Although it's all but unknown outside of a devoted cult following, Terry Allen's second album, 1979's Lubbock (On Everything)
, is one of the finest country albums of all time, a progenitor of what would eventually be called alt-country. This is country music with a wink and a dry-as-West-Texas-dust sense of humor, but at heart, Lubbock (On Everything)
is a thoughtful meditation on Allen's hometown. Recorded in Lubbock after Allen hadn't lived there for close to a decade with a small group headed by local legends Don Caldwell
and Lloyd Maines
, the songs alternate between biting character studies like "Lubbock Woman" and "The Great Joe Bob (A Regional Tragedy)," about a high school football star who ends up robbing a liquor store, and more loving tributes like "The Thirty Years War" and "The Wolfman of Del Rio." Salted through are a handful of songs about the pretensions of the art world (something Allen knows well in his day job as a sculptor and painter) that help keep the album's more cutting lines from sounding mean-spirited. A 20-song masterpiece, Lubbock (On Everything)
is essential listening for anyone with an interest in the outer fringes of country music.