Doug Sahm & The Sir Douglas Quintet - Hell Of A Spell/Nuevo Wave Live/Texas Hero

Wide-ranging rarities from the Texas Tornado.

Doug Sahm & The Sir Douglas Quintet Hell Of A Spell/Nuevo Wave Live/Texas Hero album cover

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The Sir Douglas Quintet’s English-sounding name hitched a fraudulent ride on the British Invasion boom with their 1965 hit, She’s About A Mover. But like their free-living leader Doug Sahm, they were a rich Texan stew, equally happy in honkytonks or heading west to Haight-Ashbury.

Hell Of A Spell, from 1980, makes no concession to the ugly new decade, instead luxuriating in Sahm’s country-laced R&B roots. Saxes honk like a Little Richard 45, the voice is a rollicking roar, and The Things That I Used To Do swaggers languidly over the state line to New Orleans. It’s dedicated to its writer Eddie Jones, aka Guitar Slim, whose “very heavy life of women and alcohol”, Sahm advises, resulted in music rare “today, in the modern disco”. The title track’s unlikely reggae lope and All The Way To Nothing’s lounge croon add to a rounded session.

Sahm’s organist soulmate Augie Meyers returns with the Quintet for 1983’s Nuevo Wave Live, rifling through influences from Texan Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy!, all raw, dirty excitement, to Dylan’s Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, its Midwestern writer’s Mexican nightmare here a less jaundiced Tex-Mex bar saga.

Best is Texas Hero, which uncovers singles by Sahm’s high school bands, apprenticeships served with country king Ernest Tubb and blues guitar great T-Bone Walker, and a Spanish-language Ain’t That A Shame. Starting in 1958, the thrill is Sahm’s snotty, surging, anarchic teenage voice, the sound of just-born rock’n’roll.

Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).