The Sir Douglas Band

Texas Tornado

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Doug Sahm recorded much of his second Atlantic album, Texas Tornado, around the release of his first, Doug Sahm and Band, and even used outtakes from those sessions to fill out this 11-track record, so it would seem that the two records would be nearly identical. But, as they say, appearances can be deceiving, and the two albums have fairly distinct characters, at least within the frame of Sahm's music, where all his music is instantly identifiable. The biggest difference between the two records is that a good eight of the 11 songs are Doug Sahm originals -- an inversion of And Band, which relied on covers -- and most of those are produced by Sahm himself, not Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin, who helmed its predecessor, and he gives the record a feel that's considerably more streamlined than the cheerfully rambling And Band, while giving it a little grit by more or less concentrating on rock & roll. That the exceptions arrive early and are as disarming as the "Summer Wind"-styled, Sinatra-esque crooner "Someday" and lite bossa nova groover "Blue Horizon" -- two detours that make more sense in the broader context of the complete Atlantic recordings showcased on Rhino Handmade's double-disc set The Genuine Texas Groover but are bewildering here -- gives the record an off-kilter feel that may cause some listeners to underrate what is not just a typically excellent Sahm set, but one of his strongest selections of songs. Apart from the barnstorming opener, "San Francisco FM Blues," perhaps the best attempt at shoehorning Sahm's untamed Texan feel to AOR, these all come on the dynamite second side that houses the anthemic title track, as perfect an encapsulation of his Tex-Mex fusion as they come, the rampaging roadhouse rocker "Juan Mendoza," one of his best salutes to Latin culture in the 2-step "Chicano," an excellent Sir Douglas-styled groover in "Hard Way," and the gloriously breezy "Nitty Gritty," one of his very best songs (not to mention one of his best performances, highlighted by his call to right-hand man Augie Meyers before his organ solo). Unlike Doug Sahm and Band, Texas Tornado is billed to the Sir Doug Band, which is not quite the Sir Douglas Quintet, but with all of his usual gang in place -- not just Meyers but bassist Jack Barber, drummer George Rains, and saxophonist Rocky Morales, among others -- it essentially is no different than a Sir Douglas Quintet album, but really that's splitting hairs since the album is simply first-rate Doug Sahm. It may be recorded toward the end of his peak period -- after this, he turned out two other arguable classics before settling into a comfortably enjoyable groove that he rode out for the rest of his life -- but it still captures him at an undeniable peak and it's undeniably irresistible.

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