I grew up in North Long Beach just off Cherry Avenue and the 91 Freeway. As a teenager I was obsessed with music. During my junior and senior years at Jordan High School I'd jump the fence, take the city bus to the downtown library and read everything I could about modern music history. I was already playing in the school gospel choir during the day and doing gangster rap sessions in the evenings out in Inglewood. I started reading about all these records cut in the 60's and 70's in Los Angeles, and Muscle Shoals and Memphis. I read through album credits and would trace musicians from one project to the next. I looked up producer, engineer, writer, and studio names. Some people seemed to pop up over and over again.
Was it possible that one person could write songs for Gene Pitney and Johnny Paycheck, release charting singles as a solo artist, produce Irma Thomas and Duane Allman (on the same record), ditch their solo career for a new alter ego (and sell 500,000 copies), manage Dr. Dre and eventually get sampled by Kid Rock? The answer is Swamp Dogg.
I saw Swamp Dogg before I heard him. The cover of his 1971 album, "Rat On!" is impossible to forget. Not long afterward, I picked up the album, "Raw Spitt" and tried my best to make sense of the album credits:
Lucille • B.B. King's Guitar
Lucy · Albert King's Guitar
Elvis Presley • Col. Tom Parker's Guitar
Adolph Hitler· Humor Dept.
Gary (U.S.) Bonds · Adolph's Assistant
And so on ...
I got a call last week from Karl Hofstetter at Joyful Noise. He asked if I would be interested in working with Swamp Dogg for the Cause & Effect 7" series. I told him that if Swamp Dogg could come down to BIG EGO, my studio in Long Beach, we could just cut both tracks for the 7" during the same session. I got to work on making charts for the Total Destruction To Your Mind classic, "The Baby Is Mine" and I sent his daughter Jeri the lyrics and chords to "Road Song" which, not coincidentally, was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Everyone in Psychic Temple was confirmed for the session within an hour.
We recorded both songs with the band in the room together.
"The Baby Is Mine" was recorded first with George Madrid on pedal steel then "Road Song" was knocked out in three takes with MoogStar on Hammond organ. One of the musicians overheard Swamp Dogg say, "This is like cutting records in Alabama ... " Devin and I mixed the songs yesterday after breakfast and sent them off for mastering: a one-week turn around from recording to pressing the records.
I turned 41 this July and I'm still obsessed with music. My wife and I opened our studio a mile away from where I grew up and I've gotten really good at making records that no one seems to want to make anymore. When I'm not working, it's sad and when I'm working it's funny. This week I couldn't stop laughing.