Friday, September 9, 2016
Sir Doug is back, and it's a testament to changing tastes that his retooled '60s sound fits in perfectly with today's jangly alternative music. What's startling is how little it's retooled. The Beatle hair may be gone, but the Austin, Texas-via-Sooke, B.C. songwriter is still purveying his infectious blend of Tex-Mex rhythms, bluesy singing, cheesy garage-band effects, and wall-o'-guitar twang (maybe too much guitar on some tracks). It helps that veteran Quinteters, like Farfisa-man Augie Meyers and guitarist Louie Ortega, are back, and they're joined by Creedence Clearwater rhythm-men Doug Clifford and Stu Cook. Son Shawn Sahm is also in the fold, on guitars and vocals, and he co-wrote the set's catchiest tune, "Too Little Too Late", with his gruff-voiced dad. "Intoxication" and "Dylan Come Lately" are other standouts, with lyrics about the music Sahm still loves to death.
Those familiar with the music of Doug Sahm know he has his hard rocking side, especially in the context of the Sir Douglas Quintet. For example, take a cut such as "Baby It Just Don't Matter" from the Mendocino album, which rocks almost as hard as a Jimi Hendrix track. Nonetheless, even albums by the quintet are known for an eclectic mix of rock, country, and folk rock. This particular record is the first one that featured Sahm in a totally hard rocking context, the tracks jumping from one heavy groove to the next like some kind of old Saturday night FM underground radio show hosted by rowdies. Those that connect rock music only with the cult of youth need exposure to this sort of project, which seamlessly presents the music as a meeting of several generations, in this case the Sahm clam. Sons Shandon Sahm playing some drums and Shawn Sahm playing lots of guitar are here rocking out magnificently with their old man. Another hot picker named John Jorgensen is on board, and between him and Sahm father and son, the listener will be bombarded with several generations worth of rock & roll licks, literally. Playing drums on most of the tracks is Doug Clifford, whose distinctive style helped make the records of Creedence Clearwater Revival sound so good. He is in fine form here, locking in tight with quintet veteran Speedy Sparks on bass. A total highlight is the fun track "Dylan Come Lately," with lyrics making fun of Bob Dylan imitators, and a section of guitar solos in which the streams of both Chuck Berry and Eddie Van Halen meet in a bubbling spring. The loud, distorted, crunching electric guitar riffs just seem to keep piling up from track to track. Obviously, if one's taste veers more toward Sahm's country projects, then stay clear of this one. Otherwise, lots and lots of fun.
by Eugene Chadbourne