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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul, 9 Aug 2011
By 
Dangerous Dave (Berkhamsted, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Best of Doug Sahm & the Sir Douglas Quintet 1968-1975 (Audio CD)
The folk at Mercury were brave and maybe a tad foolhardy, to get this one out so soon after the death of Doug Sahm. There is the rider "1968 - 1975" but how many people read that far. Most people stop at the "Best of". This one isn't a career best-of and certainly it's not got the hits and big numbers that most people associate with Doug like "She's about a Mover" and "Revolutionary Ways". Even some biggies (well to me anyway) from Mercury like "T-Bone Shuffle) and "Dallas Alice" aren't included. What it does have though is very good indeed: most of the tracks are predictably from Smash/Mercury/Phillips, including three from perhaps his best album from the timeframe, "The Return of Doug Suldana", two are from the Atlantic sessions, there's one from the Casablanca label and there are various odd singles and unreleased tracks. However for someone who doesn't have any or much of the Mercury material (or only has it on vinyl) this could represent a very good buy. For someone totally new to Doug both in his solo incarnation and as part of the Sir Douglas Quintet it's not a bad way in.

As with much of Sahm's output it's difficult to get your bearings when you start playing the album. There's psychedelic mex on "Mendocino", then easy listening on "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove day", a hard R&B backbeat on "I'm glad for your sake", country fiddle and grunge on "Texas Me", and so on. There are even touches of free jazz in the rather splendid "Song of Everything".

The "Doug Suldana" album represents one of the rare occasions in the 60's and 70's when our man decided to drop some of the genre hopping, the tex-mex and the cajun two steps, and focus his energies a little more - it has a great set of songs, many of which are reminiscent of their roots in roadhouse blues and 50's rock'n'roll. This was the music that Doug (and Augie) started out playing and was captured on "San Antonio Rock" (plus some variants) and revisited many years later in "Jukebox Music". The three numbers contained here are all classics in their own way: "Papa ain't salty" a T-Bone Walker Texas shuffle which was regularly in Doug's live set, "The Gypsy" an intriguing loose blues number which in later days was covered by many of the swamp pop guys, and lastly, the slowest ever, and surely the best, version of the only swamp pop number written by a Mexican, Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days & Wasted Nights" - "This is for you Freddy, wherever you are" shouts Doug. And Augie is taking the piano part on that battered Vox and Rocky Morales is soaring above it all on tenor sax.

That I find this album great and frustrating in equal measure shouldn't be any surprise - this is typical of much of Doug's music. Mind you it's not helped by the track ordering which isn't quite sequential, themed or random but has bits of all three! The Notes however are excellent with full musicians' listing for all tracks. Only because I feel that this best-of could have been treated slightly more satisfactorily am I dropping this to four rather than five stars. It still contains some staggeringly good tracks.

Maybe one day, Doug Sahm will get the 4 CD multi-label Retrospective Set that he so clearly deserves. I don't know. Somehow I can't see it happening.

You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul???????? It's a quote from "At the Crossroads".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Rosetta Stone of Southern music" Jerry Wexler, 8 Aug 2011
By 
Dangerous Dave (Berkhamsted, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I recall picking this up in a second hand rack of CD's, hoping that it would finally answer the question, do I really like Doug Sahm? I had bought an LP of his way back but always had mixed feelings about it due to the man (and band)'s maddening inconsistency. I liked the odd number very much but there plenty of buts about the rest.

Listening to this one for the first time started bringing back those memories. The opener was OK but I wouldn't say more. Then there were some very ragged tex-mex sounding tracks which seemed to consist of enthusiasm and not a lot else. There was a Dylan duet which arguably lowered the quality level even more. Things looked up with track 6 which was a tight riffing blues featuring our man on lead guitar. Then there was a tribute to the great Texas soul blues Bobby "Blues Boy" Bland with "Ain`t that loving you". And this one knocked me out it was so good. Sahm had evidently been steeped in Bobby Bland's music for many, many years and the Alantic session guys and Doug's crew complemented by Doctor John on sympathetic Hammond B3, were now playing to their strengths. The following track, another blues wasn't quite as awesome but was still pretty good.

From there on things bubbled along beautifully. Virtually every track did something for me. Big highlight was Doug's version of the late Bobby Charles' "Tennessee Blues" which, contrary to the title, isn't a blues. This was the first time I'd heard the song. I've heard other versions since but Doug's cut still seems the best to me. David "Fathead" Newman's horn provides the icing. There's a neat travelling song, and tribute to Jimmy Rodgers in "Box Car Hobo" with Flaco Jimenez in close attendance. And the pedal steel comes out on an excellent rendition of a great slow country song, "Image of Me". Easy listening cum latin gets a look in with "Blue Horizon". There's echoes of San Francisco `67 in "Song about myself". Great horns back up Augie's Vox on "Hard Way" - play this one loud!. "Betty Jo" has the hammered piano from early 60's swamp music - this could have come from some bar in Lafayette - it's got the rawness but with that edge of professionalism - though I`ve just checked the Notes and they say it`s "hard-coreEast side 1950`s bop-rock"!. And there's a lovely closer in "Chicano" whose title says it all. Flaco and Augie take us out topped by some Texas steel.

I've also warmed to the earlier tracks specially "Nitty Gritty". Heck they're all good.

As a closing comment I would add that there are several versions of the material from the Doug Sahm Atlantic sessions knocking about, complete with duplication between them - this seems par for the course with Sahm. The only way you can get (virtually) the lot is to purchase the massive double from Rhino titled "The Genuine Texas Groover". This was apparently a limited pressing of 5,000 copies which accounts for it's rather steep price.

Did I turn on to Doug? I think you may have guessed.
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The Best of Doug Sahm & the Sir Douglas Quintet 1968-1975
The Best of Doug Sahm & the Sir Douglas Quintet 1968-1975 by The Sir Douglas Quintet (Audio CD - 1994)
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