Peter Case has had a long and diverse career, which began in the mid Seventies with his first band the Nerves. They didn’t sell a lot of records, but ended up being very influential on many bands that came after. Case fronted the Plimsouls through the mid-Eighties, scoring an MTV hit with “A Million Miles Away.” After his band broke up, and right in the middle of the BIG Eighties, he embarked on an acoustic solo career – embracing roots music, and garnering several Grammy nominations. Now Case is back with his first new album in five years called Hwy 62, and in a way he’s come full circle, with this new record once again embracing acoustic roots music. We talk the five-year gap in between studio albums; how he got hooked up with Ben Harper, who plays great guitar on the record; and the crowd funding campaign he’s running to fund his upcoming tour.
Thursday night marked the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. We pay tribute to one of the most influential musicians in the history of music through a special 2-hour edition of Icon Fetch. The show will feature live calls from listeners and recorded interviews with a wide array of musicians who were affected by Lennon’s talent. Among the guests are May Pang, who was Lennon’s girlfriend during the year and a half “Lost Weekend;” Delbert McClinton, who taught Lennon how to play the harmonica in the early days of the Beatles; and Tommy James, Gary Wright and Wally Bryson of the Raspberries, who all had a chance to meet Lennon during his lifetime.
Other artists include Grammy winners Shelby Lynne and David Lanz; rockers Dwight Twilley and Donnie Iris; melodic songwriters Marshall Crenshaw and Jason Falkner; and underground veterans Peter Case and Steve Wynn. Several authors who have written recent books about the singer, including Robert Rodriguez, Ken Sharp and Keith Elliot Greenberg, will also weigh in with their thoughts.
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
Peter Case was the leader of the Plimsouls who had an early eighties near-hit with “A Million Miles Away.” He left for an eclectic solo career in 1986 that’s garnered him critical acclaim and three Grammy nominations. Now Peter returns with a new disc called “Wig!” He talks with Icon Fetch about having to have emergency heart surgery and the effect that it had on his life and his music. Plus the subsequent comeback shows that led to the recording of his new material. Click below for the Peter Case interview.