Swamp Dogs (the) – Teenage Werewolf
Crazy Love Records 64416
Side A: Hopeless Aimless – Three Wolfmen – Power of the Drums – Teenage Werewolf – I Dreamt – The Night The Banshees Cried – Bad Moon Rising
Side B: Hopeless Aimless – My True Story – I Dreamt – Ardath Bey – The Night The Banshees Cried – Be A caveman – Moonblood – Mind and Music
The late eighties were an exciting time for the teenager that I was. After the initial shock stirred by the Stray Cats, the Cramps, and the Meteors, I delved into this new music scene like there was no tomorrow. I was discovering and devouring with no distinction records by Hank Williams, Johnny Burnette, and the Frantic Flintstones. Each week I found a new band, thanks to a friend who had a much more extensive collection than me. One day he recorded me a cassette with the Swamp Dogs mini-lp. I was hooked. The Swamp Dogs were different from the rest of the Psychobilly bands. After much persuasion, I managed to buy the vinyl from him. I had to have it. In the following thirty years, my record collection grew up and changed. I sold some records, traded others, but the Swamp Dogs remained firmly in the “do-not-sell-at-any-price” category, even though I carefully transferred it onto a cd.
One year after pleasing all the Psychobilly fanatics by releasing the long lost and last album of the Krewmen, Crazy Love reiterates with the complete recordings of the Swamp Dogs.
The first four tracks of side one are the early studio recordings of the band. Roland Heinrich takes the lead on two tracks (including Three Wolfmen that sounds like a psychotic version of Crawdad Hole), and Screamin’ Stefan Schuster sings the threatening and bluesy Power of the Drums and Teenage Werewolf (an original song, not the Cramps tune.) Yes, the Swamp Dogs briefly had a second singer, that’s what you’ll learn with this album, and the extensive liner notes included.
Four months later, when the Swamp Dogs returned to the studio to record their next session (tracks A5 to A7 and B1 and B8), Schuster was gone, and the trio had developed its unique sound. Next to Roland’s unmistakable vocals and powerful slap bass, it is essential to mention Christian’s one-of-a-kind style. This guy created a sound of his own by mixing influences that, I suppose, went beyond the Psychobilly and Rockabilly genres. With the help of Attila’s sparse drumming, the trio slowly departed from the “rockabilly on speed” pattern that was often used to play Psychobilly and expanded their style with songs featuring unusual structures. Except for “Bad Moon Rising” and “Mind and Music,” the whole session, like the previous one, remained unissued and appears here for the first time.
At the end of 1987, the trio was back in the recording room to cut their mini-LP (THE famous mini LP.) Once again, they took their vision one step further. If “My True Story” and “The Night the Banshees Cried” bring the essential touch of fast Psychobilly, the new and improved version of “I Dreamt” is an eerie and hypnotic tune. Likewise, Ardath Bay keeps the Rockabilly ingredients to which they add an Oriental vibe as well as a quote of Swan Lake.” Moonblood” manages to be raw and melodic, and is another proof of Heinrich’s songwriter talent. The set is completed by a cover “Be A Caveman” from the Avengers (via Ug and the Cavemen.) that shows some garage influences.
Crazy Love didn’t cut corners: heavy cardboard, superb printing*, a lengthy history of the band, tons of pictures, and I repeat seven tracks released here for the first time.
Considering that the mini-LP is also hard to find, this reissue is sure to sell like glasses of water in the burning desert. But no need to write to me, even though I have this album, I keep my mini-LP too.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
*The preview doesn’t do justice to the print job since it’s been done using fluorescent Pantone inks.