Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band - Bloodlines
The first-ever vinyl reissue of Allen’s manifold, moving fourth album, remastered from the original analog tapes.
On his manifold fourth album, acclaimed songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen contemplates kinship the ways sex and violence stitch and sever the ties of family, faith, and society with skewering satire and affection alike. Bloodlines compiles thematically related but disparate recordings from miscellaneous sources both theatrical and historical: two songs written for plays; two full-band reprises of selections from Juarez; the irreverent hellfire-hitchhiker-on-highway ballad “Gimme a Ride to Heaven Boy” (featuring Joe Ely); and the poignant eponymous ode to the arteries of ancestry and landscape (the debut recording of eight year-old Natalie Maines, later covered by Lucinda Williams).
Since 1970, when they met in Allen’s studio in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas, one of songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen’s great foils and friends was the sometimes cantankerous but always brilliant art critic and writer Dave Hickey, with whom he sparred on topics musical, visual, and beyond (and to whom this reissue is dedicated in memoriam, in the wake of his passing in 2021.) Hickey, a fellow Texan paddling against the currents of the hermetic New York centric art world, was an accomplished songwriter in his own right, and
he and Terry pushed each other to refine their respective practices. In 1983, the two were thick as thieves brothers in blood and Hickey’s wry but big-hearted presence haunts the history and periphery of Bloodlines, the album Terry released in June of that year.
Hickey’s commercial doubts notwithstanding, critical recognition was not in short demand. In a 1984 review of Bloodlines, the L.A. Herald Examiner called Allen “one of the most compelling American songwriters working today … making the most unique art-pop of our time,” elsewhere comparing him not only to Moon Mullican and Jerry Lee Lewis, but also to the Velvet Underground and Philip Glass (probably the first time that unlikely quartet ever appeared together in one sentence). In 1983, against all odds, such sentiments were growing in underground prominence, as Allen’s records gained a fanatical word-of-mouth following they weren’t easy to find in those days.
Recorded piecemeal at Caldwell Studios in Lubbock, in sessions spanning August 1982 through January 1983, Terry self-released it, like all his previous records, on his own Fate Records imprint. Despite his frustration with the protracted timeline and some anxiety about the correspondingly higher budget, the production on Bloodlines courtesy, once again, of master guitarist Lloyd Maines is slicker, cleaner, and more dynamic than prior efforts, and it reached a broader audience than ever before. UK label Making Waves reissued it in 1985, facilitating semi-reliable European distribution for the first time as well as a 1986 UK tour, on which the great BJ Cole filled in for Lloyd on pedal steel.
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