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TEXAS TORNADOS Esta Bueno! Proper PRPCD060 (2010)

Texas Tornados

'Esta Bueno!' by The Texas Tornados sees the cross cultural Texas Tornados taking the same cross generation step as many of their heritage rock contemporaries by resurrecting the brand name via Doug Sahm's son Shawn.

And it proves to be more than a mere workable option as a lovingly compiled album finds room for several last recordings by both Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender all driven from the front and intuitively produced by Shawn Sahm.

From the opening father and son penned 'Who's to Blame' (which sounds like the song the Mavericks should have recorded) it seems as if Shawn has brought a breath of fresh air to the proceedings , adding a smoother feel while capturing the stylistic disparity that originally made the band so popular.

But when you consider the original band had taken their Spanish musical hybrid as far as it could go, you do wonder about this resurrected version of the Tornados.

Happily the Texas Tornados provide enough strong songs and great playing - especially from Flaco on accordion - to suggest there's still some fuel in the tank. Ultimately I guess the album will be judged not only by long time fans but also by the vagaries of regional radio and whether the live circuit can still sustain a ground breaking band such as this.

Whatever the outcome, the younger Sahm has done a great production job capturing the band's collective spirit and individual nuances, with Fender's 'If I Could Only' and the Tex Mex/Rock and Roll vibe of the Augie Myers penned 'My Sugar Blue' both impressing. The Tornados also cover the standard 'Tennessee Blues' which sees them at their best with glorious harmonies, intuitive accordion and ultimately as their PR states 'a triumph 'of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts'. This is especially so on 'Ahora Yo Voy', a keyboard led piece of Spanglish with vocals just the right side of passable!

Freddy takes centre stage on the humorous drinking song 'In Heaven There is No Beer' with Flaco adding some flighty accordion before Freddy slips into a Spanish ballad comprising acoustic guitar, keys and an insistent percussive pattern.

But the band save their best until last with a lovely meandering Grateful Dead meets The Band style 'Girl Going Nowhere'. Featuring Doug on expressive vocals, this superbly paced finale to the album and is both the best track on the album and is the perfect conduit between the band's histo-cultural legacy and the sense of a bright new future with Shaw Sahm at the helm.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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