Album: Terry Allen <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fivestar -->

The Silent Majority, SUGAR HILL
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The Independent Culture

The Texan polymath and "chicken-fried renaissance man", Terry Allen has cut his own swath through American culture for more than three decades now, equally comfortable writing plays, doing art installations, and providing music for dance productions, plays and films such as David Byrne's True Stories. Nearly all his protean forms are represented on this compilation of out-takes and off-cuts - subtitled with his typical sardonic self-deprecation, "Terry Allen's Greatest Missed Hits" - which neatly reflects the dominant concerns of his own albums, with mordant observations on both imperialism's European past and its extended American present. The cameos of American types and tropes in songs such as "Cocktail Desperado", "Arizonia Spiritual" and "High Horse Momma" are mostly set to Allen's own take on country-rock, a blend of piano, Dobro, fiddle and mandolin underpinned by galumphing New Orleans-style tuba, trombone and trumpet. More interesting, however, are his commentaries on European colonialism in songs such as "Yo Ho Ho", "Big Ol' White Boys" and "New Delhi Freight Train". Most pungent of all is his observation, in the droll "I Love Germany", that "In Europe you're up to your ass/ In the mirror of everything past/ But look, what waits behind the glass". A cynical treasure.