Something I love to do that I don’t ever seem to know a good avenue for is to talk about whatever music I happen to be obsessing over at the moment. Seems I always have something that really knocks me out every month that ends up getting a whole lot of plays. I want to go tell the whole world about these records, but I never thought to say something about it on my blog, so here you go!
1. Doug Sahm and Band (1973)– Doug Sahm
This album has been blowing my mind for the past couple of weeks. Not just the album itself, but Doug Sahm himself has been really interesting to me. I mean, here’s a guy who played with Hank Williams Sr. (on his last show even!) before he was 12 years old. He looked rockabilly in the 50’s, and had an incredible garage band in the 60’s called the Sir Douglas Quintet (that the record company masqueraded as being British). Bob Dylan was a big fan, and so when Doug did his solo album ol’ Zimmy showed up and contributed some super fun vocals, and even a great tune called “Wallflower.” Dr. John and all sorts of other luminaries were present as well, creating what is undeniably a “smile when yah hear it” fun album that is so darn good that you can’t help but feel as good as it is. From the opening fiddles on “Is Anybody Going to San Antone?” you’ll be glued in. The album sounds like half of an insanely great country band’s album accidentally got sequenced with a killer blues band’s album. That just makes the whole thing that much more awesome. This album is a milestone in alt. country, roots rock, and Texas music. It was one of the earliest records to come out of the burgeoning Austin music scene, just a tad before Willie Nelson released Shotgun Willie. Later in his life, Doug went on to making tons more great music with I don’t even know how many bands. Look it up on Wikipedia, it’s ridiculous how many groups this dude played with. But the one I’m really enjoying now is the debut album of a supergroup he had called the Texas Tornadoes. That album is some great bouncy Tex-Mex music that has a song called “Hey Baby Que Paso.” If that ain’t enough to entice you I don’t even know.
Check out this tune, and you can find the album on Spotify!
Is Anybody Going to San Antone?
2. Song For Swingin’ Sellers (1959) – Peter Sellers
Despite whatever you might think from the title, this is not a swing music album by Peter Sellers. The swing song that kicks off the album isn’t even sung by Sellers! But what this album most definitely is is hilarious. Sellers was in top form here, from blasting news interviewers, critics, boring British radio programs, boring old gossipy British women, silly musicians, and so many things all in his distinctive use of dead-on accent impersonations and quiet disgust. The album has aged remarkably well, and Sellers is so charismatic. I ended up listening to this record after years of wanting to hear Seller’s LPs. The late great Sir George Martin produced the record, and it ended up greatly influencing Monty Python and The Beatles. Sellers even does a ridiculous cover of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” with sitars and other Indian instruments, six years before Sir George produced George Harrison playing sitar on Norwegian Wood. While you’re at it, find yourself a copy of Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ The Party. It’s a hilarious and experimental comedy film from 1968!
The album can be found on Spotify, or there is a sort of rough vinyl copy ripped onto Youtube.
3. Something New Under the Son (1977, released in 1981) – Larry Norman
I’ve grown up with Larry Norman’s music all around me. My parents have always been mega-fans of the rebel poet, my father even interviewed him in the 1990’s. We own a good amount of his insanely large catalog on CD. I’ve always loved what is normally considered to be his masterpiece from 1972, Only Visiting This Planet. That album’s lyrics feel implanted in my head now after so many years of listening. I love it to death and it influences me so much. For some reason I got this crazy notion in my head over time that Only Visiting was really the only “great” Norman record. Maybe the other ones were pretty good, but not great. Boy, was I wrong. Sooooooooo wrong!!! It was like how all these publications make out Pet Sounds and SMiLE to be the only great Beach Boys albums.
Somehow all the different publications have missed that Larry Norman has so many insanely great records. The first thing I heard recently was So Long Ago the Garden. I thought, holy crap, how have I missed this album? How many other albums am I missing? The answer? A heck of a lot.
The next thing that was put on was this one. Something New Under the Son. This album has become a life changer for me. I’ve always been a fan of some good hardcore blues music.
Turns out Larry cranked out a whole album of some killer blues music. I can’t even describe how cool this record is. John J. Thompson called it “one of the roughest, bluesiest, and best rock and roll albums of his career or the whole industry.” Couldn’t say it better myself. Imagine if The Rolling Stone’s Exile on Main St. got mixed with Dylan’s Bringing it All Back Home for one of the best bluesy stomper concept albums you’ve ever heard. And yes, it’s a concept album too. I won’t spoil the story for you.
Norman was so many things. A brilliant songwriter, a true visionary, a game changer, a true rock n’ roller, an outlaw, surrealistic, and a man of incredible faith. His music and story is so inspiring, and this rediscovery of his music has been an incredible blessing to me. So crank this album up and leave the past behind!
There’s nothing wrong with playing blues licks!!