Sell a Song

Sir Doug Sahm in mono

Sell a Song

Takes summer to finish spring cleaning in Austin. Do the math. Music biz is closed January/February, opens in March for South by Southwest, and by June, Austin’s Top 10 albums had already been released. Sir Douglas Quintet, The Mono Singles ’68-’72, from New York archivist indie Sundazed, has sat on my local releases shelf for months.

Compiled by Bill Levenson, The Mono Singles ’68-’72 had a familiar feel even in its shrinkwrap. For starters, the New York-based reissue king put together Hip-O Select’s 2005 grail, Doug Sahm & the Sir Douglas Quintet, The Complete Mercury Recordings.

Before that he managed to fit an entire box set arc and musical treasure chest onto a single disc of 1990 Mercury Records compilation, The Best of Doug Sahm & the Sir Douglas Quintet. Levenson also oversaw this spring’s Layla 40th anniversary reissue, commissioning local band survivor Bobby Whitlock to finish an aborted Derek & the Dominos track here in Austin at Pedernales Recording Studio last Labor Day.

In fact, the fifth disc of The Complete Mercury Recordings has been siphoned off here in its sequenced entirety as The Mono Singles. Gathering peak LPs including ‘69’s Mendocino and ‘72’s The Return of Doug Saldaña, the former collection runs five times what The Mono Singles costs, but they boil down the same: Essential Sahm.

From the raw Cantina R&B of opener “Are Inlaws Really Outlaws” and its horn-smeared original single flipside, “Sell a Song,” these 72:30 minutes of “SDQ’s Tex-Mex rock & roll spirit” (as the cover sticker proclaims) party down. There’s Augie Meyers’ Vox organ-driven “Mendocino,” and talk about your freak flags – “Lawd, I’m Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City.”

The dynamite “Dynamite Woman,” with its twin fiddles a year later, 1969, opens as a precursor to 1973 Atlantic Records indelible “(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone,” while the deep, deeper, deepest soul of “At the Crossroads” and beery Lone Star anthem “Texas Me” will both stand as long as there’s a Republic. Bilingual border rocker “Nuevo Laredo” counts the same on the other side of the Rio Grande. Contrary to its title, “I Don’t Want to Go Home” dances slow to one of the finest examples of home-is-where-the-heart-is.

Endearing sincerity “Me and My Destiny,” Freddy Fender tattoo “Wasted Days, Wasted Nights”: My Mono Singles ’68-’72 shucked its cellophane skin 72:30 minutes ago and now “I Don’t Want to Go Home.”

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More Sir Douglas Quintet
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Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm, and Sir Douglas Quintet & Beyond
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Margaret Moser, Feb. 18, 2011

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Willie Nelson / Kris Kristofferson / Sir Douglas Quintet
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Jim Caligiuri, June 23, 2006

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Sir Douglas Quintet, Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Bill Levenson, Layla, Bobby Whitlock

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