Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Peter Case's Wig! Brings The Master Back

Peter CaseOpen heart surgery would put most people on the sidelines. And for awhile, it looked like it might for brilliant singer/songwriter Peter Case.

What started out as a routine test turned into an ER drama worthy of an episode of House. Case spent the next year recovering. He also had to worry about how he would pay for his six-figure medical bills. Like many artists, he had no health insurance.

Fortunately, Case did have some friends spanning his 25 years as a musician. Dave Alvin, Loudon Wainwright III, and Richard Thompson all performed benefit shows to help raise money for Case’s medical bills.

Meanwhile, Case stayed busy. Rather than sitting idle, he worked on some reissues of recordings by his former bands, namely The Nerves and The Plimsouls.

The Making of Wig! By Peter Case.

The reissues are largely the reason Case caught the bug again. He had the urge (and the stamina) to rock. So he invited drummer D.J. Bonebrake (X) and guitarist Ron Franklin (Gasoline Silver) to play a few shows to test the waters. The chemistry and sound were right and the three of them headed into the studio.

The resulting Wig! album is no-nonsense electric blues/rock. It's produced by Case himself, recorded live to analog over just a few days. Case added a few overdubs later, like some bass and amplified harmonica.

“It’s not just a way of life,” Case told his label, Yep Roc. "It's an explosive reaction against the tension of living in an insane century."

What makes Wig! listenable is its simplicity, assured sound, and dirty, swampy grooves. The songs feature a recurring theme of being down and out (like Case was when he was writing them).

Yet, there is a lighthearted thread that weaves it all together. Thirty Days In the Workhouse is gut-busting blues, House Rent Party is poignant, Dig What You’re Putting Down is blazing hot. The other tie that binds is Case's voice. He has been down and out, but now he's back. I think he might even sound better than ever.

Peter Case’s Wig! Swaggers In With An 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Wig! is a triumphant return by a well-respected belter. Even if you have never heard of The Nerves or The Plimsouls (the song A Million Miles Away is the big one), you probably have heard Case's work. His music is all over TV and film, including the show True Blood.

You can find Wig! by Peter Case on iTunes. Wig! is also on Amazon. Peter Case currently has dates set for Boston, Philly, Albany (N.Y.), and Hoboken (N.J.). He will finish in Morgantown, West. Va. He is definitely worth catching live if you’re lucky enough.
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