THE COMPLETE MERCURY RECORDINGS (Hip-O), from DOUG SAHM AND THE SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET, is a five-CD godsend that rescues many long-out-of-print albums and rarities from obscurity. Recorded just after Sahm’s initial Texas success, when he bolted for the more hospitable San Francisco, the six albums and one EP in this set represent only 1968 to 1971. Yet it was his most creative period. Sahm was famous for rolling Texas country, swing, border, and black music into one big tumbleweed; no one knew what to call it, much less how to market it. He overreached on these recordings—“uneven” doesn’t begin to describe them—but it’s remarkable how well they hold up as a whole. It’s not just the hits (“Nuevo Laredo,” “At the Crossroads”) but also the forgotten gems (“Don’t Want,” “Me and My Destiny”) and the way Sahm pours his soul into every performance.
From the April 2005 Issue Subscribe