Hit records are usually determined less by the music-buying public than by the whims of a few executives. It is they who decide what is to be recorded, released, backed with cash, and played on the radio. These executives purport to know what we want to hear and when we want to hear it, but sometimes they are mistaken. With rare exception it has always been so. One such exception was Tommy McLain’s “Sweet Dreams”......
There are so many country music hits coming out of Houston that it has become the Nashville of Texas that Austin always promised to be. While Willie Nelson, Asleep At The Wheel, and Jerry Jeff Walker, and Alvin Crow all may be excellent recognised stars, they can’t compete with the frequent visits paid to the top of the country charts by Freddy Fender, Roy Head, Mickey Gilley, Randy Cornor, and Johnny Lee, among others. What makes the Houston signature so delectable is its stripped down soul; most of these hits have welded a modern country arrangement on to an old South Louisiana swamp blues standard, often with the gritty saxophone solo breaks left in.
Tommy McLain and his Muletrain Band is the finest example of a band hooked on swamp blues, refried country style, that I’ve heard live. They haven’t reached the degree of popularity of a Freddy Fender yet, they are headed in that direction. They’re the real thing - a bayou bred group that works live dates all along the Gulf. Country with a little bit of soul, Tommy McLain and the Muletrain Band all tip their hats to their home state, the secret weapon of Texas’ Nashville. C’est bon.
Joe Nick Patoski