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Swamp Dogs (the)

The Swamp Dogs (german psychobilly band)

swamp dogs

The Swamp Dogs

The Swamp Dogs was one the best and most original German bands of the second half of the eighties. Sadly, a subtle combination of bad luck and bad timing didn’t allow them to reach the success they deserved.
In 2019, Crazy Love reissued their complete recordings on one superb LP, and, hopefully, a brand new generation will discover this excellent band.

The story of the Swamp Dogs begins in June 1982, when Nockes Kläpper (guitar and vocals) and Roland Heinrich (drums and vocals) form the Bop Cats. Later that year, in October, Christian “Doc Praetorious” Beekes and Thomas Jaroszek join the duo. After a period of rehearsal, the band plays its first gig in February 1983. In April, Atilla Yüncüoglu plays harmonica with the band on stage and secretly hopes to join them on piano. Around the same time, Nockes leaves the band to fully concentrate on his apprenticeship. Michael Schleifer, a friend of Thomas, integrates the line-up on bass guitar, and the Bop Cats become the Catweazles (to avoid confusion with another band called the Bop Cats). He’ll stay with the band only for a short spell leaving the combo after a couple of weeks, followed in October by Thomas.
January 1984. Roland starts to practice with a guitar and a cello leaving the drums to Attila (after all, a piano was a bit too expensive). The name changes once again to the Percolators, and they begin to add Psychobilly to their set-list. Still not able to buy one (he was 15 at the time), Heinrich either plays electric bass or borrows the slap bass of Marcel Strom of the R.A.T.S.
In February 1985, Attila leaves the combo to form his own band with his cousin Vural on guitar, Marcel Strom on bass, and Carsten Riemath on vocals. Jochen Vaupel replaces him.
By April 1985, things finally move fast. Roland buys a double bass, and Hagman (ex Crisis) joins the trio, giving birth to the Swamp Dogs. The line-up lasts until the end of the year when Jochen and Hagman leave. January sees the return of Attila, and later that year, Stefan Schusters climbs aboard as second singer and washboard player. The line-up is now Roland Heinrich (double bass and vocals), Stefan Schusters (vocals and washboard), Christian “Doc Praetorious” (guitar), and Attila (drums). More shows follow.

swamp dogsIn October, they record four songs (Roland and Stefan sing two songs each). The recordings were supposedly lost but reappeared when Crazy Love released the excellent Teenage Werewolf L.P. Thanks to a band’s friend, they open for Batmobile, Long Tall Texans, and Krewmen.
The year 1987 begins with Stefan leaving the band. They envisage the possibility to add a second guitar player but ultimately decide to keep on as a trio. By the time Roland’s taste has evolved, moving toward Garage bands like the Vibes, The Sting Rays, The Escalators, and the Medway scene.
The Swamp Dogs return to the studio in February to start working on an L.P. The recordings come to Peter Wahler’s ears, and the band releases its debut single (Bad Moon Rising/Mind & Music) in August. In the meantime, they share the bill with the Meteors, Les Wampas, and the Krewmen.
The single sell well enough to convince Rundell to record an album, thus in December 1987, they enter the studio. Being booked to open for the Krewmen during their German tour of February 1988, The Swamp Dogs hope to release their album for this date. Sadly not only is the tour postponed, but the record is not ready. Despite some live activities, the months pass, and the album is still not released—worst, Christian announces that he leaves the band.
Roland organizes a Summer Festival in Essen, which will be Christian’s farewell gig. The festival featuring the Scannerz and Cruisin’ is an absolute disaster, especially for Roland, the promoter. Not only is the attendance poor, but due to some vandalization, Roland is faced with a lawsuit. This marks the end of the Swamp Dogs.
Finally, one year after the recording sessions, My True Story is released on Rundell. But at the time, not very pleased by the violence one could find in gigs and the evolution of the Psychobilly genre toward Metal, Roland has returned to a more roots-oriented style of music, playing blues and hillbilly. He forms the Little Green Men with Attila and his cousin Vural. Two songs are recorded and appear on Listen To The Ape Call next to The Catfish trio, Clear Rats, Cruisin, and Rockabilly Mafia. The compilation also includes one track by the swamp Dogs.
Seeing that the band is still active, even if it’s under another name, Rundell offers them to record six songs for a split release with Ray Anthony and the Spingbusters, as long as they return to their old name.
In February, they record six songs, and the album is scheduled to be released in May. The band book shows to coincide with it, but once again, bad luck strikes, and the album is not released in time (it will not see the light of the day until June 1990!) It’s too late for the band, and by December 1989, the Swamp Dogs/Little Green Men have called it quit.
Roland Heinrich later formed the Crackerjacks with Andy Bungert (R.A.T.S) on drums and Uwe Grefrath. Attila joined Cruisin with his brother Aziz. Sadly Christian passed away in 2016.

Teenage Werewolf liner notes by Ernst Fröhlich
Interview with the Swamp Dogs in Transsylvanian News

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Swamp Dogs (the)

Swamp Dogs (the) – Teenage Werewolf

swamp dogs 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.

Available here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis
*The preview doesn’t do justice to the print job since it’s been done using fluorescent Pantone inks.

Ten Strike

Ten Strike – Rawkabilly

Ten Strike – Rawkabilly

Trail To Hell – That’s Right – Under Vultures – Lonely Nights

Hailing from Germany, this trio played a mixture of wild rockabilly and what is now called old school psychobilly. They started in the 80’s, had an album on Tombstone Record in 1989 (Outlaw) and supported acts like The Guana Batz, Stray Cats, The Keytones and The Frantic Flintstones. On hiatus for a few years the band returned with this mini lp. The slap bass led mid-tempo “Trail To Hell” has a fine cowboy ballad feel. The singer’s voice on this one reminds a bit of the dutch bands The Tigermen and their song “Gone, Gone, Gone” for those who remember them. “That’s Right” is maybe more classical, a fast rocker with a psycho edge but nonetheless very pleasant. Under Vultures is a new version of a song from their Outlaw lp, and has that fine 80’s neo-rockabilly in the chorus I like so much with backing vocals and stop-starts with slap bass solos. This too short ep ends with “Loneley Nights” a slow tempo with a bluesy feel. The overall production work is very well done and the songs are all written by the band.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Ten Strike - Outlaw
Ten Strike – Outlaw

Ten Strike – Outlaw

Tombstone – Tomb-Disc 681  [1990]

No More Reason To Cry – Long Legs – Under Vultures – Wide Open Land – That’s Right – Country Playin’ – Outlaw Man – Bound To Die – She Ain’t No Good – Wheels Of Steel – Don’t Look Now – 51 Merc – So Many Times

First long play by this German band released in 1990. The line up on this record is Jürgen Fröhlich on Guitar, Vocals, Peter Urban on Double Bass and Jochen Vaupel (who previously played in the Swamp Dogs) on drums.
This is a classic neo-rockabilly album with twelve self-penned songs and one interesting cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Dont Look Now.