Doug Sahm

Band members                             Related acts

-  Doug Sahm (RIP 1999) -- vocals, guitar


  backing musicians (1980)

- Jack Barber -- bass

- Louis Bustos -- sax

- Kelly Dunn -- keyboards

- Charles McBurney -- trumpet

- Rocky Morales -- trumpet

- John Oxendine -- drums, percussion

- John Reed - guitar


- Jack Barber -- bass

- Louis Bustos -- sax

- Kelly Duncan -- keyboards

- Charles McBurney -- trumpet

- Rocky Morales -- trumpet

- Johnny Oxenmdines -- drums

- John Reed -- guitar





- Little Dog Sahm

- The Pharoahs

- The Sir Douglas Quintet





Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Hell of a Spell

Company: San Antonio, Texas

Catalog: TAK 7075

Year: 1980

Country/State: San Antonio, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut top right corner

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5017

Price: $10.00



Most Americans were unaware of the fact the country lost a musical treasure when Doug Sahm passed away in 1999.


Sahm's appearance in the 1979 film "American Grafitti" served to briefly reinvigorate his career and found him signed by the small Takoma label.  1980's "Hell of a Spell" teamed him with producers Dan Healy and Jerry Meltzer.   The album liner notes tell you the story behind the album: 


"Takoma president Denny Brice said, "I want a Doug Sahm blues records."  So we packed the bus in Texas summer heat and we were off to the land of rock dreams, California.  We needed great sound - enter Dan Healy, Grateful Dead sound wizard.  California know how and Texas soul, that's what I was after.


This time out the focus was on Sham's blues roots, which may have left some of his rock fans slightly  disappointed.  The album carried a dedication to the late blues man Eddie James, aka Guitar Slim) and included two Guitar Slim covers ('The Things I Used To Do' and 'Nothin' But the Blues').  IBy my count, nine of the eleven tracks were blues numbers.  That made for a lot of blues, but  the collection actually  served to showcase Sahm's diversity.   Included across these blues grooves were a host of influences including Cajun, county, rockabilly, Texas-styled blues, Tex-Mex ,and even Western swing moves.  It was all here ...  Credited with penning the majority of the songs, Sahm seldom sounded as comfortable and happy; in fact the tight sound left the impression Sahm and company simply had a great time cutting these tunes in Santa Barbara.  So what were the highlights?   Well my choices would include the jazzy 'All the Way To Nothing', the rocking 'Hanging On By a Thread', and the bluesy ballad 'I'll Take Care of You', though to be honest, there really wasn't a dud on the track listing ...


"Hell of a Spell" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tunnel Vision   (Doug Sahm) - 2:29   rating: **** stars

'Tunnel Vision' found Sahm at his best - namely a full tilt boogie rocker !!!

2.) Ain't Into Lettin' You Do   (Doug Sahm) - 3:49    rating: ** stars

'Ain't Into Lettin' You Do' was a Texas blues number ...  professional, but nor particularly original, or engrossing.  Nice Louis Bustos sax solo ...

3.) All the Way To Nothing   (Doug Sahm) - 3:16

4.) Hanging On By a Thread   (Doug Sahm) - 2:37   rating: **** stars

Probably the album's most Sir Douglas Quintet-like performance ...   Kicked along by Kelly Duncan's keyboards 'Hanging On By a Thread' offered up a nice blend of commercial and blues influences.  Damn, the man could rock out.

5.) I'll Take Care of You - 4:19   rating: **** stars

Funny, I can remember initially thinking 'I'll Take Care of You' was just this side of cocktail jazz.  Here I am some forty years later and it strikes me as one of Sahm's most impressive performances.

(side 2)
1.) The Things I Used To Do - 5:17
   rating: *** stars

No self respecting Texas blues man would dare go without doing a Guitar Slim cover.  Here's Sahm's tribute.  Nice, if perhaps a bit restrained.  

2.) I Don't Mind At All   (Doug Sahm) - 1:58

3.) Nothin' But the Blues - 2:15   rating: *** stars

'Nothing But the Blues offered up another Guitar Slim cover.  Loved John Reed's Albert Collins-styled lead guitar.  

4.) Hell of a Spell   (Doug Sahm) - 3:30   rating: *** stars

Okay, nothing wrong with singers dipping their toes into reggae, but why would a guy as talented as Sahm do it?  Pleasant and probably sounded even better live with a couple of cold beers in you ...  but what was the point here?

5.) Can't Fake It   (Doug Sahm) - 4:16   rating: *** stars

The backing vocals on this blues number always make me smile.  The band just sound like they're having a blast.

6.) Next Time You See Me - 3:23   rating: *** stars

Nice Little Junior Parker cover.   I'm pretty sure The Sir Douglas Quintet had done an earlier cover of this one.  Will have to look it up someday.