“Wig! It’s not just a way of life, it’s an explosive reaction against the tension of living in an insane century.” -Peter Case
Yes, friends, Peter Case has cheated death. He stared the ghoul in the eye, gave it the finger, plugged his heart back in, strapped on his guitar, plugged that in, too, and played be damned rock n’ roll. Wild, unsubstantiated rumors swirl that he performed the blood pump surgery himself. Personally, I don’t believe it. Though it’s more that Case just isn’t a show off, and less that I don’t think he couldn’t rip the old ticker out and fix it up. He’s that kind of guy. DIY.
Before I get into “Wig!” I have to say that I’m a late arrival to the Peter Case bus. I first heard him in ’93 on “Sings Like Hell.” I had been listening to Dylan’s twofer series of solo acoustic garage covers of old folk and blues songs, “Good As I’ve Been to You” and “World Gone Wrong,” when a rocker friend of mine gave me Case’s album. It came out long after his punk tenures had ended, which at the time I knew nothing about, though the punk stuff is what oddly still seems to remain the thing for which he is most famous. Seriously, though, people the math just doesn’t add up. He’s been solo for how long? Twenty-four years? Exactly. Anyway, it wasn’t the Plimsouls, I guess, and I recall my friend saying something like “here, you like this old shit.” I did like it. I liked it a lot.
That’s not to say I became a true believer and ran out and bought all of his albums over the years. As a radio man, at least in play, I forget the economics of access. In ’93 I simply didn’t or couldn’t buy all of someone’s albums. So, “Sings Like Hell” rattled around in one car or another for years. When “Flying Sauce Blues” came out in 2000 I heard it somewhere and bought it. Shortly after, I began working at KBCS in Seattle and found Case had much more to offer.
Jump forward nine years. The club road is long as it is hard, and Case, one sunny afternoon (or so I imagine) clutched his chest and went to see a doctor. Open heart surgery ensued and no thanks to our broken health care system, but many thanks to the people that love him, he’s back up on his feet and doing his thing. God bless America.
Which brings us up to “Wig!” Clearly feeling the fire of life Case went into the studio and laid down some of the swampiest, bluesiest songs this side of the 1970s. This is mixed barrel bourbon and he should be proud. It’s all gut. If you ‘re looking for the cerebral, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re looking to grind it out, then here it is. “Wig!” is filled with blown out harmonicas, fuzzed out guitars laying down something between the blues and rockabilly, and some barrelhouse honkytonk piano all greased up and made dirty by DJ Bonebrake, of X and the Knitters, on the drums. This is sweaty stuff good for those long nights when you don’t care who is listening. Yes, I know the blues are dead. Long live the blues.