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Bottle Rockets

Songs of Sahm – 2002 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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At a merely superficial level, it's somewhat incongruous that the Bottle Rockets would be tapped for a tribute to the late Doug Sahm. Missouri and the Rockets' rowdy brand of beer-soaked Americana roots rock doesn't immediately line up with Texas and Sahm's groundbreaking psychedelic Tex-Mex country folk pop.

The one quality that easily connects them is an unshakeable passion for their respective musical endeavors, a boozy reverence for their influences and the ability to translate that passion and reverence into a tangible musical form. "Songs of Sahm" makes it glaringly obvious that there few bands in the business any better suited to Sahm's musical vision than the Bottle Rockets. The band doesn't just play Sahm's material; they inhabit it, they absorb it, they drink it down like good tequila and breathe fire and life into songs that already possessed ample amounts of both.

The Rockets dutifully include the hits in rambunctious form ("Mendocino," "She's About a Mover"), offer up plenty of authentic Texas soul where appropriate ("Stoned Faces Don't Lie," "Lawd, I'm Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City") and bookend the whole thing with blistering rave-ups ("Floatway," "I'm Not That Kat Anymore"). This is more than a worthy tribute; it's the ecstatic return of the Bottle Rockets with an album that may stand with the best this year ultimately offers.