The Sir Douglas Quintet

The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet [Tribe]

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The Sir Douglas Quintet discography is confusing, not in the least because their first original album, in 1966, was entitled The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet. What's more, the LP was reissued in the '70s on the Crazy Cajun label; an identically titled album, on Takoma, had entirely different (and inferior) contents that did not draw from their mid-'60s Tribe sessions; and a nearly identically titled compilation, The Best of Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet (1991, Mercury), likewise offered entirely different contents than the original Tribe LP did, without any material from those Tribe sessions. So: is the original The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet still really the best? Yes. Even though it is a hodgepodge of mid-'60s singles, Doug Sahm originals, and covers, it does include their only two mid-'60s hits, "She's About a Mover" and the equally fine, but unjustly obscure, "The Rains Came." There's plenty else to sink your teeth into as well: a moody Animals-like cover of the ancient folk song "It Was in the Pines," the heartbreaking swamp-pop of "Beginning of the End," the peppy Cajun two-step rock of "Please Just Say So," and the Rolling Stones-like "It's a Man Down There." This does (especially for a putative "best-of") illustrate that for all their strengths, the Quintet's major weakness was a relatively shallow well of truly top-line material. "The Tracker," for instance, is a blatant rewrite of the "She's About a Mover" groove, and several other tracks (like a hectic cover of "Quarter to Three") don't have too much going for them but likable energy. In addition, some of their stronger mid-'60s Tribe tracks are not here, but on BeatRocket's companion volume of Tribe cuts, The Sir Douglas Quintet Is Back! Still, the group's blend of British Invasion, blues, country, soul, and Cajun music was unique in its time, and Doug Sahm was already proving himself to be one of the most versatile and soulful white rock singers. [Some reissues are enhanced by the addition of two B-sides, the greasy "Bacon Fat" and the rare moody 1964 cut "Blue Norther," as well as historical liner notes.]

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