Sir Douglas Quintet - The Mono Singles '68-'72 2LP
Both sides of 11 singles the Sir Douglas Quintet issued between 1968 and 1972 (one of which, the 1970 45 "Be Real"/"I Don't Want to Go Home," was issued under the name Wayne Douglas) are gathered together on this compilation, in mono. The rather specialized format, as well as a selection process that omits any LP-only tracks from consideration, might prevent this from being a best-of survey of the band during this period. But it really does function as something close to it, and certainly as a representative slice of the remarkably wide stylistic territory Doug Sahm and the group covered. Blues, cajun, country, Texas border music, bubblegum, brassy soul, rock & roll, even bits of jazz and psychedelia, they're all present, in separate and combined forces, the unifying ingredient being Sahm's remarkable voice, one of the best in roots rock. He's at his peak here, even if just a few of the songs -- the infectiously bouncy hit "Mendocino," the ace melancholy ballad "At the Crossroads" (perhaps Sahm's finest moment as a songwriter), and the cover of Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days, Wasted Nights" might be familiar to the average listener. Sahm wrote most of the rest of the material, and his eclectic, quirky warmth rarely falters. An arch sense of humor pokes through on songs like "Lawd, I'm Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City," but Sahm was as seriously introspective as anyone on "I Don't Want to Go Home," another highlight (included in both the Sir Douglas Quintet and "Wayne Douglas" versions). There's a lot of fine and still-overlooked music here, and if it wasn't often the stuff of which hit singles are made, it's still a little surprising that the most accessible cuts (especially the tasty soul-pop 1969 single "It Didn't Even Bring Me Down") didn't reach more ears.