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Peter Case
Flying Saucer Blues
(Vanguard)


Peter Case has got to be one of the hardest-working singer-songwriter typ es out there. From his roots as a new wave pioneer (you remember The Pli msouls don't'cha) to the modern day, poet laureate that he has become, Ca se has always remained a step ahead of his contemporaries. Able to mine both the "folkie" road as well as the "band-leader" role, Case has been able to maintain his credibility by providing consistent, high-quality ma terial. I mean, that's what's really important, right?

Flying Saucer Blues finds the rootsier side of Case coming forward. "Thi s Could Be The One" is rooted in the traditional angles forged by Woody G uthrie and the like. Employing mandolin, fiddles and slide guitar to gro und the tune, Case's strengths are highlighted even more than usual. His melodies and understanding of how to make a good song shine brightly, an d if you listen hard enough, you could hear how a Plimsouls-like band cou ld bang it out just as effectively. He mixes his pop sensibilities with a heapin' helping of country on "Coulda Shoulda Woulda." Think in the Ol d 97's vein and you've got it. There's some smoking fiddle provided by G abe Witcher and another catchy chorus. Case's lyrics are introspective, but he is not the "hero" of this song. It comes from the point of the do wntrodden man reflecting on life decisions and their outcomes. Kind of t hat Ray Davies "speaking from the other man's perspective" school of thou ght. He delves into the story-telling motif for "Two Heroes." As you li sten to the tale of Albert, Case's writing paints a picture in your mind and you become absorbed in the tale. These 6 minutes just fly by, that's how good it is. This is a fine piece of work instrumentally as well. T here's some blistering harmonica and plenty of gritty acoustic guitar. " Cool Drink O' Water" is a lighter romp through a shuffled and bluesy terr ain. There's some interesting use of slide guitar and horns that don't s eem to fit, but, strangely enough, it all works out. You can hear the jo y in Case's voice as he thinks of his childhood on "Black Dirt & Clay." This ode to being a child and to childhood friends will probably take you back to that time in your life as well. "Cold Trail Blues" brings us cl oser to Case with a plodding, heartfelt lament, while "Blue Distance" fin ds him reflecting over multiple layers of steel, guitar and harmonium. T hat one's beautiful number.

This is another strong set of songs from a proven song-spinner. His abil ity to combine his many influences (past and present) into a unique and c oherent unit is where he excels. His lyrical ability has only grown over the years. DO NOT buy this record if you're looking for the next "A Mil lion Miles Away." He's way past that. Peter Case is probably one of the most under appreciated voices in music for the past twenty years. His p erseverance is a welcome thing, as his music transcends genres and what's "hip." I'd take this any day over the likes of the boy bands and the un inspired rock records out there. This is strong songwriting.

-tom topkoff

Track Listing:
1. Paradise Etc.
2. Cool Drink O' Water
3. Blue Distance
4. Walking Home Late
5. Coulda Shoulda Woulda
6. Something Happens
7. Two Heroes
8. Lost In Your Eyes
9. Black Dirt & Clay
10. Cold Trail Blues
11. This Could Be The One

 


Mike Doughty



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