If there's an artist who deserves a tribute album, it's Doug Sahm, the tireless Texas groover whose Lone Star state of mind encompassed roots rock, blues, country, garage rock, norteño, psychedelia, and a countless number of spots in between over the course of a career that spanned five decades. One might have figured some bunch of Austin all-stars would have been the most likely candidates to honor Sahm on disc after his untimely passing in the fall of 1999, but the responsibility has instead fallen to those proud sons of Festus, MO, the Bottle Rockets, who take a lively stab at 13 of Sahm's compositions on their first album for Bloodshot, Songs of Sahm. The Bottle Rockets have long proven themselves a superb straight-ahead rock & roll band with a deep feeling for rough-and-tumble roadhouse country, but while those are both paths Sahm traveled, that was hardly the sum total of his accomplishment, and while there's never a moment on Songs of Sahm where you doubt that the BoRox love these songs with all their heart and soul, on a few cuts they sound as if they're playing a bit out of their league -- the easy shuffle of "Be Real" doesn't quite suit a band whose forte is stomp, the bluesy lament of "At the Crossroads" is a few notches too slow for comfort, and "Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day" sure sounds goofy coming from a band with no outwardly hippielike tendencies. Also, producer Lou Whitney doesn't get this band's power on tape with the same élan as Eric "Roscoe" Ambel. But, for the most part, Sahm's tunes fit the Bottle Rockets better than you'd have any right to expect, and this album's best moments are superb, especially the hard rock groove of "Floatway," the manic rave-up on "I'm Not That Kat Anymore," and the deathless "Lawd, I'm Just a Country Boy in This Great Big Freaky City." One hopes that Brian Henneman has another batch of quality originals on deck for the Bottle Rockets' next album, but Songs of Sahm is not only a fitting tribute to one of alt-country's primal influences, it's a healthy dose of rockin' country and lots of fun.