By Jesse Keith
First released in 1975, country maverick Terry Allen’s first album, Juarez, is a sordid tale of the blood and booze surrounding two couples in a Californian desert. This re-release maintains Juarez’s hard edge by keeping the sparse production of the original, but also offers two new instrumental tracks.
Now call me a redneck, but I love nothing more than traditional country or folk music. Juarez gives exactly that, with all the twangy foot stomping guitars and yodeled Dylan-esque vocals I could desire.
Yet, for all its promise, this isn’t the most listenable album in Terry Allen’s catalogue. The spoken narrative and dialogue tracks get damn annoying after the second listen. The break-up of the album’s flow causes you to reach for the skip button. And the bleak murder story theme makes it a bit heavy for everyday listening.
Juarez isn’t an album you just throw on to listen to a couple of your favourite tracks. It’s a concept album with a story to tell and it only plays well as a whole.
Lack of accessibility aside, Juarez also happens to be one of the best alt-country albums I’ve come across in a long time. Although a little bleak at times, the musicianship and production are nearly flawless.