Music

Swamp Dogg: The White Man Made Me Do It

Part of this Dogg's appeal always could be found in his strange sense of humor and gritty look at reality. He's not above being vulgar or afraid to be saintly.


Swamp Dogg

The White Man Made Me Do It

Label: Alive Naturalsound
US Release Date: 2015-01-13
UK Release Date: 2014-12-15
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Connoisseurs of soul music consider Swamp Dogg (Jerry Williams) a genius for his six decades of work as a songwriter, singer, producer, and instrumentalist. Although he may not be known to the general public, R&B aficionados know and appreciate Dogg's body of work. Well, before we turn him into an idol and/or icon, we should remember; HE IS NOT DEAD! In fact, he's just released a 14-song disc that reveals why so many revere the man.

Part of this Dogg's appeal always could be found in his strange sense of humor and gritty look at reality. He's not above being vulgar or afraid to be saintly, whether singing about love, race, politics, sex, or god, even at the same time. That's as true today as it ever was. Dogg opens with a history lesson and a civics lecture on the opening track, "The White Man Made Me Do It" from which the album gets its title. He asserts slavery and Jim Crow racism made black people what they are, a great people who had to be better than whites to survive. He notes black Americans—male and female—have thrived in every walk of life from business to medicine to music to science and invention to politics. And he does this to a funky electric guitar lick reminiscent of Prince's "Kiss", heavy horns, and a rich pulsating beat.

Dogg covers several oldies, and by that I mean old for him (pre-seventies) including Sam Cooke's romantic "You Send Me", the droll humor of The Clover's "Your Cash Ain't Nothing But Trash", and The Coaster's tale of warning, "Smokey Joe's Café". He makes this songs fresh again by putting his own spin on them. He's true to the sources without copying them by singing in his own voice in soul revue fashion. Although they are studio productions, they feel live and vibrant. So when he changes a lyric from "He grabbed me by the collar and began to shout / You'd better eat up all your beans boy and clear right on out" to go "You eat up all you chili beans and get the fuck out", it sounds as if he is doing the earthy original instead of a new interpretation of a classic Leiber/Stoller song.

He also sings the blues on such tracks as "Lying, Lying, Lying Woman", "If That Ain't The Blues Nothing Is", and "What Lonesome Is". Dogg's pleading voice contains the cold rain and cold women that make up his world, but there remains a glint of optimism. The sun may set every evening, but he knows it rises again in the morning. That explains why he can sing spirituals such as "I'm So Happy" and "Light a Candle Ring a Bell" with such conviction. When life brings him to his knees, he knows it's time to pray and be thankful for what he has. Dogg never pretends to be holier than anyone else and reminds us to lend others a helping hand.

Crate diggers consider finding one of Dogg's old records a major find. However, one doesn't have to search dusty bins for old soul gems. You could just buy a brand spanking new copy of The White Man Made Me Do It and blame it on me. I gladly accept that responsibility!

8

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image