Peter Case has had a music career that few of his contemporaries can match. Breaking in with Jack Lee and Paul Collins as the Nerves, no one would have guessed it was the beginning of a musical road thatâ€™s now stretched more than forty years. Caseâ€™s second band, the Plimsouls, garnered a major label contract, tours and an appearance in Valley Girl, but this too ended up as prelude to a solo career launched by his eponymous 1986 album. Unlike the rock â€˜nâ€™ roll of his earlier bands, his solo work – both on record and in performance – put a greater focus on his songwriting, and itâ€™s that songwriting thatâ€™s highlighted in these tracks taken from live radio performances in 1998 and 2000.
Both performances are drawn from Caseâ€™s appearances on KPFKâ€™s FolkScene. The earlier set highlights material from Caseâ€™s Full Service, No Waiting, while the latter set combines material from Flying Saucer Blues and earlier releases, and adds covers of Mississippi John Hurt and Charlie Poole. Both sets were engineered by FolkSceneâ€™s resident engineer, Peter Cutler, and sparkle with the showâ€™s warmth and Caseâ€™s creativity. Case is joined by the Full Service album band for the 1998 set, and by violinist David Perales for the later tracks.
At 40, Case was thinking deeply about the path from his childhood to his present. The title track is filled with the memories an ex-pat relishes in revisiting his hometown, while â€œSee Through Eyesâ€ laments the incursion of doubt that middle age brings. Case remembers his San Francisco years in â€œGreen Blanket (Part 1)â€ and â€œStill Playinâ€™,â€ and explores the roots of his rambling in the acoustic â€œCrooked Mile.â€ The first set closes with the adolescently hopeful â€œUntil the Next Time,â€ while the second set opens in a more present frame of mind with â€œSomething Happens.â€ Two years on, Case was still remembering notable moments from his past, but also looking forward.
The songs easily fit the band setting, but the starker guitar-and-violin arrangements of the second set provide Caseâ€™s singing and lyrics a more intense spotlight. He slips easily into the acoustic picking of Mississippi John Hurtâ€™s â€œPay Dayâ€ and wears the lyric with a familiarity that belies its mid-60s origins. Case moves easily between blues and folk, and Parales violin provides moody underlines, rapidly bowed sparks and intricate, emotional accompaniment, highlighted by his ornamental line on â€œBeyond the Blues.â€ Peter Cutlerâ€™s recording is clean and unaffected, and presents Case as you might expect to hear him in a club or on a street corner, with his musical magic at full power. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]