Jan Reid with Shawn Sahm Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm

Thursday, 4 November 2010 

The late teen cognoscenti of Townsville tended to steer well clear of musical content associated with teenyboppers back in the day (not that we applied the same principles to the teenyboppers themselves, you understand), which might have made us wary of the Sir Douglas Quintet's Mendocino in the summer of 1969.

Of course, the sentiments Sir Douglas was expressing were precisely what we had in mind ourselves, and in any case there was that irresistible Augie Meyers organ riff in there and a recollection of a reference to this Sir Douglas dude visiting Dylan in Woodstock somewhere between the motorcycle crash and The Basement Sessions.

In other words we knew the aforementioned Sir Douglas was somebody, but we weren't sure what sort of somebody he was.

That awareness got taken further when tracks from Doug Sahm & Band started to turn up on ABC Radio's Room To Move with Chris Winter on a Monday night, and I think it was the dollar discount bins at Woolworths that delivered the copy of Texas Tornado that remains a personal favourite to this day. (Memo to self: This needs a Rear View).

The Doug Sahm back story came out in dribs and drabs over the next couple of decades, but the recent publication of Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm by Jan Reid with Shawn Sahm (that's him on the cover, sitting on Dad's knee) is probably going to be as close as we're likely to get to the full story about a man who remains one of Hughesy's all-time long term musical favourites.

Actually, it makes for a reasonably fascinating read, given the fact that here's a bloke who managed to parlay a moderate degree of musical success (he never managed a substantial hit apart from Mendocino, the earlier She's About A Mover and his subsequent involvement with the Texas Tornados) into a career where he managed to exist without ever having to take a day job.

Mind you, with his son's involvement, it's hardly likely to be a warts and all narrative, but at the same time I get the distinct impression there weren't too many warts apart from a well-known affinity for herbal recreation and a taste for a constantly changing female retinue.

A minor figure as far as the big picture is concerned, sure, but a fascinating amalgam of musical influences bubbling through Texas from the fifties onwards. Well worth a read for anyone interested, and those unfamiliar with the man's oeuvre could do worse than starting with The Genuine Texas Groover: Complete Atlantic Recordings (42 tracks, $29.99 from iTunes).

© Ian Hughes 2012