Peter Case Biography

5 April 1954, Buffalo, New York, USA. This Los Angeles, California-based folk rock singer-songwriter first worked as part of pop rock bands the Nerves (whose compositions included ‘Hanging On The Telephone’) and the Plimsouls. His solo career kicked off in 1986 with an album of stylistic diversity. Intelligent and considered, there was little in the songs to excite but plenty to provoke thought. With co-production from T-Bone Burnett (who also wrote some of the songs) and Mitchell Froom, this was a fine collection combining Case’s plaintive delivery with intelligent lyrics. The best examples included ‘Steel Strings’, later covered by Marshall Crenshaw, and a cover version of the Pogues’ ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’, on which Roger McGuinn played guitar.

Case’s 1989 follow-up mined a narrower seam. This time the assembled personnel included David Lindley, Jim Keltner and David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), although Case’s remained the dominant voice. Spiritual matter was covered in ‘Hidden Love’ while his remarkable observational streak offered further excellent character and place studies in songs such as ‘Poor Old Tom’ and ‘This Town’s A Riot’. Despite its many attractive features, critics judged Case to have lost the light-fingered touch his earlier pop incarnations and first album had demonstrated. This was redressed by the issue of a third collection, three years later, in 1992. Six-Pack Of Love threw in elevated Beatles harmonies alongside jangling guitars and soul influences. His second album without a binding musical ethos, it nevertheless marked a return to the uplifting, optimistic Case of old.

Having been released by Geffen Records, Case recorded the compellingly low-key blues album Sings Like Hell, which subsequently led to a new recording contract with Vanguard Records. Torn Again (1995) and Full Service No Waiting (1997) showcased Case as the folk troubadour. Case joined the Plimsouls recording reunion in 1997 while still working as a solo artist, although his next solo album Flying Saucer Blues did not appear until summer 2000. The following year Case compiled Avalon Blues, a tribute album to one of his musical heroes, Mississippi John Hurt. He also self-released Thank You St. Jude on which Case and fiddle player David Perales recorded acoustic versions of some of Case’s most ‘famous’ songs. The following year’s Beeline included musical contributions from the artist’s son, Joshua Case.

Although he remained active as a performer and musicologist, Case recorded little in the next five years. He was honoured by other artists in 2006 with the multi-CD tribute A Case For Case. The following year he published his entertaining memoirs and released a new studio album, Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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