Album: Terry Allen

Amerasia, Sugar Hill
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The Independent Culture

If it's cultural crossover you want, this reissued album from Terry Allen demonstrates how it can be undertaken intelligently, without recourse to dreary trance or disco rhythms. Through recent albums such as Salivation, Allen has sustained his characteristic, idiosyncratic Southern-leftie rebel attitude well into his fifth decade, This 1985 project, the soundtrack to a film that's now out of circulation, considers the cultural fall-out (on both sides) of America's South-East Asian war. Opening on the rhythmic swoosh of helicopter blades, Amerasia surveys a damaged generation of veterans ("Each bears his own burden/ The truth and the lies/ From the blood on his hands/ To the look in his eyes"), at least one of whom opts, in "Back Out of the World", to return to the locale where he "gave up his youth/ to this restless truth". Thailand was where GIs went for rest and recuperation, and where B-52s that carpet-bombed the region were based, so balancing the American viewpoint - presented with characteristic country-rock by Allen's reliable Panhandle Mystery Band - are two songs performed in Thai by Surachai Jantimatorn. The whole thing comes together in "My Country 'Tis of Thee", in which the nationalist anthem is rendered on bamboo flute; and "Let Freedom Ring", a hymn to international brotherhood.