I prefer to view Terry Allen’s 1975 debut, Juarez, as more a literary musical tour of the underbelly of border town existence as seen through the intersection of two couples, than, as it is often referred to, a concept album, which in Pop/Rock terms typically denotes varying levels of artistic pretense. In fact Juarez seems so refreshingly free of pretense, as to sucker you into it’s world, much like a particularly well storied drunk at a cheap bar might, and you don’t know if you’re gonna get rolled, arrested, or escape with a new found wisdom by the end of it. Funny thing is, the stories are so compelling that even aware of this you’re in it for the ride, consequences be damned.
It would be four years before Allen issued his 2LP follow, Lubbock (On Everything), and though neither record sold well, those that heard them (among those being Lucinda Williams, Little Feat, Sturgill Simpson, Don Everly, Doug Sahm, Guy Clark, Bobby Bare, Jason Isbell, and David Byrne, with whom he would collaborate on the soundtrack for True Stories ) became disciples, spreading the gospel of Allen’s unique vision. Thank the good folks at Paradise of Bachelors for putting these back in print, where they can only influence songwriting for the better. Also, these reissues look so nice, that even though I’m fortunate enough to own originals, I’ll be picking them up.
From Paradise of Bachelors website promo:
“As described in one of the periodic narrative “dialogue” interludes spoken by Allen, Juarez recounts a deceptively “simple story”: a bleak journey, told in nonlinear terms, from Southern California through Colorado and into the Texas-Mexico borderlands. Like many cross-country road trips, it’s as harrowing as it is humorous, often within the margins of a single song or even an isolated line. The action revolves around two couples and their fateful—or arbitrary—murderous meeting in Cortez, Colorado. Sailor, on leave from the Navy, meets Spanish Alice, a prostitute, in a Tijuana bar; they get married and honeymoon in a mountain trailer park in Cortez. Meanwhile, on a crime spree detour, pachuco antihero Jabo and the witchy “rock-writer” Chic Blundie drive North from L.A. to Cortez on their way South to Jabo’s hometown of Ciudad Juarez (until recently the homicide capital of the world). Only one couple emerges from the bloody trailer, escaping across the New Mexican desert to Juarez, where they part, assuming (or absorbing?) new identities.”