All audio has been meticulously remastered from the original master tapes for this first-ever vinyl edition of Pedal Steal (1985) and first-ever release of the Four Corners radio plays (1986–1993).
Deluxe LP+3CD+book set features 145g virgin vinyl LP; heavy-duty board gatefold jacket; printed inner LP sleeve; custom 3CD portfolio; high-res download code; and an exhaustive 28pp. color booklet boasting the first in-depth essay to explore this singular body of work, dozens of images of Allen’s related visual art, and full scripts and credits for all five pieces (a total of 33k words).
I think there are three great American inventions: one is duct tape, one is hot glue, and the other one is putting radios in cars.
– Terry Allen, “A Self-Interview,” 1994
The five works on Terry Allen’s Pedal Steal + Four Corners were all created during a period of intense, condensed creativity spanning eight years, are all closely related to his interdisciplinary bodies of visual art and performance, and are all set in the American Southwest and West. Like Allen’s songwriting, which only nominally fits within the realm of country music (“Which country?” Terry quips), his work for radio, and his long-form narrative audio recordings more broadly, appropriate the general form and format of the genre, or medium, of popular radio dramas—monologue, dialogue, songs, interstitial instrumentals, and diegetic sound cues within a roughly thirty minute running time—but transform it into something much denser with meaning within a postmodern art context. They prefigure similar podcast experiments by decades.
Pedal Steal (1985), originally composed as the Bessie Award-winning soundtrack to a dance performance by Margaret Jenkins Dance Co.—and the only one of these works that has been previously released—actually premiered not on air, but rather onstage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. However, its Four Corners companion pieces would not have been possible without the earlier and more structurally complex, blueprint of Pedal Steal, the first long-form narrative recording Allen undertook with the support of the Panhandle Mystery Band, actor and writer (and Terry’s wife) Jo Harvey Allen, and other collaborators including fellow Lubbockites Butch Hancock and Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys. The story elides the New Mexican pedal steel guitarist Wayne Gailey and legendary outlaw Billy the Kid into a spectral composite character called Billy the Boy, resurrected by a postmortem chorus in English, Spanish, and Navajo.
Torso Hell (1986), Bleeder (1990), Reunion (a return to Juarez) (1992), and Dugout (1993) together comprise the Four Corners suite, a reference both to a song from Allen’s first album Juarez (1975), and to the site where the state lines of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah crash in a cartographic crucifix. Allen designed these radio plays specifically for listening in a car, always a favorite space to audition his audio work. All Four Corners works were broadcast on NPR affiliates nationwide. The latter three were commissioned by New American Radio, an organization which, from 1987 to 1998, commissioned more than 300 experimental works for radio by artists such as Pura Fé, Pauline Oliveros, and Christian Marclay.