Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh Mama: I Wanna Be Your Mama Again

[photo by blakemayday984]

Sir Douglas Quintet - I Wanna Be Your Mama Again (Mendocino version) [purchase]

A few weeks ago at Groover's Paradise, I talked up Los Lobos' cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet track, "It Didn't Even Bring Me Down." It's one of several excellent cuts on the new Doug Sahm tribute disc [get you some]. I said then that the SDQ original was a bit of an orphan on Mendocino because it was the only song to have the jazzy flavor heard on Honkey Blues.

I'd like to semi-retract that statement. "I Wanna Be Your Mama Again," like many of the tracks on Mendocino, is basically a country song. However, the piano is curiously set to 'Erroll Garner'. Everything I've ever read indicates Augie Meyers was on the keys, but it wouldn't totally shock me if it was Wayne Talbert, Doug's piano man on Honkey Blues. Whatever the case, the florid, moody piano runs add a great texture and depth to the song. The Leslie-fied guitar is probably unnecessary and the freaky echo and other effects are a little dated, but this is still a standout tune. I especially love when Doug shouts out the chord change: "B7!"

Incidentally, "Mama" was a bridge between the two albums. It was the B-side to the "Mendocino" single, released a few months after Honkey Blues and a few months ahead of the titular album.

Sir Douglas Quintet - I Wanna Be Your Mama Again (Live)
Philadelphia (PA) Folk Festival [view program]
August 22, 1969

Good performance of "Mama," a little restrained, but included because of Doug's great intro. Wish the quality was a tad better, but hey, you can't beat the price. And it's not like the world's overrun with live Doug Sahm recordings.

Tangentially speaking, look at the date of this show. How would you like to have booked a music festival a week after Woodstock?!?! Ouch. I realize folk festivals and rock festivals have different fanbases, but it's not like there hasn't always been crossover. Hell, what was the SDQ doing there if it was pure folkie? Actually, why was the SDQ there and not Woodstock? I could just hear the pitch from the band's management. "Woodstock? More like Schmuckstock. All hype. The Philly Folk Festival's gonna be HUGE! We're gonna be talking about it 40 years from now." Well, I guess that last part is technically true ... heh.

Damnations - I Wanna Be Your Mama Again
Cactus Cafe, Austin, TX
July 27, 2002

The Damnations cover this on Where It Lands, but I think this live version is better. And while Doug's gender-bendery is amusing, I'd much rather hear Amy and Deborah say they wanna be my mama again. No offense, Doug.

Taken from the same Cactus Club show where they performed "What Does The Deep Sea Say?" [view that Star Maker post], the vocal harmonies of Deborah Kelly (lead vocal; acoustic guitar) and Amy Boone (bass; backup vocal) makes this performance special. I'm almost positive that's Conrad Choucron on drums, which reminds me that I don't see him play nearly enough. Anyone who can get in the pocket for the Damnations and sit in with Mandible is, by definition, a badass.

If I have one complaint it's that I wish the whole band was a little higher in the mix, especially Rob Bernard's magic Tele. Of course, that's my answer for pretty much everything.

"LD, what did you think of Wilco's last album?"
"Not enough Rob Bernard."

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