The Return of Wayne Douglas -- the title comes from one of the aliases Doug Sahm used during country music gigs around Austin, TX -- turned out to be Sahm's final studio album. It was recorded just before his heart gave out in a Taos, NM, motel room on November 18, 1999, but released posthumously in late 2000 by Tornado Records, a division of Birdman Recordings. Sahm's band -- which includes fellow Texas Tornado organist Augie Meyers, Bill Kirchen (Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airman) on guitar, Tommy Detamore (Moe Bandy, Ronnie Milsap) on steel guitar, Bobby Flores (Ray Price's Cherokee Cowboys) on fiddle, and son Shawn Sahm on background vocals -- are the perfect support group, giving this "country as chicken-fried steak" material the stripped-down and soulful touch it requires. The album is almost an homage to the state of Texas. In addition to new songs like "I Can't Go Back to Austin" and "Cowboy Peyton Place" -- his paean to an Austin that existed 25 years earlier -- there are country-style arrangements of Sir Doug classics: "Dallas Alice" and the album's last track, "Texas Me," written in California during a bout of homesickness some 30 years earlier. "I wonder what happened to that man inside," Sahm moans in his gravel-hewn, throaty manner, "the real old Texas me." There are also two covers. Bob Dylan's "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" is sent up Sahm-style with great aplomb. Leon Payne's "They'll Never Take Her Love From Me" tells a little story about the time Sahm and his father paid a visit to Payne at the "Blind Balladeer"'s home in Bandera, TX. Sahm was reportedly surprised at how easily Payne seemed to be able to move around inside his house without stumbling over furniture. The liner notes by James "Big Boy" Medlin say it best: "Doug was a tornado. A true force of nature. I'll think of him every time I see a west Texas dust devil. Every time I drink a longneck. Every time I order a taco. Every time I see the skyline of Manhattan." Well, that's what they say.
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AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas