Doug Sahm first used the name "Texas Tornado" in 1973, writing a song and naming an album after it. He first used it for a band in 1976, crediting Texas Rock for Country Rollers to Sir Doug & the Texas Tornados but the Texas Tornados didn't really become a group until 1990, when Sahm formed the Tex-Mex all-stars with his idol Freddy Fender, his right-hand man Augie Meyers, and Flaco Jiménez. Their first album -- released in two versions, one in English and one in Spanish -- caused a roots rock sensation upon its release, winning a Grammy for Best Mexican American/Tejano Performance for its track "Soy de San Luis" and helping to establish the band as a brand. Three albums followed quickly over the next six years -- the last, 4 Aces, appeared after a rush-released 1994 compilation The Best of Texas Tornados -- then the band faded away, turning into a touring concern and then an everlasting tribute to Sahm and Fender once those two giants passed away. Real Gone's A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada is the first real reckoning of the band's work, collecting highlights from those four albums (five, if you count the Spanish version of the debut separately) and adding some stray songs and unreleased recordings. The producers smartly balance all four Tornados, never favoring Sahm or Fender over Augie or Flaco, and the result not only highlights the band's range -- they slide from rock & roll and tejano to blues and honky tonk with ease -- but also how they make all these sounds seem unified. While each of their records is fun -- the first may be the best -- A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada eclipses all four by making those connections apparent but also underscoring how this sound, which was so innovative in the '60s and '70s, had turned into a deep, lasting tradition by the '90s.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2