A Mighty Fine Disc From a Mighty Talented Dude

Jesse Christen

Jesse Christen

What can I say about Doug Sahm that hasn’t already been said? Not much, other that he has a new CD of two of his finest “best of” collection.

Titled He’s About a Groover, An Essential Collection from the Texas Tornado, the name pretty much sums up the CD. The two-disc collection features the best of Sahm’s early rock ‘n’ roll work with groups like the Markays, Pharaohs, Dell-Kings and his own solo monikers on disc one. Disc two is a Sir Douglas Quintet “best of.”

Sahm, a prolific songwriter, performer, guitarist, pianist, saxophonist and violinist, was a child prodigy who sat in with the late, great Hank Williams in Sahm’s home of San Antonio, Texas. Williams was so impressed with Sahm’s abilities he gave him this advice, “Don’t ever quit.””

Sahm never did quit until his death in 1999 at age 58 from a congenital heart aliment.

Over the course of his vast career he covered everything from country, blues, pop, Tex-Mex, rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelia, folk, polka, western swing, new wave, Cajun and more. His only rule was “It’s gotta be a groove, man.”

While studying at the feet of greats like T-Bone Walker and whoever else graced the Texas nightclub stages a young Sahm would haunt. With his inspired guitar work, Sahm cut many excellent rock ‘n’ roll and R&B singles all while he was still a teenager. Disc one is dedicated to these recordings. If you like raw, roots-inspired music, this is for you.

Disc two is all Sir Douglas Quintet material. Sahm was christened “Sir Douglas” under the pressure of his management in order to sound more British. Remember, these were the days of Beatlemania and the British invasion. While the name was an obvious attempt to cash in on a fad, the music was as far from it as possible. While groups like the Beetles and the Rolling Stones regurgitated American rock ‘n’ roll and Blues they heard on record, Sahm had witnessed and taken part in the real deal.

The Sir Douglas Quintet combined a unique mixture of Mexican music, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, Cajun and hippie psychedelia in package distinctly American and undeniably Texan.

Some of the Quintet’s finest moments came when the band was in exile in San Francisco during the late ’60s; Texas had unjustly harsh drug laws back then, and being of the drug-soaked ’60s rock music scene, the Quintet got into a little trouble with the law. Songs like “Mendicino,” “Nuevo Laredo” and “Texas Me” all find Sahm singing about his longing for his home, Texas. This two-disc collection is a must for anyone who’s a fan of American music. Check it out and see what you’ve been missing. And if you are scared to listen to something you’ve never heard, chances are you’ve hummed along with the Quintet’s oldies radio gem, “She’s About a Mover,’ the groups biggest hit. Chances are you never knew what band performed it.

4.5 stars (out of 5)