This first-ever vinyl reissue, remastered from the original analogue tapes, includes a gatefold jacket and inner sleeve with restored, new, and alternate art and photos by Terry and Jo Harvey Allen; an insert with lyrics, original notes, and Terry’s letter to H.C. Westermann about the songs; and a high-res download code. Recorded exactly two years after acclaimed visual artist and songwriter Terry Allen’s masterpiece Lubbock (on everything), the feral follow-up Smokin the Dummy is less conceptually focused but more sonically and stylistically unified than its predecessor it’s also rougher and rowdier, wilder and more wired, and altogether more menacingly rock and roll.
Following the 1973 Whitney Biennial, in which songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen and fellow iconic artist Horace Clifford “Cliff” Westermann both exhibited, Allen maintained a lively long-distance correspondence and exchange of artworks and music with Westermann, whose singular and highly influential art he admired enormously. In a February 1981 letter to his friend and mentor, written shortly after the late 1980 release of his third album Smokin the Dummy, while he and his family were living in Fresno, California, Terry explains the genesis of the album title: Westermann died shortly after receiving this letter, enclosed with the LP, the minimalist black jacket of which Allen suggested that Cliff fold into a jaunty cardboard hat if he didn’t like the music.
His first album to share top billing with the Panhandle Mystery Band, Dummy documents a ferocious new band in fully telepathic, tornado-fueled flight, refining its caliber, increasing its range, and never looking down. Alongside the stalwart Maines brothers co-producer, guitarist, and all-rounder Lloyd, bassist Kenny, and drummer Donnie and mainstay Richard Bowden (who here contributes not only fiddle but also mandolin, cello, and “truck noise theory,” the big-rig doppler effect of Lloyd’s steel on “Roll Truck Roll”), new addition Jesse Taylor supplies blistering lead guitar, on loan from Joe Ely (who plays harmonica here). Jesse’s kinetic blues lines and penchant for extreme volume were instrumental in pushing these recordings into brisker tempos and tougher attitudes.