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Son Volt – Day of the Doug (RSD 2023)

April 29, 2023

I am a fan of both Son Volt and Doug Sahm. They both are the epitome of alternative country and cosmic American music. This album, per Son Volt’s website, is a tribute to Doug Sahm, who Son Volt’s leader Jay Farrar has had a friendship with dating back to Uncle Tupelo:

Son Volt’s Day of the Doug will be available exclusively at participating record stores starting 4/22/23 as part of Record Store Day. Find stores and more information at

A tribute to Doug Sahm, Day of the Doug features 12 songs that span Sahm’s career as a solo artist as well as his work with Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. The Intro and Outro tracks are phone messages that Doug left Jay [Son Volt founder Jay Farrar] over the years. Pressed on RSD-exclusive Opaque Green Vinyl.

On first listen I found it bizarre that this was a Record Store Day (RSD) release. It is a fantastic album that deserves a normal release, not a mere 1700-unit vinyl release. I went back to the RSD website and this is an “RSD First’ Release.” So I assume it will be released conventionally later and this is just a teaser/RSD collectible. Although Son Volt has not announced a release date for Day of the Doug, their summer 2023 tour is focused on covering their 1995 debut Trace and covering Doug Sahm songs.

Son Volt 2023 summer tour

So who was Doug Sahm? Per Wikipedia:

Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999) was an American musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born in San Antonio, Texas. Sahm is regarded as one of the main figures of Tex-Mex music, and as an important performer of Texan Music. He gained fame along with his band, the Sir Douglas Quintet, with a top-twenty hit in the United States and the United Kingdom with “She’s About a Mover” (1965). Sahm was influenced by the San Antonio music scene that included conjunto and blues, and later by the hippie scene of San Francisco. With his blend of music, he found success performing in Austin, Texas, as the hippie counterculture soared in the 1970s.

I stumbled across Sahm in the Bob Dylan galaxy. I bought a Sahm LP (1973’s Doug Sahm and Band because it had Dylan on it. But I really got into Sahm in the early 90s with his band The Texas Tornados. Around the same time I found a nice retrospective Sahm CD (Spotify link below).

I didn’t discover Uncle Tupelo until their last album and guess who it features? Doug Sahm on his tune “Give Back the Key to My Heart.” He sounded like he belonged in Uncle Tupelo. So it is appropriate that Son Volt is the band to record a tribute.

Son Volt does not cover the obvious songs in the Sahm catalog; they take a deeper dive. This is the best Son Volt has sounded in years. They are clearly inspired by the Sahm material. I am glad I jumped on this RSD edition to savor the material now. I highly recommend this album when it comes out later this year.


From → Music Reviews

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