There was no pastiche in anything Doug Sahm (1941-1999) put on record. Every note — his early country sides as Little Doug; his good-vibes garage rock and R&B in the Sixties and Seventies with the Sir Douglas Quintet; the prairie-dancehall ecstasy of the Texas Tornados — was packed with the roots, spices and determined playtime of Texas life. Lone Star music, at its best, in every form, was religion to Sahm. “You just can’t live in Texas/If you don’t have a lot of soul,” he sang in “At the Crossroads,” on the SDQ’s 1969 album Mendocino.
But Sahm loved to share the salvation, and Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard), has been conceived and executed in that spirit. The guest list is heavy on all-star natives who knew Sahm or grew up with a lot of Doug in their diet, including Delbert McClinton, Tornados accordionist Flaco Jiménez, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, Alejandro Escovedo and Joe “King” Carrasco, who tackles “Adios Mexico” armed with members of the Tornados. Of those crossing state lines for the party, Dave Alvin revs up the great “Dynamite Woman,” and singer Little Willie G. of Chicano rock legends Thee Midniters shows how Sahm’s 1965 Top 10 hit “She’s About a Mover” would have sounded if it had come out of East Los Angeles instead of central Texas.