The miracle isn’t that Peter Perrett has made a comeback album. The miracle isn’t that he’s making music. The miracle is that Peter Perrett is still alive. And functioning.
decades on from ‘Another Girl Another Planet’, the minor hit record that
defined his career as the frontman for the Only Ones, Perrett returns with How
The West Was Won, a rather fascinating album that defies all odds.
I say ‘Another
Girl Another Planet’ was a “minor” hit, only because that’s how it started out,
in the relative infancy of its first couple of years. But as the decades
passed, long after Perrett disappeared from public view, the track grew legs,
and it is now universally recognised as one of its era’s seminal “new wave”
The Only Ones made
just three albums, over three years, from 1978 to 1980, before Perrett slid
into a pit of serious drug addiction and self-imposed isolation. He briefly emerged
from seclusion in the mid Nineties to make a new album with a band called The
One (see what he did there?), which mostly went unnoticed, before he again
disappeared from view.
that journey, Perrett managed to become a father,
and it’s with the help of two sons – Jamie (guitar, keys) and Peter junior (bass,
ex-Babyshambles) – that the now 65-year-old rocker has returned with this debut
So it’s probably fair
to say that How The West Was Won is one of this year’s biggest surprises. For
all of the reasons noted above, and because it’s actually a bloody good album.
Perrett possesses a
voice that could be best described as “lived-in”. Unspectacular, overly nasal, cracked,
and somewhat grizzled. But it works. It works because – aside from the obvious
Lou Reed comparison – it’s perfect for the songs he’s written. Songs about his
struggle with addiction, songs about celebrity and fame (or infamy), songs that
veer into the realm of politics, and songs about his relationship with long-time partner, Zena …
just look at some of the song titles: ‘An Epic Story’, ‘Hard To Say No’, ‘Living
In My Head’, ‘Man of Extremes’, and ‘Something In My Brain’ … you get the
And the album
works because, first and foremost, Perrett is completely honest about his
journey. Which is a sure sign he’s getting beyond the addiction issues that
have plagued his story. The song-writing is raw and at times, quite brutal. There
is also the odd morsel of humour, most of it self-deprecating, but some of it
at the expense of Kim Kardashian (who he mock-claims to be in love with, without
ever wanting to see her from the front).
keeps things simple and relatively uncomplicated – two guitars (he plays rhythm
himself), bass, keyboards, and drums (courtesy of Jake Woodward). It’s an ethos
completely aligned with the production. The message seems to be
that, often, the most precious diamonds are those left unpolished.
Flaws and all,
this feels like a very complete album, one that only Perrett could have made,
and I for one, am thankful that he did.