The Sir Douglas Quintet may have began life as an admirably nervy attempt by Doug Sahm and producer Huey P. Meaux to crash the Top 40 with a band of Texas rock & rollers during the height of the British Invasion, but Sahm's wide-ranging musical tastes would move in a single direction for only so long. With time, the enthusiastic Tex-Mex garage rock of the early Sir Doug sides took on strong blues, country, and norteño influences as their career wore on into the mid-'70s, when Sahm retired the band's moniker. In 1981, with dozens of new wave bands copping the Farfisa organ sound that anchored the Sir Doug hits of the '60s (and Joe "King" Carrasco making a career out of playing a revved-up variation of Sahm's old style), Sahm pulled the Sir Douglas Quintet out of mothballs, and while he approached the old garage stuff with admirable enthusiasm, he wasn't about to set aside any of the other things he picked up along the way, as this set proves. Live from Austin, Texas was recorded during a taping of the PBS television series Austin City Limits, and while the crowd on hand obviously dug hearing Sir Douglas Quintet hits like "She's About a Mover," "Mendocino," and "The Rains Came," they seem just as jazzed by lesser-known sides like the bluesy "At the Crossroads" (in which Sahm sings his immortal line "You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul"), accordion-fueled border music ("Ya No Llores/Chicano"), country two-steppers ("(Is Anybody Goin' To) San Antone"), and anything else the band has up their sleeve. And it's no wonder the crowd was eating this up -- the quintet is in fine form here, with Sahm's vocals and guitar work sounding spot-on; Augie Meyers nailing his classic, stuttering keyboard style, and also showing impressive chops on the squeeze box; Alvin Crow lending superb support on guitar and fiddle; and the rhythm section giving this music the loose-but-solid feel it needs. Sahm was a guy seemingly incapable of letting down his audience, and Live from Austin, Texas is a rip-roaring document of the man delivering the goods in one of his many guises; this is Lone Star party music at its best.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming