Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Doug Sahm/Sir Douglas Quintet

On Playboy After Dark, check out Barbi Benton's dress. Trini Lopez introduces SDQ. With human statues as props.
Has it really been eleven years since Doug Sahm died? Man, do I miss seeing him play. He'd come through NYC nearly every year, or at least every other year, sometimes with a version of the Sir Douglas Quintet, whom I saw several times at the old Lone Star Cafe, and once in Central Park (at their last Sir Douglas Quintet appearence in NYC, a friend of mine who I shall not name, beaned Paul Schaffer, who shoved Augie Meyer off the organ to jam, in the head with a peanut). One of the best Doug Sahm shows I ever saw was at the Lone Star with a band called the Masked Marvels who all wore wrestling masks (except Doug), it was Doug, Mike Buck on drums, Rocky Morales on sax, Augie Meyer on organ, Speedy Sparks on bass and John Reed (who plays the amazing solo on Roky Erickson's Don't Slander Me) on guitar, and maybe fiddler Alvin Crow, I can't quite remember if he was there or not. They did everything from Bacon Fat to You're Gonna Miss Me to Wooly Bully. In fact, I never saw Doug Sahm play a bad show, or even a mediocre one. He may have been taken for granted in his adopted hometown of Austin, but here in New York he always found an enthusiastic audience. I just finished reading Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahm by Jan Reid with Shawn Sahm (University Of Texas Press, 2010), and despite a few factual errors (all fairly minor, for one thing Roky Erickson is singing "I'm workin' in the Kremlin" in Two Headed Dog), and questionable critical judgements (personally, I don't think the lyrics to Mendicino are trite, I think the line "Fast talkin' guys/with strange red eyes/put things in your head and get your mind to wanderin'" is kinda genius. I mean we're talking rock & roll lyrics). All things considered, it's a good read. And since it's rather unlikely anyone else writes a biography of Doug Sahm (although given the amount of music he made, he deserves several more volumes dedicated to him), if you're a fan you're gonna buy this thing. There really was nobody else like Sahm, a guy who could do country, R&B, blues, garage rock, all sorts of Mexican styles (sometimes all in the same set) and do it all well. Anyway, I thought you'd enjoy the above clips, the color one is from Playboy After Dark and the B&W is from Hullabaloo where they're introduced by Trini Lopez. The last time I looked the entire Mercury Recordings of Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet (all five CD's worth) were posted here. Including an alternate take of At The Crossroads that I'd never heard before. I'd move fast, stuff like that doesn't stay up for long. If you have no idea who Doug Sahm was, you missed one of the 20th century's greatest musicians, and I feel sorry for you, a good introduction to him and his music can be found here.

27 comments:

Rob Patterson said...

Thanks, Hound! One of my great joys in life was gaining Doug as a friend.

Dickie Nelson said...

Great Clips! Thanks for posting. What a mouth he has, like Steve Tyler. He makes singing look so easy. - I think it is time someone did a biography of Barbi Benton and her thoughts on music and musicians since she was around so many of them.

Matthew said...

Is it "strange RED eyes" or "strange lit eyes?" I've always heard "lit." Either one works equally well. What a great song. I for one would dance to it with a Playboy Bunny...

Dave in Canada said...

I'm so glad that you've devoted some space to extolling the virtues of Sir Doug - just managed to read some of the chapters of "Texas Tornado" on google books. Being that I only got into the SDQ after his death in 1999, it's very strange to put some history to the music of a man that I always found to be very enigmatic. FYI, if you're feeling moral, you can pick up the 5 CD box set on iTunes for 9.99. If that's not a deal, I don't know what is.

The Hound said...

"FYI, if you're feeling moral, you can pick up the 5 CD box set on iTunes for 9.99. If that's not a deal, I don't know what is."

I'll second that, although being the fan I am I had to actually go out and buy the thing to feel like I was actually getting something, I think I paid around $50 for it, so Itunes is indeed quite a good deal.

Dave in Canada said...

"I'll second that, although being the fan I am I had to actually go out and buy the thing to feel like I was actually getting something, I think I paid around $50 for it, so Itunes is indeed quite a good deal."

Agreed, but shipping costs can be a bit of a problem north of the border. Also, the indie store in town was trying to sell it for around 130.00 - thought that was a little ridiculous. But, believe me, I would willing to buy it all over again just to check out the extensive booklet that is shown on the Hip-O website.

Hound, what are your thoughts on the "Honkey Blues" album? That one's been quite the sleeper gem for me.

The Hound said...

"Hound, what are your thoughts on the "Honkey Blues" album? That one's been quite the sleeper gem for me."

I like the cover of Linda Lu the best, some of it really captures Doug in his hippie dippie moments, but like all his records it has some moments of greatness.
One of my favorites is the Norton album of all his pre-Sir Doug 45's, I especially dig his version of Johnny Ray's Cry. Also the Atlantic years box has some good un-issued tracks including one called Bobby's Blues, a Bobby Bland tribute that capture a snippet of him and Jerry Wexler arguing because Wexler wanted another take and Doug thought they hadn't recorded the thing.

Anonymous said...

That's MIKE Buck on drums. A friend quit reading Jan Reid's biography on Doug after counting 70mistakes. Thanks for the post.

skylolo99 said...

I was lucky enough to get to sit in with Doug Sahms many years ago. My band opened up for his and he let me plug my guitar in and play along fo more songs than I deserved.
He did an unbelievable version of Purple Haze. A real sweet and humble guy. The place was rocking.

Anonymous said...

Some of the best shows I ever saw, were when Doug played with the West Side Horns. He might pull out 'Song of Everything', 'Blessed Are These Tears' or 'Why Why Why'. I don't think this group played much outside of Antone's.

Andy Berger said...

Hi, great stuff! I saw Sir Douglas Quintet 4 times here in Sweden in the mid 80's. Fantastic gigs. Doug, Augie, Rocky Morales, Louie Ortega, Speedy Sparks, George Rains, and a guy i think named Mike Campell, great guitarist and fiddle player. There's a great pic of Doug from one of the gigs here. http://www.rackis.se/album/Hasse%20Eriksson/slides/DougSahm.html
Thanks Hound, great blog.

Mike Buck said...

Hound --thanks for the mention,I have fond memories of Doug's NYC gigs except I almost had a nervous breakdown dealing with that damn mask,after the lone star i refused to wear it.Doug let me compromise by wearing a pair of shades for the rest of the tour.
I read your blog just about every day and enjoy it very much.
Mike Buck

J.D. Hughes said...

Texas Rock for country Rollers is one of my favourite records of all time.
I have it on , LP and CD. Still looking for a cassette, just in case.
Lucky enough to meet him once and he bought me a Lone Star beer. It was surreal. He was very nice .
R.I.P. to The great Doug Sahm.

Tom Heyman said...

My old band Go To Blazes opened for SDQ at a ?pirate themed? bar/c;ub called The Barbary in Philly around 199?. The band was as you mentioned with Mike Buck, Speedy Sparks, Augie, Rocky Morales and instead of John Reed, the excellent Louie Ortega on guitar. What a great night of music. Music aside, the other thing I remember most about the night was that Doug had a hot pink rat tail comb in the back pocket of his designer jeans, and he would pull it out and absentmindedly comb his throughout the night. At the time this gesture struck me as both exotically cool and authentically flamboyant.

Tom Heyman

The Hound said...

"That's MIKE Buck on drums"

My typo, sorry Mike. I fixed it.

" A friend quit reading Jan Reid's biography on Doug after counting 70mistakes. Thanks for the post."

Yeah, it's got a lot of bonehead errors, like Gene Thomas being reffered to as Thomasan (which I think is his real name, but all his records were made as Gene Thomas), but there's enough interesting inside stuff in there to make you want to keep reading.

Anonymous said...

As you probably know Hound, Doug had a small roll in a movie called Cisco Pike starring Kris Kristofferson, Gene Hackman, Harry Dean Stanton and host of others. Your readers should definately try tracking this flick down .It's wild and wooly! Doug and his band are captured in the studio and in between takes he's doing some dope dealing. I think it was made around 1971/72. I still have an old vhs copy from cable TV years ago.

Andy, Stockport said...

Both clips just superb - so free and easy and happy. I first heard of SDQ from Wilko Johnson's cover of "She's About A Mover". It was shortly before Doug Sahm died,
so I never got to see him. A real rock great.

The Hound said...

"Doug had a small roll in a movie called Cisco Pike"

My wife's all time favorite movie, also w/Karen Black
and Viva of Warhol fame, written by Robert Towne who wasn't credited on the actual screen credit.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit long-winded, but it is one my favorite music memories.

I saw Doug Sahm only once, in 1981. I was doing my second year at university. Early that year a friend of mine really wanted to come down to Gothenburg to see his hero, Bruce Springsteen. He couldn't get tickets in Stockholm so he asked if he could come down to Gothenburg. Sure thing and damned fine gig, too. He was ecstatic and swore it was the best gig anywhere ever.

Some months later it was his turn to get tickets for me in Stockholm. Doug Sahm was playing Sweden for the first time. Now, I loved that gig, but here's the point. My friend had never heard, or even heard about, Doug Sahm, and he was totally bowled over. He didn't say anything for an hour afterwards, and the first thing he said was "Damn. That was even better."

/R

The Chief said...

Re: Andy Berger's comment "and a guy i think named Mike Campell, great guitarist and fiddle player. There's a great pic of Doug from one of the gigs here." That was Larry Campbell--he went on to play with Dylan for years and is now with Levon Helm and on and on.

Another great post Hound! Doug was one hippie I can salute. Great music at every stage of his long and eventful career. I still regret that I missed him play with the TX Tornados at Jimmy's in NOLA b/c I had to work. That job is long gone and I'll never forgive myself for letting that opportunity slip by. Sigh.

J.D. King said...

I wish your friend had tossed a brick instead of a peanut.

The Hound said...

"Doug had a small roll in a movie called Cisco Pike"

He also shows up in More American Graffiti (1979) as a bus driver. And a documentary called Immaculate Funk which I've never seen, then there was Austin City Limits, one of which he played on and another was a posthumous tribute to him.
The Sir Douglas Quintet were on Shindig, Ready Steady Go, and various other 60's TV shows when She's About A Mover was a hit. His tunes show up in tons of movies including if I remember correctly Jesus Son, The Doors, High Fidelity, and An Officer and A Gentleman. Hard to believe no one thought to make a documentary about Doug when he was still alive. Some one should make one about Huey Meaux right now before he croaks....

Ken K. said...

And of course there's the great quote from Huey Meaux (whether it's actually true or not, it makes for a great quote). When confronted with the lack of success of his records due to the British Invasion, he holed himself in a motel room for 3 days figuring out the secret to the British Music. Whereupon he contacted Doug Sahm and told him to "grow some fuc*in' hair and let's cut some of this shit"

The result is what you see on the Trini Lopez clip (minor correction by the way, it's from Hullaballo, not Shindig).

Love your blog. --Ken

The Hound said...

"When confronted with the lack of success of his records due to the British Invasion, he holed himself in a motel room for 3 days figuring out the secret to the British Music."

I always wondered about that, something tells me Doug would have sounded like that with or without Meaux's influence, but Huey sure knew how to break a single, and without his help Doug might've never gotten out of Saint Antonio, there was plenty of great talent that never made it out of Texas.

Jumpy said...

The man breathed music! I like how on a visit to NYC, they took their instruments on the subway to get to the Atlanic Records studio.
PJL

Gene Casey said...

The "secret" that Huey Meaux hit upon was the 2-step beat featured on The Quintet's "She's about a Mover" which he heard on the Fabs "Can't Buy My Love," "Another Girl" and "She's a Woman." Hell Doug sounded like that in the 50s! While we're at it has there been a retro-trend in the past 30 years that Doug Sahm hadn't already explored at some length? Blues revival? Psychedelia? Alt-country? Tex-Mex pop and conjunto music? Vox/Farfisa New Wave? Garage/frat-band rock? Doug was well ahead of the game and had already moved on to some other joy. Thanks for the posting, Hound.

Anonymous said...

Twilightzone just posted his early Harlem recordings here:

http://twilightzone-rideyourpony.blogspot.com/2010/04/doug-sahm-san-antonio-rock-harlem.html

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