Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Doug Sahm Month: Ramblers - Funky Side of Your Mind/Hello Amsterdam/Sir Doug's Recording Trip/One Too Many Mornings

Here's (sort of) three more from the Rough Cuts LP.  As requested, the tale of the Sir Douglas Quintet's trip to Amersterdam, and for historical purposes, "Sir Doug's Recording Trip".  But perhaps most interestingly, we're also bringing you "Funky Side of Your Mind".  Expect this post to ramble like a five minute mid-tempo Sir Douglas Quintet song.

As I've said in earlier posts this month, once Doug got to writing songs, some of his favorite topics were Lone Star Beer, Texas, and his own personal history, which sure did wig him out when he thought about what went down. No one could romanticize his own life in as charming, goofy, and wonderful way. "Sir Doug's Recording Trip" is his personal history, from being on record from the time he was five years old, to hooking up with the Quintet, to meeting Huey Meaux in Houston, to
having some chart success, to the moment of recording "Sir Doug's Recording Trip".

Sir Doug and Huey Meaux on a recording trip
taken from http://theragblog.blogspot.com*
"Hello Amsterdam" picks up the story where "SDRT" leaves off, with the Quintet really getting ready to go to Europe from their base in San Francisco. He sounds dissatisfied with the late 60s California scene and it sounds like maybe he's thinking about living on the "Urpean Cont'nent". He would of course settle for going back to Texas.

Is anybody going to Amsterdam, or maybe Barcelona?
Apparently the sessions that eventually made up the Rough Cuts album were, um, rather loose.  Many of the cuts fade up and fade down - arrangements created on the fly, minimal repeat takes, the usual crazy-artist-in-the-thralls-of-his-own-muse-at-the-expense-of-professionalism wondrousness.

One cut that features both a fade up AND a fade down is "Leaving Kansas City", a remarkably evocative (particularly for a lifelong Texas boy) ramble about getting out of the middle of America for stranger pastures. When I first discovered this song I had just "left Kansas City" (actually Columbia, MO) after 30 years, "bouncing around in space until I found my place". Sir Doug and I share a birthday, and considering his own love for zodiacal connectivity, I'm going to go a little hippie on y'all and admit that I've always wondered if it wasn't that shared birthdate, among other things, that connected me to his music so strongly.

You can hear Doug call out changes and instructions throughout the song as it lilts along over particularly strong and compassionate ("Crossroads" worthy!) DS vocal. But they obviously don't have an ending for it. I think that Augie Meyer must play the second guitar on this recording, since there's no piano or organ to be heard. On Rough Cuts the song fades after its little whistling coda, and that's that, a perfectly wonderful farewell-to-Mercury-records-last-song-on-the-album kind of a thing. But there's a full version of the take, or fuller, that is as far as I know only available on the Edsel She's About a Mover: The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet Crazy Cajun Recordings CD (I think there's a one-and-two CD version) that continues past the fade, and into an otherwise unreleased pounder called "Funky Side of Your Mind".

Sometimes CDs are good for something
As "Leaving Kansas City"'s chord changes go on and on and the band tries to find its way home, it sounds to me like drummer Johnny Perez has a sudden inspiration, as he switches from a country backbeat to a straight up pounding rock doubletime. He calls for the song "Funky Side of Your Mind", to which Doug responds, "Nah, man."  But Perez insists. "It'll work!" And into it they go, rocking out acoustic, and Doug fully commits, bringing his big "She's About a Mover" bellow out and transforming the wistfulness of "Leaving Kansas City" into a sudden rush of fiesty defiance, which to me sounds like the sort of thing he was looking for when he decided to "leave Kansas City" in the first place.

All-in-all a great lost look at the interband dynamics of the Quintet and one of the best SDQ recordings of the 70s.

And, what the heck, to wrap up and because I mentioned the whole shared birthday thing (and because it's kind of the same song anyway) here's one I never fail to play on November 6, wherever I am - from Together After Five, the "One Too Many Mornings/Got to Sing a Happy Song" medley. While it's always nice to think of all the time I've wasted (and it's not wasted) with Doug Sahm, it's the verse that starts at the 4:00 mark that always gets me.

One Too Many Mornings/Sing a Happy Song

One too many songs in this post?
*anyone interested in the multi-faceted and troubling story of Huey P. Meaux is directed to the Ragspot for a complete bio. 

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

finally a word on Amsterdam, here, thanks love. The LP shown is great too, I always loved Backwoods Girl the most, what a weird story...."she left the college crying they didnt understand her no more...'groove from "dam!! groover's paradise , back then not now.