Blues Underground Network
Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark "Raw"
It is not long after "Raw" starts, that the waves of Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark's Harmonica playing gentle sweep through the speakers, giving us all a sneak preview of the great Harpfest to follow.
Originally hailing out of York, Pennsylvania, Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark now resides in Washington D.C. area where he is regarded as one of the best Harmonica players around. Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark has thrilled audiences up and down the East Coast, for years, with not only his masterful harmonica playing, but also for his amazingly talented showmanship. 2010 further brought Anthony to the spotlight with him winning the Washington D.C. Blues Battle, as well as, making it to the semifinals of this years 2011 International Blues Challenge, in Memphis. In addition to also being a staple at many Blues Festivals, Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark is also highly sought after as a player on others projects, which recently included a soon to be released project, featuring himself, Kenny Neal, and Memphis Gold.
Joining Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark on "Raw", is his amazing band, which he refers to as, The Blues Allstars and include Charles "Reds" Adkins (Bass), Ken Sparks (Guitar), Glenn Alexander (Guitar), and Andy Hamberger (Drums). "Raw" was produced by Anthony Clark with Andy Hamberger getting credit as Associate Producer. Special Guest appearances on "Raw", included Nadine Rae and Linwood Taylor, both massive talents in their own rights, which they had no problem showing us with Nadine's heavenly vocals on "Do Unto Others" and Linwood's searing Guitar work on two instrumental Tracks "Jump" and "Moanin".
"Raw" consists of 7 straight ahead no nonsense blues of which 5 Tracks are originals by Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark. For the covers on "Raw", Anthony chose a couple of great songs, with the first being James Cotton's "One More Mile To Go". I found a few versions of "One More Mile To Go" in which one where James Cotton plays it real slow and the other is done at a fairly fast tempo. Anthony chose to play this one at pretty close to Cotton's faster tempo version and after listening to the both of them, I must say that Anthony did a really good job and certainly justice to that fine song.
The second cover on "Raw" was "Hoochie Coochie Man", which is "sometimes referred to as (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man", and which is of course the "blues standard written by Willie Dixon and first performed by Muddy Waters in 1954". WikiPedia has a list of over 30 Artists that have covered "Hoochie Coochie Man", which included well known Blues artists, such as, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and Etta James, and surprisingly enough a few artists for which when you think of the Blues, their names don't come to mind, such as Supertramp, Motorhead, Steppenwolf, and the New York Dolls. Muddy Waters original version, which I found on YouTube clocked in at 2:53, and is perhaps one of the shortest versions of that song. Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark's version clocks in at an epic 8:35, and for it's shear rawness and intensity, courtesy Anthony's great Vocals and Harmonica, as well as the rest of the bands great playing, this version of "Hoochie Coochie Man", will certainly be considered an enormous tribute to Willie Dixon.
Beyond Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark's amazing talent as an Harmonica player, he is also a very talented singer and songwriter, of which you become aware of his singing talent right off the bat, with the opening Track "One More Mile To Go" and his songwriting and arranging talent with the next 5 Tracks on "Raw", of which 3 are wonderful instrumentals which show off, not only his skills with Harmonica, but also the wonderful talent of all the other artists involved with this production.
Picking a couple of favorites off an exceptionally good album, such as "Raw" is never easy, so I decided to pick my favorite regular song and my favorite instrumental, with the regular song being, the amazingly done cover "Hoochie Coochie Man" and the equally amazing instrumental, "Jump".
"Raw" marked my first introduction to Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark, an introduction which thoroughly impressed me. I am very grateful for Anthony reaching out to me and acquainting me with his music, for which I hope he continues to put out on a fairly regular basis.
"Raw" is an album I have no problem Highly Recommending, especially for those of you whom are fans of superb blues harmonica playing, for which Anthony 'Swamp Dog' Clark's is one of the best out there today.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. One More Mile To Go 5:01
2. Do Unto Others 5:04
3. Jump 6:39
4. Moanin 3:09
5. Old Man 3:19
6. Swamp Dog Shuffle 3:19
7. Hoochie Coochie Man 8:38
Listen To Samples Here...