CD Review: Peter Case – Highway 62
Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the brand new Peter Case record (as well as brand new video of Peter Case performing his Plimsouls set which you’ll find at the bottom of this post). While Peter Case may be one of powerpop’s greatest songwriters and performers (read this Rolling Stone article from 1981 and you’ll understand how very close they came to breaking), his post-Plimsouls career clearly does not fit that description – not power pop, that is. Nevertheless, his latest release entitled Highway 62 is worth discussing as his songwriting is arguably better than ever. There’s a passion and momentum to this record that even the slower numbers don’t lose. And on the midtempo tracks, Case shows that he still has a knack for writing great hooks. Some of these songs would unquestionably make great power pop tracks if given the 70’s Plimsouls treatment. The contributions of D.J. Bonebrake is an additional treat, particularly for fans of X (as I am).
Again, this is NOT a powerpop record, but it’s got some of Case’s best work on it. “Pelican Bay” starts things off with a description of prison life and a broader statement about our justice system. This track grabbed hold of me immediately. Along those same thematic lines, “All Dressed Up (For Trial)” is a midtempo gem with a hooky chorus you won’t forget – Hell, I’m humming it as I write this.
Several tracks touch on a life and career as a troubadour musician including the slow but engaging “Waiting on a Plane”, “New Mexico” and “The Long Good Time”. The latter two are particularly appealing as they rely on engaging melodies and a very expressive delivery.
I definitely prefer this release to his last Peter Case record. While it had it’s moments, Wig was not nearly as interesting from start to finish. If you liked this previous effort, you’ll love Highway 62. Even if you didn’t like Wig, this new one is worth at least a listen – and likely much more.
On a side note, I met Peter Case several years ago while working with/for Misters Wicks (The Records) and Collins (The Nerves, The Beat). Case joined the guys for the McCabes show and shared some great stories. The three pop luminaries performed together for a half hour or more (Case alludes to this in the video below). It was perhaps the most memorable half hour of that tour.
Recently, Peter appeared at the benefit concert for John Wicks and treated everyone to some old Plimsouls favorites including “Zero Hour” and “Million Miles Away”. Having flown out to Los Angeles for the show, I thought I’d share some footage of Case’s performance. He rarely plays these songs any more so here they are for your enjoyment.
By the way, if you’re looking for Plimsouls’ chords, I’ve posted the chords to the Plimouls’ “Now” for your reference.