2010-06-18

tornado warning – doug sahm & the texas mavericks live in bremen 1987-04-13

in 1987 the lolly pope and me=myself saw doug sahm and the texas mavericks play live in tübingen, a very pleasing evening at the old amerika-haus close to the blaue brücke organised by one hans kesteloo. unfortunately no recordings of this event seem to have survived, but in the deep black holes of my collection i found a tape of their gig in bremen only four days earlier. this tape is what you are going to be listening to right now and the lolly pope has a lot to say. please enjoy:


"Those were the days when Rock n' Roll – though already smelling suspiciously funny – was still alive, and there were reasons to leave the house every once in a while. As a hardcore Sir Douglas-fan since the German release of "She's About A Mover" in '65, I had to see the MAN when a gig at Tuebingen was announced '87 during his European promo tour for the Texas Mavericks album on New Rose. When I asked fellow-warrior-against-the-jive van daale to come along, he was a bit undecided, but soon as he heard of chances (well, that turned out to be just rumours) for some cameo appearances by Roky Erickson, he was more than convinced, and we hit the road to our old Alma Mater on smoking wheels. It was a night of pure magic, and definitely the only useful purpose one of these Amerikahauses spread across Germany - and usually rather a place to protest and throw molotov cocktails - ever had. Doug seemed to be a bit embarressed with that Roky hype, which was a promo-trick invented by his management, promoter, record company or who ever, but he explained, that he and Roky were old friends and companions since the days of the Vulcano Gas Co., and that he had a couple of Erickson's songs in his repertoire for decades anyway. I can't tell you the complete line-up, but I remember that Doug's son Shawn was on lead guitar, and Speedy Sparks was as prominently featured on guitar and vocals in The Mavericks as Sir Doug himself. Augie Meyers was sadly missing, but they had a small keyboard on a table, where they shared fake-Vox organ duties when necessary. Trouble with this incarnation of the Sir Douglas Quintet is, that they all worked under aliases on this record (subtitled „Who Are These Masked Men“), and bass and drums are stated as Miller V. Washington and Frosty respectively there. But then again, who the care fucks anyway... The only regret we had, was that we forgot to bring along some bootleggers' equipment to document this memorable evening.


Some 23 years later a tape of a gig in Bremen, recorded 4 days earlier, showed up in stunning sound quality. It time-warped us back to the days when the defuncted Pinkees couldn't yet imagine to reincarnate as Sturclub. Reduced to the duo format we were sitting in limbo, but somehow the idea of the Club of the Stubborn was in the air right from the start, and after struggling through all the madness, and losing some members half our age to the „real world“, we're still angry old men getting younger than yesterday. (Look out, here comes tomorrow...)


Back to the drawing board: Speedy Sparks, in and out with the Sir Douglas Quintet since 1980, obviously is a die-hard Buddy Holly admirer (like Roky) and covers no less than 3 of his classics here („That'll Be The Day“, „Not Fade Away“ and „Rave On“) with bravour and grandezza. He also does a fine rendition of Van Morrison's „Brown Eyed Girl“, and that's a very good idea after 20000 versions of „Gloria „ worldwide. I could have thought of less over-played Chuck Berry-classics than „Johnny B. Goode“, but it's a crowd pleaser anyway, and his mediocre self-written „Redneck Rock“ is the only number I could have done without. Speedy makes up for this with a tremendous run through Erickson's „Don't Slander Me“. I had to listen to legions of lousy versions of that song before and after, but this one, well, don't know... It somehow sounds right. But Sir Doug of course is the man in charge here, and he blows away all wannabe Tex-Mexers this and the other side of the Rio Grande lefthanded with „Texas Tornado“, something like his theme song, and speeds up with a killer interpretation of Roy Head's „ One More Time“, a song that may sound familiar to formerly young punks in the version of Joe „King“ Carrasco & The Crowns (remember Stiff Records?) „She's About A Mover“ nails me to the cross like it did in '65, and I still can't grasp how Lenny Kaye could miss out on this one, when he compiled the original „Nuggets“. A personal heartbreaker, tearjerker, you name it, is the Gene Thomas Medley („Sometimes“/“Cryin' Inside“), which was one of ten highlights on Doug's '76 album „Texas Rock For Country Rollers“. A wonderful melange of Western Swing and New Orleans R&B, and I remember well the hard times I had back then, when I outed myself as a fan of both in the wake of da Punk. The following „Key To My Heart“ from the same LP is a very personal, possibly autobiogrphical song, that still seemed to haunt him 12 years later, and... , fuck me, I need a new handkerchief.

Strange enough... I've first heard „Starry Eyes“, one of two handfuls of 70's songs that'll survive this and the next century, on Doug Sahm's rare LP „Live Love“ (1977, Texas Re-Cord Co.), a year before I noticed that it was a Roky Erickson song. The greatest number Buddy Holly couldn't record, anymore, but a post-mortal tribute in both versions anyhow. And then „Mendocino“!!! The smash that catapulted Sir Douglas high in the charts worldwide. And left him stranded as some kind of one hit wonder, teenage novelty attraction from times not true anymore. Tortured and mutilated in „Original home language versions“ from Cambodia to Michael Holm. Nurse, my brain hurts!!! (Just listen to the words, teenyboppers! But then again: it's too late anyway.) Who'd have thought that Roky Erickson would survive Doug Sahm (or even the 80s)? But that's the way the cookie crumbles, and it's a pleasure to see Roky singing and walking with kindergarden kids instead of zombies these days. Doug's worst ever LP was „Border Wave“ (never trust any kind of wave) in '81. Recorded for Takoma, but released in Europe on the then still major label Chrysalis, it was aimed at a mass market, and sounded like Sir Douglas trying to out-teenybop Michael Holm at his own game, which was old hat and around the corner by that time for years anyway. (Though there's a hell of a version of The Kinks' „Who'll Be The Next In Line“ on it, to give truth some honour). And you'll find the most ridiculous execution of The Elevators' „You're Gonna Miss Me „ ever on this strange platter. BUT: here it is the way God, Roky and Doug planned it. A real revelation. And it's true: I'm missing Doug Sahm, the first and last real KrautROCKER (yep, his parents immigrated from Bavaria).

The band encores with Ritchie Valens' „La Bamba“, the first million seller in Chicano Rock. An old, worn-out warhorse, you might think, but a heartfelt tribute to a 17-year old Latino, who had 4 Top 20 hits in 8 months, before he fell from the sky with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Not really the day the music died, but a bit like the beginning of the end...."

01: That'll Be The Day
02: Texas Tornado
03: One More Time
04: Not Fade Away
05: Brown Eyed Girl
06: She's About A Mover
07: Rave On
08: Gene Thomas Medley: Sometimes / Cryin' Inside
09: Give Back The Key To My Heart
10: Don't Slander Me
11: Starry Eyes
12: Redneck Rock
13: Mendocino
14: Johnny B. Goode
15: You're Gonna Miss Me
16: La Bamba

tornado warning – doug sahm & the texas mavericks live in bremen 1987-04-13
(mp3 / 320 kbps / 57 minutes / wrapped as one track / direct download)

(doug sahm / steven t. / question mark / kim fowley)

7 comments:

Timmy said...

WOW! Thanx so much for this groovy posting. I have seen Doug & The Tornadoes a few times & always enjoyed them. Doug was one hell of a R&R musicologist & troubador of Spirit. I hadn't known about his relationship with Roky.

amucomm said...

I saw these shows in Switzerland; Zurich, Bern and Einsiedeln (on a Sunday afternoon). the guitarist was not Speedy Sparks (he played bass), but Alvin Crow from "Alvin Crow & The Pleasant Valley Boys", where he normally fiddles. Doug played ac gui and organ. Not sure who played drums, but I think it was Mike Buck, I knew it was a different drummer on the album "Who Were These Masked Men", could have been George Rains.
Thanks for posting this, I lost my copies of the three shows I saw in Switzerland that year. What a great find on the anniversary of Doug Sahm's death.

Anonymous said...

thanx alot for this infos. you're right. Alvin Crow also played on the "Border Wave"-LP. And I vaguely remember now that Doug said something like that it's a pity that Augie wasn't available for the tour, but he'd try to execute a bit of what Meyers had taught him on the keys. the lolly pope

Multielvi said...

Many thanks for this. Doug has been one of my favorites since I saw SDQ on Hullabaloo in the 60's. By the way the drummer on the album was Barry "Frosty" Smith, who was the drummer for Sweathog, Lee Michaels and others.

Anonymous said...

I brought Doug's Texas Mavericks to Europe for that tour, so allow me to confirm the full line-up: Doug Sahm, Alvin Crow (g, org), Speedy Sparks (b), John "X" Reed (g), Mike Buck (dr)

Anonymous said...

Hans, is that you, old mate? I remember you had a hand in the tuebingen concert on that tour.
(you know my name, look up the number)Werner

hanwaker said...

i have a tape of the tübingen show done by an old mate of hans named reinhardt... rimpo records connection