“Raw Spitt” was the alter ego laid on Charlie Whitehead by his friend and mentor Jerry Williams, Jr. The latter had recently renamed himself “Swamp Dogg,” and was beginning to build a stable of artists. Williams and Whitehead had met in New York, and they developed a rich musical relationship that included both songwriting and original performances, with Williams producing Whitehead for this 1970 release on the Canyon label. Whitehead would release later material under his own name, but it’s the socially-charged songs of this rare full-length debut that minted the singer’s reputation with soul fans.
Written primarily by Williams and Troy Davis, the album is apiece with Swamp Dogg’s own debut, Total Destruction to Your Mind, and this reissue includes a version of Total Destruction‘s “Synthetic World” among the five bonus tracks. Aside from a few pop and soul covers (“Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “This Old Town” and “Hey Jude”), the album is populated with outspoken songs of social malfunction – rough childhoods and racially proscribed adulthoods – and anthems of unyielding will and self-empowerment. As on Total Destruction, the surface-level absurdity found in some of the song titles and lyric hooks quickly gives way to deeper messages; Williams was a man with much to say, and having found a forum, he was going to say it with little indirection.
Whitehead proved a superb front man for these songs, with a voice that was deeper than Williams’ own, with a ragged, soulful edge that suggested Otis Redding. Williams’ funky, soulful productions were well-served by Capricorn’s studio in Macon and a backing band that included James Carr, Johnny Sandlin, Robert “Pop” Popwell and Paul Hornsby. Long out of print, the album’s ten tracks previously appeared on the import Charlie Whitehead Anthology. Alive’s reissue restores the original album artwork, and includes two bonus tracks (“Synthetic World” and “Hey Jude”) that didn’t appear on the earlier compilation. This is a great find for those few who knew of Raw Spitt, those tracking down Williams’ work as a producer, and anyone seeking new veins of fine ’70s soul. [Â©2013 Hyperbolium]