Doug Sahm ‘Doug Sahm and his Band’

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#820 in the Series) is Doug Sahm, Doug Sahm and his Band

Doug Sahm was Americana Roots Rock before the respective terms even existed.  A multi –instrumentalist child prodigy, his career going all the back to the Louisiana Hayride in the 50’s appearing with the likes of Hank Williams, Web Pierce, and Hank Thompson , Sahm was first and foremost a band leader. From his early days with The Pharaoh’s, his career defining stint with The Sir Douglas Quintet where they released the hit “She’s About a Mover” along with the California classic “Mendocino,” and the subsequent forming of the Tex –Mex Travelling Wiburys, The Texas Tornados that featured Flaco Jiminez, Augie Myers, and Freddie Fender, Doug Sahm virtually invented the Tejano influenced and Cajun inspired off-shoot of Country Music that is still going strong today.

Signing with Atlantic Records and Jerry Wexler to establish his solo career, Sahm used his skills as a band leader along with a stellar stable of record label artists that included Bob Dylan, Dr. John, David Bromberg,  David “Fathead Newman”, along with members of The Tower of Power horn section to create an album that might not be his best, Groover’s Paradise his subsequent release that included the song  “Houston Chicks,” holds that honor, is never the less a powerful gumbo sort of record where the Rock and Roll, Blues, Cajun, Tejano and Gospel influences all come together for a fine Texas barbeque listen.

Doug Sahm and His Band, is not a cohesive listen, the songs on the album were whittled down from a series of sessions where dozens of songs were recorded, and as a result the record has a sort of unfinished quality to it, not unfinished in a rambling sort of way, but unfinished in an I don’t want this album to end sort of way.

The hits jump off early with the hometown classic “(Is Anybody Going To) San Antone,” leading off and setting the Tex-Mex stage that is at the core of the album. Sahm himself only wrote 3 songs, but he very much does justice to the superbly selected cover tunes that are include here including a rollicking more Country Swing version of “Me and Paul” that goes from cool to spectacular with a mid-song piano solo by the good Doctor John, and a Tower of Powerful series of brass interludes. Is that Bob Dylan on the harmonica here, not sure but the mouth organ performance on this song certainly adds a nice subtle touch.  Speaking of Bob Dylan, he wrote and takes lead vocal on “Wallflower,” a song that has not previously appeared on any Bob Dylan album, and for many this would be worth the price of admission alone, and is a wonderful listen.

The Texas Tornado style “Poison Love” allows Flaco Jiminez, the Zamfir of the accordion, to take center- stage, and the genre-hopping ramps up even more with the blues influenced “Papa Ain’t Salty,” and “Blues Stay Away From Me” the latter featuring Bob Dylan on guitar and brother on brother verse swapping with Doug Sahm.

The little bit of patter that has been left in between songs only serves to enhance the live and electric feel of this album, and the artists that that contributed to this feel-good effort clearly were having a good time making this record, and were definitely in synchronicity with one another.

The Mount Rushmore of Texas Artists includes Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, and Doug Sahm, and this album should go up right next to Texas Flood and Red Headed Stranger on your record shelf.  The shame of it all is that Doug Sahm died of a heart attack, a victim of hard living in 1999 at the tender age of 59.  And to think if he were alive today and in his early seventies he would be right in the Rick Rubin resurrection project wheelhouse.

But then again if what- ifs were three wishes, Buddy Holly would be fronting The Waco Brothers with John Langford, Patsy Cline would be recording on Jack White’s Third Man record label, and Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers would still be good.

– Walt Falconer, Houston Texas, USA 

Track Listing

  1. (Is Anybody Going To) San Antone 3:10
  2. It’s Gonna Be Easy 3:32
  3. Your Friends 5:24
  4. Poison Love 4:22
  5. Wallflower 2:41
  6. Dealer’s Blues 2:58
  7. Faded Love 3:57
  8. Blues Stay Away from Me 4:48
  9. Papa Ain’t Salty 4:31
  10. Me and Paul 3:35
  11. Don’t Turn Around 3:29
  12. I Get Off 2:38

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Posted by Larry Carta


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