Swampwater “Swampwater”

Swampwater

Swampwater’s 1970 debut stands alongside Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Guilded Palace of Sin, Poco’s debut, the Everly Brothers’ Roots and Bradley’s Barn as one of the best country-rock records ever.

Founder, Gib Guilbeau had a strong Bakersfield resume prior to forming Swampwater. Guilbeau and Gene Parsons had released a few early country-rock singles in the late 60′s as well as an album which eventually saw light of day in 1970 (although recorded in 1968-). The two recruited Clarence White in 1968 to record the legendary Nashville West album. This album has a good live feel and is highlighted by some of Clarence White’s best playing which was always breathtaking and revolutionary.

Eventually Swampwater formed and started out as Linda Ronstadt’s backing group in the late 60′s. Eric White, Clarence’s brother was also in the band and prior to forming Swampwater had been in the excellent Kentucky Colonels. Swampwater made two distinct albums in the early 70′s without Linda Ronstadt’s involvement. The above album was different than many notable country rock acts of the time for adding cajun and swamprock elements. The album opens and closes with two certified country-rock classics, Louisiana Woman and Big Bayou. Guilbeau had recorded the classy Louisiana Woman with both Nashville West and on his 1970 album with Parsons, though the version heard on Swampwater is the best. Big Bayou is a hard rocking, white hot country song with pretty fiddle that has been covered by many popular artists inlcuding Rod Stewart. Other songs like the acoustic flavored Man From New Orleans are highlighted by beautiful harmonies and a tear in your beer ambience.

Swampwater’s musicianship is high caliber and Guilbeau’s lyrics are always first-rate and thoughtful. Great songs like Kathleen, Desperation’s Back Again (supposedly an Everly Brothers homage with great down and out lyrics) and River People are beautifully arranged and display superior craftsmanship. It’s really a wall of greatness, with each song just as good as the next.

Swampwater mastered all the rural styles from cajun to folk-rock but just never received the breaks they so justly deserved. Their members were slugging it out in bars playing this sort of music years before anyone else had thought to do so. This album is a masterpiece and recommended to any true country fan.

Can anyone provide further information regarding their self-titled RCA album from 1971/1972?

EDIT: John Beland himself was kind enough to stop by and inform us about it in the comments! Thanks for visiting, John!

mp3: Big Bayou

:D CD Reissue | buy from amazon
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]


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9 Comments.

  • Brendan

    OK, I need this record right now. (Only needed to read the first sentence.)

  • Swampwater’s RCA album has never been re-issued on CD. It was recorded in 1971 at RCA studios in Hollywood

  • Jason

    Hi John, any chance of Swampwater’s RCA album making it onto cd? You were in the band if I am not mistaken? Any interesting stories concerning these albums or your time in Swampwater? What instruments did you play? The playing is extremely accomplished and tight, much stronger than the typical early 70′s band.

    Glad to hear from you,

    Jason N

  • Hi Jason
    I sent a rather extensice tracking list about the album in my last comment but it seems to have been lost. Do you know what happened to it? The comment only featured the first sentence.
    Lots of info on Swampwater (which I started with Gib) on my website http://www.johnbeland.com
    Thanks for the nice words.
    JB

  • Here is some background on our RCA album.

    Swampwater was formed by myself and Gib Guilbeau as Linda Ronstadt’s first solo backing band. Our original bass player was Eric White. However, he was replaced by Thad maxwell who played on all Swampwater recordings.
    Our second LP SWAMPWATER (funny that both our albums had the same title) was recorded at RCA studios in Hollywood and Nashville in 1971. The Nashville sessions were recorded while we were taping the Johnny Cash Show with Linda, Neil Young, Earl Scruggs and James Taylor.
    After Linda in 71, we went to work backing Arlo Guthrie, who wrote the sleeve notes for our RCA Album.
    Linda replaced us with the Eagles.

    Here is the line up for the RCA album:
    GIB GUILBEAU – VOCALS & FIDDLE
    JOHN BELAND – VOCALS AND ALL GUITARS & DOBRO
    THAD MAXWELL – BASS AND VOCALS
    STAN PRATT – DRUMS
    additional musicians included:
    SNEAKY PETE KLEINOW – STEEL
    CURLY CHALKER – STEEL
    JIMMY DAY – STEEL
    PAUL PARRISH – PIANO
    HERB PEDERSON – BANJO & GUITAR
    GLEN D HARDIN – PIANO
    JIM HORN – SAX & FLUTE
    DON TWEEDY – SAX
    LARRY MURRAY – PRODUCER

    This was our final album. Gib & I later played in the Flying Burrito Brothers and scored 9 hits for Curb in the 80′s. We also recorded a SWAMPWATER REUNION CD in 1979 that you can find on Amazon.

    Cheers & Thanks,
    John Beland

  • philspector

    Thanks for this wonderful Lp!!!
    can i suggest you the next country-rock entry ?

    “Bustin’ Out” by PURE PRAIRIE LEAGUE
    or maybe the first Lp by GOOSE CREEK SYMPHONY ?

    keep up the good work!!!

  • Press Release:

    (Brenham, Tx Jan 18, 2010) Good news…all 4 original members of SWAMPWATER have a agreed to record a 35 year re-union CD this year. It will be recorded in LA and Brenham, Texas. Gib Guilbeau, JOhn Beland, Thad Maxwell are all onboard.
    All new material will be written for the album, and the direction will stay close to the band’s original cajun / rock sound, with sweet harmonies.The Cd will also include surprise guests.
    John Beland will produce the project and hopefully will have it ready by Spring 2010.

  • Neil

    Is it possible to listen to the first Swampwater CD? I hear so many good things about it. It also only appears to be available to buy at top dollar on Amazon.

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