Peter Case – Wig! (CD review)

Peter Case – Wig! (Yep Roc Records) – CD review –

Peter Case has devoted the latter part of his solo career to different elements of roots and folk music.  But, while his last release, Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John (2007), was an all-acoustic affair, Case decides to plug his amp back in for Wig! and rock it out.  This might be the rawest, most bare-bones thing he’s ever recorded.  And, for a guy that likes roots music, that’s really saying something.

One of the first things you notice is the warmth that permeates the tracks and the slight hiss in the high end, both obvious signs that this project was done on old school analog tape.  There’s also a raw energy that suggests that everything was laid down live, as it happened.  Much of Wig! has a blues feel, from the boogie woogie piano of “Banks of the River,” to the swamp-filled  “Somebody Told the Truth.”  In their production style and arrangements, these songs could easily be mistaken for lost tracks from the Sun or Vee Jay catalogs of the early Sixties.

All but one song was co-written by Case (Ledbetter’s “Thirty Days in the Workhouse”), but several tracks are reminiscent of songs that came before: “Ain’t Got No Dough” cleverly inverts the opening riff to the Motown classic “Money,” while “The Words in Red” features a 12-string guitar, chords similar to “So You Want to Be a Rock n’ Roll Star” from the Byrds,  and the lines “The Words in Red / These Are the Words That Jesus Said.”  It’s certainly one of the best songs Case has written in years.  On a side note, Peter Case recently went through heart surgery; Wig! is a good sign that he’s back to good health. –Tony Peters