Doug Sahm

Inlaws and Outlaws

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Where better to hear one of the proudest sons of the Lone Star State than in Philadelphia? In 1973, when Doug Sahm was touring in support of his all-star Doug Sahm and Band album, he rolled into the Bijou Cafe in the City of Brotherly Love to play a show with a handful of musicians who included Sir Douglas Quintet veterans Augie Meyers on keyboards and George Rains on drums, and legendary Ray Charles sideman David "Fathead" Newman on sax. The show was recorded for broadcast on WMMR-FM, and 40 years after the fact Sahm's set has been given commercial release under the title Inlaws and Outlaws. Sahm was all but incapable of singing without sounding soulful, whether he was tackling Tex-Mex, rock & roll, blues, country, or something that included any or all of those flavors, and Sir Doug is in fine voice, sounding loose but committed throughout this hourlong set. However, Sahm wasn't having a very good day as a fiddler the night these tapes were rolling, with his instrument sounding gratingly out of tune, and as great as these players are, they occasionally sound as if they're making up arrangements on the fly as Sahm calls the tunes. (And whoever the J.R. is who steps up to sing "Right or Wrong," he needed to practice.) Adding to the confusion is a mix that was presumably done live to two-track, with levels rising and falling unexpectedly and instruments either diving deep into the mix or suddenly bursting into audibility. But if you value Doug Sahm as one of the greatest of all Texas groovers, this set offers plenty that will make you smile, including four Sir Douglas Quintet classics, some killer blues and R&B ("Stormy Monday," "Talk to Me"), deep country ("Wolverton Mountain," "Jambalaya"), and yet another brilliant performance of "(Is Anybody Going To) San Antone," Sahm's secret theme song. Doug Sahm wasn't necessarily a virtuoso, but he knew how to make music feel good, and that's the best thing about Inlaws and Outlaws -- this show is a long way from perfect, but you know whoever was on hand had a great time, and that communicates to whoever listens to this recording.

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