Son Volt: Day Of The Doug (Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers) – Album Review
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I don’t usually pay close attention to collections where an artist or group covers an entire album of another artist’s music. I have in the past and I am usually disappointed. I have a certain expectation about the sound based on the work of the previous artist. Frankly, the tribute album very rarely lives up to the original recordings. Of course there are exceptions to all rules. “Dwight Sings Buck” from 2007 is the first one that comes to mind. That is a collection of Buck Owens tunes that were interpreted by Dwight. That is one of the few tribute albums where it matched the quality of the original recordings. The other one that comes to mind is “Songs Of Sahm” by The Bottle Rockets from 2001. That is another collection of Doug Sahm’s music. The third example is of course “Day Of The Doug“.
Son Volt’s latest release entitled, you guessed it, “Day Of The Doug” is an album fully devoted to the music of Doug Sahm. For those unfamiliar, Doug Sahm was a Texas musician who founded two extremely influential bands (among numerous other projects), The Sir Douglass Quintet and The Texas Tornados. Doug was a master at synthesis and successfully fused genres such as rock and roll, country, western swing, and tejano music to create a his own unique genre. His influence is incredibly deep and far reaching. He was the definition of a “musician’s musician”.
With that much of a build up, an album that tackles an artist like Doug Sahm better be good. And it is good, great, in fact. Jay Farrar, the founder and lead vocalist of Son Volt successfully took 12 of Doug Sahm’s songs that span the years and interpreted them perfectly. The integrity of the songs are completely in tact, yet Son Volt and mad scientist Jay Farrar, put their own signature on this collection. Son Volt had been dabbling pretty heavily into the world of traditional country music and some electric folk for the last 10 years. “Day Of The Doug” displays Son Volt’s rock and roll prowess , which is still going strong after almost 30 years. I can’t believe it’s been almost 30 years! I digress.
Son Volt has a tendency to keep the tempo of their songs a little bit on the slower side. That is not the case on “Day Of The Doug”. They keep the temp quite snappy and really make this release a rocker from the first track to the last. Songs like Juan Mendoza, Dynamite Woman, and Yesterday Got In The Way are great rock and roll songs and Son Volt did a great job of honoring the originals while still making them part of the “Volt” lexicon.
There is one song on this collection that really shines just a little brighter than the rest. It’s similar to the difference between a blue star and a violet star. The blue star is pretty hot, but the violet star is just a little hotter. The violet star award on this album goes to Float Away. It is a perfect rock/country/pop song. From the opening with it’s power pop guitar intro to the strong vocals, and pitch perfect harmonies, it wraps it all into a perfect package. This track is sung by bass player Andrew DuPlantis. This is pure musical perfection.
As previously stated, this is not your garden variety, run of the mill tribute album. No, it is pretty special and a collection this essential only comes around ever so often. I will definitely put this on heavy rotation for the near future and will be added to my go to playlist, toot sweet!
You can listen to “Day Of The Doug” here