In case you’re wondering what could possibly justify such a cheeseball album title, The Case Files is a compilation of Peter Case‘s “demos, outtakes, one live shot & other rarities” from as recent as 2009 and as far back as the mid-80s. Case is usually stuck with the appellation folk singer, and while that’s not wrong, it’s not the only truth, as a sampling of this record attests. He rocks righteously through the acoustic piledriver “Give Me) One More Mile,” “Round Trip Stranger Blues” and the rollicking protest tune “Let’s Turn This Thing Around” (featuring Stan Ridgway on synthesized bagpipes), and gets even more raucous and unrefined on covers of his friend Alejandro Escovedo‘s “The End” and the standard “Milk Cow Blues.” Joined by his Plimsouls mate Eddie Munoz, Case keeps a lid on “Anything (Closing Credits),” but the soaring melody speaks plainly. Ranging further afield, Case makes the Rolling Stones‘ “Good Time, Bad Times” sound like a vintage country blues and Bob Dylan‘s “Black Cow Blues” into an equally deceptively old sounding piano blues. He puts his folk hat back on for “Kokomo Prayer Vigil,” another protest song, and the riveting, pointed “Trusted Friend.” “Ballad of the Minimum Wage” is more political commentary, spoken like a Beat poem and featuring his late friend Duane Jarvis on incidental music and noises. A special treat appears in the form of “Steel Strings No. 1,’ a demo of a song that appears on his 1986 self-titled first album, and featuring that LP’s producer T Bone Burnett. With a program ranging from acoustic blues to shimmering folk pop to ragged rock & roll, The Case Files is the singer/songwriter’s most eclectic record since his debut, and it’s damn near as satisfying.
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