ReviewsTwangin'!

Terry Allen and The Panhandle Mystery Band

Smokin' the Dummy / Bloodlines
Sugar Hill SHCD-1057

The Heart Of California (For Lowell George) / Whatever Happened To Jesus (And Maybellene)? / Helena Montana / Texas Tears / Feelin Easy / The Night Cafe / Roll Truck Roll / Red Bird / The Lubbock Tornado (I Don't Know) / Bloodlines / Gimme A Ride To Heaven, Boy! / Cantina Carlotta / Ourland / Oh Hally Lou / Oh What A Dangerous Life / Manhattan Bluebird / There Oughtta Be A Law Against Sunny Southern California / Bloodlines (II)

This is a compilation of two LPs that came out during the early 1980's on the now defunct Fate label. Even in his natal state of Texas, Terry Allen hasn't exactly been a household word while he has been holding forth (and perhaps, fifth) as an elder statesman for the Lubbock Mafia and bein' employable as an art professor specializing in sculpture in such locales as Fresno, Califas and New Mexico. I would be plumb tickled if he took over the "sculpture-garden" at VeeCeeEwe. Could be that some a' them local sculptor-musicians would take to bein' a tad more countrified and rustical than imbued with the neo-aesthetic fervor of "Ort" and their peculiar predisposition to the wearing of black leather costume throughout the year as in Nuevajorque y LonGuylandia.

These tunes range from tributes to the fallen (the adrenaline-laced "The Heart of California" is a "moving" tribute to Lowell George), to "families and paramours", and to major irreverencies and folk blasphemies ("Whatever Happened to Jesus (& Maybelline)?... a wistful gospel number that musically drives into East St Louis and picks up Chuck Berry as a mojo navigator and "Gimme a Ride to Heaven, Boy!", wherein a lone driver with a six-pack of cowboy-cold cerveza on a desolate stretch of the two-lane stops to pick up a hippie-boy hitchiker who turns out to be Jesus Christ and pulls a pistol on the driver, highjacking his car and leaving the highjackee with these words,

The Lord moves in mysterious ways
and tonight, my son...he's gonna use your car!

Allen's western landscape is not that of a Frederick Remington nor of a John Ford. These wild and wooly badlands are populated with psycho truckers with ratchet-jaws and their randily spiritual lady-friends with a whole passel of gospel stations beaming in from other dimensions on the AM radidio dial flogging an official Brother Curtis Springer gen-yew-wine prayer cloth to tastefully drape over the superhetrodyne console in the parlor, recalling the days of the Border Blasters, like XERF, Del Rio, TX/Cd. AcuÒa, Coahuila, Mejico..... (CuÒa, to the initiates...), XEG (El RegiomontaÒo), Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

Lloyd Maines engineered and played pedal steel on these recordings; the rest of the Maines Brothers and a goodly contingent of the Lubbock Mafia (Joe Ely, Ponty Bone, etc.), appear as well. Can't recall anything he's ever done that could even be considered mediocre.

--Ted Samsel

Copyright 1997 Ted Samsel



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