, Gene Pitney etc etc. Being the Inez & Charlie freak, stalker, that I am, he’s a saint in my book, having co-written my all time favorite ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’.

In the 70′s he signed to Island, and released a great album from which they pulled two singles. This is one, with a fun story line that sounds as country as it does funky – was oddly a US B side but UK A side. If only it had been a hit.

Check out the CD compilation of his work on Ace: Blame It On The Dogg – The Swamp Dogg Anthology.