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The Bottle Rockets: Songs Of Sahm


The Bottle Rockets

Album: Songs Of Sahm
Label: Bloodshot

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One of many figures whose influence outstrips their fame, Doug Sahm fused Texas blues with rock 'n' roll while Stevie Ray Vaughan was still in short pants. Solo and with The Sir Douglas Quintet, Sahm also helped pioneer garage rock, country rock, and American white-boy blues. His biggest hit, "She's About A Mover," has been a bar-band staple since its release, so it's appropriate that bar-band extraordinaire The Bottle Rockets would make Songs Of Sahm, an album-length tribute to Sahm, who died in 1999. The memorably titled "Lawd, I'm Just A Country Boy In This Great Big Freaky City" could almost serve as Sahm's biography. Arriving from Texas in time to catch counterculture San Francisco in full swing, Sahm may have been confused by the contrast, but his music suggests that he found many common elements between Texans' legendary love of independence and the free-spirited times. Here, The Bottle Rockets finds similar common ground between its high-voltage alt-country and an important influence, and though Songs Of Sahm offers no major reinvention, Sahm could hardly have asked for a better valentine. On 13 Hillbilly Giants, Robbie Fulks dips even deeper into the well for an album covering tracks by underappreciated country artists. "Everybody knows about Haggard and Jones and all that, so I left those idols undisturbed," Fulks writes in the album's liner notes. Instead, he resurrects songs from a broad country spectrum, from the bluegrass of Jimmy Arnold's "Southern Comfort" to the risqué (and incestuous) cornpone humor of The Carlisles' "Knot Hole." As on his own albums, Fulks displays a love of extremes. The title of Jimmie Logsdon's "I Want To Be Mama'd"—with a chorus that goes, "I'm a big baby / A great big baby"—only hints at the explicitness of its sentiments. As always, Fulks never lets the potential for weirdness get in the way of emotional directness. Bill Anderson's "Cocktails" is as unsparing an account of alcoholism as they come, and Fulks' performance brings out the best of it. He never fails his material, and even if he did, the album would still work as a guide to the lost pockets of country's past. If 13 More Hillbilly Giants isn't already in the works, it should be.