Bangkok on Everything

Terry Allen's lost post-Vietnam-era soundtrack re-emerges decades later

Allen wrote the raunchy "Display Woman/Displaced Man" after a visit to the world's largest brothel, where women sat on bleachers behind a window. Each had a number. The place was so big customers used binoculars to get a better view. The customer would say a certain number and that woman would be brought out.

"That was the only song I wrote specifically for a scene. Bühler asked if I could do kind of a disco tune for bar scenes. I had the title and the tune but actually wrote most of the lyrics while we were recording it in Lubbock." Allen's lyric neatly sums up the scene: "Display woman behind the glass / show your number, shake your ass / displaced man outta control / got money in his hand, love fear in his soul."

Bühler never got a sufficiently good translation of all the Thai dialogue in his movie to make presentation in the United States viable, so except for German television and a few public screenings, the film just faded away. But where Bühler's effort is now little more than celluloid in limbo, like one of his celebrated sculptures or screenplays Allen's music has retained its integrity, relevance and vigor. Allen's entire out-of-print Fate Records catalog is being reissued by Sugar Hill Records and even though Amerasia wasn't his earliest work, he decided it should be released first.

Allen (second from left) Thais up some studio time with the Panhandle Mystery Band.
Allen (second from left) Thais up some studio time with the Panhandle Mystery Band.

"I was going to release Juarez first, but when this latest adventure into the desert seemed to be the same one we stepped into in the jungle earlier, the release made sense." Quoting lyrics from the album, Allen says, "'Nobody's going home.' Lot of dead kids and the same ol' rock and roll."

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