Friday, March 27, 2009

Keep Your Soul: A Tribute To Doug Sahm

Doug Sahm came on my my radar first through my Freddy Fender fixation and The Texas Tornados, a relationship reinforced by his appearing on the last Uncle Tupelo record and Wilco doing Take Back The Key To My Heart a lot live after Doug's untimely passing in '99. I still don't really want to hear another rendition of She's About A Mover, with all due respect to Sir Doug and Augie, but the rest of the Sahm canon is pretty untouchable, mixing Texas rock, Bay Area psychedelia and traditional Mexican music into a salsa well-loved by reefer aficionados since the 70s.

In 2002, the Bottle Rockets did an entire record of Sahm covers for Bloodshot Records called Songs Of Sahm. It's not the biggest-selling record in their catalog, but it did a lot towards exposing Sir Doug to a younger, non-Texan audience. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of Doug's passing and Vanguard Records has put together fourteen covers of Sahm material to commemorate his passing. Entitled Keep Your Soul: A Tribute To Doug Sahm, the fourteen tracks are a rarity in that they are both well-done and performed either by peers or by true torch-carriers of the Sahm cosmic music continuum. She's About A Mover opens the proceedings with 60's rocker Little Willie G's version of the oft-mangled Nuggets classic, then proceeds a bit deeper into the Sham canon with great covers by Greg Dulli and Dave Alvin. 

The rockers are great, but to ignore the Tejano influence on the Sahm music is to obfuscate a huge portion of his canon. Texas Tornado compadre Flaco Jimenez weighs in with a stellar Ta Bueno Compadre and Joe "King" Carrasco does the same with Adios Mexico. The Texas royalty appears in the form of Delbert McClinton and Charlie Sexton. Perhaps the best cover of all from that camp is Jimmie Vaughan, who kills his version of Why, Why, Why. The horns and staccato guitar are just right, as is Shawn Sahm closing the proceedings with Mendecino. It's a shame that Doug has passed, but with covers like the ones on, it's obvious that the Cosmic Cowboy and his energy will be influencing music for a long time to come. 

You can grab virtual or actual copies of Keep Your Soul: A Tribute To Doug Sahm from the good folk of Vanguard here

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