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8 Jul 2017

Sir Douglas Quintet "Mendocino" 1969 Texas Psych Country Rock

Sir Douglas Quintet "Mendocino"  1969 Texas Psych Country Rock


Sir Douglas Quintet - “Mendocino” - 25 January 1969, Playboy After Dark 

Doug Sahm's Californian lineup of the Sir Douglas Quintet were only around for one album, after which the members drifted apart. Sahm persuaded original members Augie Meyers and Johnny Perez to move up to California from Texas, and they brought with them Harvey Kagan, an old bandmate of Meyers', to play bass. This gave the band the refreshed lineup of Doug Sahm (vocals/guitar/fiddle), Augie Meyers (organ/piano), Harvey Kagan (bass), Johnny Perez (drums) and Frank Morin (horns/percussion/keyboards). They released Mendocino in 1969, its title track becoming a top forty hit. The album blended their hot-pot of influences (R&B, country, cajun, jazz, etc) into a unique form of roots-rock with a strong Tex-Mex flavour. It also included a new version of their 1965 hit single "She's About A Mover". It is generally considered their greatest work..................

Chart success for the title song led to a hurried release for this band's second album, although perhaps the most famous song, "She's About a Mover, originated a few years prior with another version. Listeners will probably be more familiar with the version heard here, the one with the freaky feedback guitar solo and fake fadeout that oldies disc jockeys like to yabber over. This and "Mendocino" are only two of the many nearly perfect tracks on this record, some of which give off the illusion (perhaps an accurate one) that they were simply tossed off without a whole lot of preperation. "Texas Me" is genius on triple levels: there is the poetry of the lyrics, the soulful delivery from the singer, and finally the haunting recording fat with echoey, multitracked vocal and fiddle. When the listener reaches the end, "Baby It Just Don't Matter" it is as if one has strolled through an old neighborhood searching for a lost sound in the air, only to find a good, friendly rock band is jamming in a garage right down the block. The players are the classic Sir Douglas Quintet line-up including Augie Eugene Chadbourne......allmusic...........

Listening to Doug Sahm can be like unfolding a musical road map; taking a journey from Norteno Texas dust, through Gulf Coast big band R&B and honky tonk country, on to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury psychedelic heyday in 1967. 

Doug Sahm had an amazing gift for embodying, just plain being, his musical roots. A child prodigy steel guitar player, he had achieved regional hit-record status by the time he was a teenager, scoring a national hit with “She’s About a Mover” not much later.

Mendocino, with its title song a top 40 charting single in 1969, is the Sahm-led Sir Douglas Quintet’s finest hour, the exhilarating record of a musical heart, mind, and soul in perfect accord. Long out of print, this 1960s milepost is at last available on CD.

The title song is teeny-bopper pop set to a bouncy Tex-Mex beat and shot through with a dose of soul. After that sweet start, the album finds one great groove after another, from twangy fiddle-driven road epics that move along like a slightly stoned Ray Price shuffle, to distorted blues guitar freak-outs, to wide-open white soul laments. But it’s all rooted in a tight musicality that is as far from self-absorbed as pop music can possibly be. Harvey Kegan and Louie Perez, on bass and drums respectively, are a rock-solid rhythm section; Frank Morin’s horns are at least as sweet and soulful as anything Jack Schroer came up with for Van Morrison in the 70s; and Augie Meyer’s trademark roller rink-accordion organ sound is precise and brilliant, adding a sort of dusty uplift to the proceedings.

The real miracle here, though, is Sahm’s voice: a coarse growl, sweet and warm around the edges, it sounded perfect on blues, country, soul, or even Dylan-esque folk balladry. Sahm’s voice and delivery would have made him an icon even if he’d not been such a pioneer of crossroads and borderland American music.

Mendocino was an early peak in a legendary career. One of the album’s themes is its slightly self-mocking look at what it means to be a country boy in a big, strange, confusing world. But the real message lies in the feeling of pure joy in making music that runs through every track.

I bought my LP copy of Mendocino in 1972 for .99 cents from a cut-out bin at a Mammoth Mart in New Hampshire. The same day, for the same price, I scored a copy of another essential Texas document, Live at Cain’s Ballroom by Ernest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours. Both records got played a lot; they helped shape my listening –and playing – from that time on.

In some ways, Texas and the Southwest were America’s greatest musical frontier. In Stetson hat, buckskin, or tie-dye, Doug Sahm always did that frontier proud.
by Kevin Macneil Brown................

At a time when psychedelia was (thankfully) burning out, Doug Sahm tossed out this wonderful anachronism. Sahm and the Quintet were always distinguished by their genre-straddling countrified soulful swamp rock, but here the diversity is in full bloom. Influences abound, from Ray Charles on the rerecording of their 1966 hit single "She's About a Mover", to the beautiful Tex-Mex-styled ballad "If You Really Want Me To I'll Go", to hard hitting honky-tonk of "Texas Me", to horn-driven white soul on "And It Didn't Even Bring Me Down" to the completely anachronistic pre-Yardbirds garage rock of "Oh, Baby, It Just Don't Matter". This is an impressive album, as evidenced by the inspiration the beautiful ballad "At the Crossroads" provided to Ian Hunter for Mott the Hoople's debut album. As is often the case with a heavy dose of bonus-tracks, the quality varies, but the 2002 reissue gives you a fine cover version of the heartbreaking Tom T. Hall weeper, "The Homecoming".

It took me several years to fully appreciate the great musical diversity of my hometown, San Antonio. Growing up sneering at everything except New Wave and punk caused me to turn up my nose at the delicious interchange of musical ideas which were being played out quite literally under my nose. Country, Tex-Mex, soul, blues, rock and pop all combined into a magnificently variegated sonic mixture, and the racially and musically diverse Sir Douglas Quintet were the standard bearer. It's embarrassing it took me so long to figure out how great the music was in my own hometown, but at the same time satisfying that I now embrace it with such unconditional love....jlg4ever .............

You could never judge The Sir Douglas Quintet by their name. It was picked out by a manager that wanted to give the boys an English vibe, pretty common practice in those days considering the influence of The Beatles. Thing is, there’s no name that could ever define the eclectic hodge-podge sound the Sir Douglas Quintet consistently rocked for a good 5 or 6 years after 1969. Well, except maybe ‘Doug Sahm.’

Mendocino is not only a great introduction to SDQ and Doug Sahm’s music, but its own style of music all together. Texas music was a result of a great cross section of western musical styles, including tex-mex, cajun, polka, country, rhythm and blues, rock, and the San Fransisco sound. Doug Sahm was probably the first musician who was legitimately steeped in all of this and couldn’t control himself from playing it all at once.

As for the tunes on Mendocino, there are nary a miss, but not exactly a first-time winner. I mean this album will have to grow on you before you can really enjoy it. Once you get the hang of the sound you’ll be ready for the whole Little Doug discog. Crossroads is an easy one to get into fast, as is the SDQ’s biggest hit: She’s About A Mover, featuring the classic Vox Continental organ lead from Augie Meyers. Lawd, I’m Just A Country Boy is a great illustration of a Texan’s view of the late 60’s scene in SF (and a microcosm of the album in general). I’ve got a big soft spot for some of the more subtle numbers as well, like I Don’t Want and I Wanna Be Your Mama. The seven bonus tracks included on the CD reissue are all keepers too; check out Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day.

All in all, this is an exceptionally strong album, and one you won’t regret picking up, after you give yourself some time with it. A real good grower....Rising Storm review.................

SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET. Emerging from San Antonio’s “West Side Sound,” the Sir Douglas Quintet blended rhythm-and-blues, country, rock-and-roll, pop, and conjunto to create a unique musical concoction that gained international popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1964 to 1972 the band recorded five albums in California and Texas, and, although its founder Doug Sahm released two additional albums under the same group name in the 1980s and 1990s, the Quintet never enjoyed the same domestic success as it had during the late 1960s.
A big part of the Sir Douglas Quintet’s distinctive sound derived from the unique musical environment in which its members were raised in San Antonio. During the 1950s and 1960s, the “moderate racial climate” and ethnically diverse culture of San Antonio—caused in part by the several desegregated military bases and the large Mexican-American population there—allowed for an eclectic cross-pollination of musical styles that reached across racial and class lines. As a result, Sahm and his musical friends helped create what came to be known as the “West Side Sound,” a dynamic blending of blues, rock, pop, country, conjunto, polka, R&B, and other regional and ethnic musical styles into a truly unique musical amalgamation. San Antonio-based artists, such as Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm, Flaco Jiménez, and Sunny Ozuna, would help to propel this sound onto the international stage.
Born in 1941, Douglas Wayne Sahm grew up on the predominately-black east side of San Antonio. As a child, he became proficient on a number of musical instruments and even turned down a spot on the Grand Ole Opry (while still in junior high school) in order to finish his education. In 1953 Sahm met Augie Meyers, the son of a storeowner in nearby St. Hedwig. Meyers, like Sahm, was passionate about music and became an expert organ and guitar player. The two spent much of their free time attending concerts at the nearby Eastwood Country Club and other mixed-race venues, where they often listened to and jammed with country and rhythm-and-blues musicians.
During the mid-1960s, the so-called “British Invasion” brought a flood of English pop-rock groups, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, and the Dave Clark Five, to the United States, where they dominated radio airwaves and record sales. The British Invasion revolutionized American pop music, as hundreds of bands in Texas and elsewhere sought to imitate the new “mod” beat of these wildly successful English groups. In 1964 Sahm and Meyers were exposed directly to the impact of the British Invasion when their two bands, Meyers’s The Goldens and Sahm’s Markays opened for the Dave Clark Five.
Houston-based record producer Huey P. Meaux also wanted to capitalize on the new British sound. Reportedly, Meaux locked himself in a hotel room with a bottle of wine and “every Beatles record that he could find” to study the new mod style. He concluded that the music’s beat was similar to a Cajun two-step. Meaux soon contacted Sahm, who had been seeking a record deal from the producer for several years, and told him to grow his hair long, “form a group, and write a song with a Cajun two-step beat.” Meaux suggested that they call the band the Sir Douglas Quintet, in hopes that the English-sounding name would help sell records. The quintet—which featured Sahm on vocals, Meyers on organ, bassist Jack Barber, drummer Johnny Perez, and saxophonist Frank Morin—quickly scored a Top 20 hit in 1965 with “She’s About a Mover.” The so-called “British lads” appeared on such national broadcasts as Hullaballoo and Shindig! The group's second single, "The Rains Came," made the Top 40. They released their first album, The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet, in 1966.
After touring the United States and Europe, the band returned home to Texas in 1966. Upon arrival at the Corpus Christi airport, Sahm was arrested for possession of marijuana. Following the arrest, Sahm and Morin left the Lone Star State for San Francisco, the Mecca of the hippie counterculture movement. Once in San Francisco, Sahm and Morin reformed the Sir Douglas Quintet with several other local musicians and released Sir Douglas Quintet +2= Honkey Blues (1968) on Smash Records. Critics had commented that the record lacked the earlier signature organ sound, so Sahm convinced Augie Meyers, along with Johnny Perez, and bassist Harvey Kagan, to move to California. With most of the original Texas lineup back together, the Sir Douglas Quintet released Mendocino in 1969. This album proved very popular with rock, country, and Tex-Mex fans domestically and abroad, and it became the group’s biggest seller, in part because of its Top 40 title track.
Riding on the success of Mendocino, the Quintet released two more albums in 1970, Together after Five and 1+1+1=4. While contemporary music critics hailed Together, calling it “perhaps the best recorded version of the Augie Meyers ‘cheap organ’ sound,” they were left confused by the genre-crossing nature of 1+1+1=4. By 1971 the band members were beginning to drift apart, and a homesick Sahm went back to Texas to pursue new musical endeavors. One year after Sahm’s return to the Lone Star State, the Quintet disbanded. Mercury Records issued an album of unreleased tracks entitled Rough Edges in 1973, but this would be the last album from the Sir Douglas Quintet for almost a decade.
Reviving the Sir Douglas moniker, Sahm reunited with Meyers and Perez and brought in bassist Speedy Sparks and guitarist Alvin Crow to create Border Wave, released in 1981. Domestically the album was not as popular as earlier works, but it did significantly increase the band’s international following. With new member Louie Ortega, who took over as guitarist after Crow left, they toured and recorded in Europe during the early 1980s, but the Quintet disbanded by 1985. In 1994 Doug Sahm reformed the band with his sons Shawn and Shandon and released Day Dreaming at Midnight. Sahm died in 1999. Drummer Johnny Perez died in 2012.
In the span of its career, the Sir Douglas Quintet elevated the unique and eclectic regional style of San Antonio’s West Side Sound to international popularity. The Quintet also helped lay the groundwork for the phenomenal worldwide success of Sahm and Meyers’s subsequent Grammy-winning supergroup, the Texas Tornados. In the process, Sahm, Meyers, and their bandmates helped carry the distinctive musical influences found in Texas and the Southwest to audiences around the globe..................

Sir Douglas Quintet
*Doug Sahm – Vocals, Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Fiddle
*Frank Morin – Vocals, Horns
*Harvey Kagan – Bass Guitar
*Augie Meyers – Organ, Piano, Keyboards
*John Perez – Drums 

A1 Mendocino
A2 I Don't Want
A3 I Wanna Be Your Mamma Again
A4 At The Crossroads
A5 If You Really Want Me To I'll Go
Written-By – D. McClinton*
B1 And It Didn't Even Bring Me Down
Written By – M. Fierro
Written-By – D. Sahm*, F. Morin*
B2 Lawd, I'm Just A Country Boy In This Great Big Freaky City
B3 She's About A Mover
B4 Texas Me
Written-By – A. Meyer*, D. Sahm*, F. Morin*, J. Perez*
B5 Oh, Baby, It Just Don't Matter

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