Folk singer, Plimsoul, pop icon, California scenester and deep thinker Peter Case is one of the most prolific, restless songwriters on the American pop scene. His vision can be uplifting but is just as often informed by the starkest realism imaginable. Consider these lines from "Paradise, Etc.": "The apocalypse is over and I still owe rent/Love is learned when the heart turns stone/Prayer begins when you can't go on." This comprehensive 48-track tribute is remarkable for vigorous interpretations that move far beyond rote hero-worship. Beginning with Houston rising star Hayes Carll's laconic, soulful take on "Beyond the Blues," the album traipses through an almost bewildering list of artists, from Dave Alvin and Tom Russell to Joe Ely, Gurf Morlix, James McMurtry and Sam Baker. Legends such as John Prine, Bill Kirchen and Steve Wynn provide exhilarating tracks, but the most surprising performances come from undergrounders such as Chris Gaffney ("Zero Hour"), Ronny Elliott ("Horse and Crow") and Mary Battiata ("Paradise, Etc."). A fund-raising project for the Hungry for Music Foundation, sales of the three-disc set help provide musical instruments to needy children.
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment