The Psychedelic Swamp
The not-so-nutshell backstory, from a 2010 Detroit Metro Times interview with member Scott McMicken:
“Dr. Dog didn’t make ‘The Psychedelic Swamp.’ It was sent to us by a character named Phrases, who … escaped Earth and … all his woes to go to the psychedelic swamp as a means of release. …
“Then he gets there and at first he’s really excited and … amazed at the lack of logic and … order to the universe. … Shortly thereafter (he) realizes that the same issues … persist. …
“He starts to get desperate … but at the same time (realizes) he’s … losing perspective on how to communicate with his former self and … former world. … So the record becomes … more and more incoherent. … He has this strong message that he really wants to spread to people, so he chooses Dr. Dog to be the band to … translate this mess into an American pop context.”
The never-officially-released original “Swamp” of 15 years ago has been distilled from its rumored 35 tracks (a 28-song version exists deep in the Internet) to 13 tracks, with just enough psychedelia intact — “Swampadelic Pop,” for example, features keyboard solos that inspire thoughts of a surreal “Palisades Park” or “Crocodile Rock.”
“Golden Hind” hands over the vocal reins to former member Doug O’Donnell, on a tune that sounds eerily like Johnny Cash hanging ten on a Southern California beach.
But the centerpiece is “Bring My Baby Back,” a lost-love ballad juxtaposing good ol’ piano and organ with synthesizer and processed drums.
Other highlights include the incorporation of synthesized whistling into “Holes in My Back,” the Neil Young and Crazy Horse-style feedback on “Engineer Says” and the Ray Davies/Marc Bolan vibrato vocals that propel “Good Grief.”
Peppered throughout the album are reasonable facsimiles of various vintage video-game sound effects. A few spoken-word interludes by Phrases, à la Frank Zappa’s Central Scrutinizer narrator from “Joe Garage,” tie together some of the tracks.
1. Golden Hind
2. Dead Record Player
3. Swampadelic Pop
4. Bring My Baby Back
5. Holes In My Back
6. Fire On My Back
7. Swamp Descent
8. Engineer Says
9. In Love
10. (swamp inflammation)
12. Good Grief
13. Swamp Is On
Total time: 39:02