Thursday, March 28, 2013

Doug Sahm "The Return of Wayne Douglas"

GUEST REVIEW BY GENTLEMAN JOHN BATTLES (SteadyBoy)  Whenever the subject of pioneering Country Rockers comes up, names like Gram Parsons, Mike Nesmith and Rick Nelson are usually among the first to be dropped, and rightfully so, but what of Doug Sahm? Anyone remotely familiar with the cat knows he had more different styles than Carnaby Street in it's ascension, but he began his remarkable musical career as a small, small boy, a pre-teen steel guitar prodigy. His dad took him to the Honky Tonks, where he was photographed sitting on Hank Williams' boney knee. Even when he staked his claim in Rock n Roll with The Sir Douglas Quintet, his was probably the only album of 1965 to contain a version of "He's In The Jailhouse Now" not sung by a guy in a rhinestone Nudie suit. In the Late 60s The SDQ were already incorporating C & W- based originals, anchored by Doug's Country-as-chicken fiddle playing. Doug never got his just due for being hip to Country and making Country hip, but he would always return to his first love, and, in what would sadly amount to his last sessions, he ain't just "Huggin' Thin Air," as he would lament in one of the dozen heartfelt selections on tap here for you. Doug Sahm's swan song release, unjustly, met with poor distribution when it was originally released on CD. It's possible that many of his fans never knew it existed. Doug's friend in this life, and fan for ALL life, Freddie "Steady" Krc, saw that this was a situation that needed to be rectified, PRONTO!  This time around, the album gets the full treatment it, and the fans, deserve. Deluxe 15O Gram Vinyl (Plus a Free Download Card), full color artwork by Kerry Awn (who did the SWEET poster for Doug's memorial show), liner notes by Rush Evans and one color photo by Bob Zink (Doug in all his glory, playing at a used car lot with an older couple waltzin' across Texas behind him). Even if you actually have the elusive CD, you need this on vinyl. Why? BECAUSE DOUG SAHM'S A STONE GROOVE!!!!!!!! This is the Hardcore Honky Tonk, the kind of stuff you could be forgiven for thinking had left this world before Doug actually did. It hearkens to the fun, Big Fiddle sound of Mercury-era Sir Douglas Quintet (e.g. "Dynamite Woman,” "Magic Illusion,” "Texas Me,” which is re-made in glorious fashion here), but it's music that isn’t pissing around, like these new "Country" acts that make Garth Brooks sound like George Jones with six sets of balls. Sahm doesn’t mince words putting those phonies down, either. "Oh, No! Not Another One,” is probably Doug's best Down Home Humorist fare since "You Can't Hide a Redneck (Underneath That Hippie Hair), but Sahm is serious as he was about the sanctity of baseball when he sings "He skips across the stage like a gazelle...I'll bet he's never heard of Lefty Frizzell...Oh, no, not another one." He's going up to bat (with lead, not cork, in his Louisville Slugger) as a Country Music fan, as if there could be any doubt about his passion. Aided by a starting lineup, which includes Augie Meyers, Bill Kirchen, steel guitar maestro Tommy Delamore, and monster fiddle player Bobby Flores, San Antonio's Number One Son brings it all back home, not knowing he'd soon be going home himself. His spirited vocals cut a trail through songs of sin ( "Cowboy Peyton Place,” "I Can't Go Back To Austin," and the SDQ staple, "Dallas Alice”) and redemption (“Beautiful Texas Sunshine ,” the opener).  Listen close to his reflective take on the classic, "Texas Me.” Like this fine album as a bookend to Sahm’s long career, there's a nice surprise at the end.

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