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Sir Douglas Quintet - Rough Edges (LP)

Sir Douglas Quintet - Rough Edges (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title:  Rough Edges
Company: Mercury
Catalog: SRM-1-695
Year: 1973
Country/State: San Antonio, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6107
Price: $60.00

Technically 1973's "Rough Edges" was a posthumous affair - Mercury management cobbling it together after Doug Sahm had put an end to The Sir Douglas Quintet in favor of a solo career and a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Pulled from the Mercury vaults without any collaboration with Sahm, the bulk of the twelve tracks apparently dated back to the 1969-1970 timeframe, reflecting a mixture of non-album singles, obscure 'B' sides, shelved material, and other odds and ends. Musically the set captured an intriguing mix of blues ('Soulful Woman'), Cajun ('Colinda'), and the group's patented pop-rock numbers (including large dollops of Augie Meyer's instantly recognizable farfisa organ), So here's the big surprise; unlike most posthumous 'cobbled-together' collections, this album was great. It may not have been the most coherent album you've ever heard, but then legitimate Sir Douglas Quintet albums were also pretty hit-or-miss. Shame most contractual requirement sets couldn't match the caliber of this one. Elsewhere, John Swenson's extensive liner notes, band history, and song comments (sections cribbed below) were extremely interesting.

- Set to an instantly recognizable Sir Douglas beat, 'Sir Douglas's Recording Trip was an autobiographical history of Sahm and the band. According to the liner notes "... is Doug's autobiographical analysis of his musical career through the Quintet years set to the jangling peppermint candy vibrations of the band cooking away simply but tastefully. The combination of Augie Meyer's "96 Tears" organ syncopations with Francisco Morin's strikingly Dylanesque harmonica fills gives the tune a weird character that, as is usual with this group, fits the story line well ..." Simply hard to dislike this one. rating: **** stars
- Simply one of my favorite Sir Douglas Quintet performances, 'You're Doing It Too Hard' was a killer rocker. Complete with biting Sahm vocal and an even better lead guitar solo, it's hard to believe this one was never tagged as a single. If you didn't think these guys could really rock out, then check this one out. " ... as the title implies, a heavier than usual number for the Quintet, but they roar through it with monollithic convection until Doug explodes it at the end with a chord sequence that takes some force from The kinks and smacks with the metallic funk that only John Fogerty could match country rock style." rating: ***** stars
- Never having heard the Tom T. Hall original I can't really comment on Sahm's cover version of 'The Homecoming' other than to say Sahm and company turned in a cover that was fairly countrified. The 'life is tough on the road' lyric was actually interesting (would never have thought a country star would have such issues), and it was easy to say why Sahm decided to cover it. Still the track didn't do a great deal for me ... "Tom T. Hall's classic, is given a very credible rendition here by the Quintet. Paul Nelsom commended that Tom T. Hall loved this version when he heard it and asked for a copy for himself, which is as much of a testimony as anyone could hope." rating: ** stars
- 'Soulful Woman' was a conventional blues number. highlighted by some nice Sahm lead guitar. Personally, I thought Sahm's vocal was a bit rough; in a couple of spots he sounded out of breath, making me wonder whether he was going to get through the song. "... a classic blues ballad as only Doug Sahm can do one. His singing is solid and sincere, but he answers each vocal line with one of his most lyrical guitar lines you're ever likely to hear, and the guitar harmonies he adds onto the first line of each verse are pure beauty." rating: *** stars
- Returning to the patented Sir Douglas sound, 'Too Many Docile Minds' boasted an instantly likeable melody, fantastic Sahm vocal, and some of Augie Meyers' most commercial keyboards. Another one that had immense commercial potential had anyone been listening. " ... features a harmonica melody fill at the end of each line that is reminiscent of Dylan's "Absolutely Sweet Marie", and reinforces the already strong Dylan-Doug Sahm parallel ..."
- Another autobiographical number, 'Southside Girls' was a slow, country-tinged ballad. Not much into country, so this one didn't do much for me. "... a moving ballad about his home town San Antonio, delivered by Sahm with a sympathetic understanding of the society that spawned him." rating: ** stars
- Judging by the lyrics to 'Hello Amsterdam' ("Goodbye San Francisco, hello Amsterdam ..."), Sahm and company seem to have enjoyed their 1969 European jaunt. Nice rocker with some great barrelhouse piano. " ... done in rousing fashion The Quintet cam summon up when the shuffle rhythm starts chugging along back up by some honkey [sic] tonk blues piano playing." rating: **** stars
- With Sahm sounding like he'd been screaming at someone for a week, 'Spearfish By Night' was one of the standout performances. A nice mid-tempo rocker with some excellent drumming from George Rains, this one had a distinctive Creedence Clearwater Revival feel. Great tune. " ... another stomper, this time with a touch of surrealism ..." rating: **** stars
- Normally Cajun music doesn't do a great deal 'for me, but as exemplified by 'Colinda' this weird mix of Cajun and Tex-Mex was an exception. Great Sahm fiddle. " ... the album's straight country offering, giving Doug a chance to exhibit his raging style of fiddle playing just as no final word from this group could be heard without some concession to their country roots, their R&B influence also cannot be ignored." rating: *** stars
- 'Linda Lou' was a breezy and effortless R&B number with some dynamite Sahm lead guitar. "Thankfully then, "Linda Lou' is one of those Texas classics from Fort Worth" and the band is positively mean on this one with members of the Honkeys providing brass backup. But Sahm sounds totally different vocally on this cut than on the rest of the album, coming across with the biting slur of the early van Morrison R&B stuff." rating: *** stars
- Yeah, it was a blatant re-write of 'Mendocino', but I still love 'Dynamite Woman' as much as anything in their catalog. One of their most commercial and radio-ready composition. Sahm seldom sounded as good. "That pop sound is once again evident on "Dynamite Woman" another one of the group's tightly syncopated singles, but the addition o the country fiddle to the standard Quintet hit formula gives the song a precious touch." rating: **** stars
- A pretty acoustic ballad ,'Leaving Kansas City' brought out the best in Sahm's distinctive voice., though the sax solo could have been dropped without any loss. "The album finishes up with the light, ambling "Leaving Kansas City" ballad, featuring a nice acoustic guitar solo form Sough who signs off with 'we'll see you around next time / when the time is right t come into your life again / good night." rating: *** stars

All hyperbole aside, a great Sir Douglas Quintet LP. Surprisingly hard to locate (Mercury doesn't seem to have done much to promote it), but well worth looking for.

"Rough Edges" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Sir Douglas's Recording Trip (Doug Sahm) - 3:30
2.) You're Doing It Too Hard (Doug Sahm) - 3:51
3.) The Homecoming (Tom T. Hall) - 3:20
4.) Soulful Woman (Doug Sahm) - 2:21
5.) Too Many Docile Minds (Doug Sahm) - 2::28
6.) Southside Girls (Doug Sahm) - 2:21

(side 2)
1.) Hello Amsterdam (Doug Sahm) - 2:48
2.) Spearfish By Night (Doug Sahm) - 3:08
3.) Colinda (J. Williams) - 2:28
4.) Linda Lou (R. Sharp) - 3:33
5.) Dynamite Woman (Doug Sahm) - 3:41
6.) Leaving Kansas City (Doug Sahm) - 4:29
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