thu 20/07/2017

CD: Peter Perrett - How The West Was Won | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Peter Perrett - How The West Was Won

CD: Peter Perrett - How The West Was Won

One of Britain's greatest, least celebrated songwriters returns after two decades away

His lyrical abilities are undiminished since his prime
Back from the shadows

Peter Perrett is one of the most underrated songwriters. If people have heard of him, it’s down to The Only Ones’ classic, “Another Girl, Another Planet”, but The Only Ones made three albums (and an odds’n’ends collection) as the Seventies turned to the Eighties, all peppered with gems. Perrett also surfaced in the mid-Nineties as The One, with another album, Woke Up Sticky. However, since then, despite multiple false starts and an Only Ones reunion (teasing fans with unreleased new song “Black Operations”), there’s been no sign of new material until now.

Perrett’s career was famously derailed by drug use but, in his mid-sixties, he’s finally clean. Accompanied by his sons, Jamie (guitar) and Peter Jr (bass), he’s relaunching, and has a sturdy independent, Domino, behind him. The cheering news is that How The West Was Won is a good album, if not a great one. Much of it is, appropriately, devoted to loss and regret and, especially, his feelings for his wife, Xena, his partner in crime through thick and thin since they ran away together as teenagers.

“Epic Story” and “C Voyeurger” are heart-on-sleeve, almost teenage-sounding gushes of love, containing heart-wrenching contrition. He stares mortality in the face with a shrug on “Sweet Endeavour”, while “Hard to Say No” and “Something in My Brain” lay out wryly observed perspectives on addiction. The title track is incongruous but rather good, a wordy jam taking a poke at American cultural and imperial dominance (“We started out as a beacon of hope/But the dream of liberty quickly turned into a joke/The Indians and Mexicans were the first to feel the rope”). Jamie Perrett learnt guitar at the knee of Only Ones virtuoso John Perry, and he musters impressive work on the six-and-a-half minute “Troika” and others.

It’s an album that shows Peter Perrett’s unique voice on fine form, and his lyrical abilities undiminished since his prime. The shortfall is in memorable tunes, with only moving closer “Take Me Home” up there with his very greatest work. But that is, admittedly, a ridiculously high benchmark. As he sings, “At least I’m now capable of one last defiant breath,” I can only hope he has many more than that. There’s energized creativity here and it’s great to have him back.

Overleaf: Watch the video for Peter Perrett "How The West Was Won"

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