Album review

Various : Wig In A Box
Off Records

Various : Wig In A BoxHedwig And The Angry Inch? If like me you immediately thought of owls, maybe some background is in order. Hedwig And The Angry Inch started life as an off-Broadway rock musical telling the story of transexual East German immigrant rocker Hedwig, who's botched sex change operation has left her with the aforementioned angry inch. Hedwig's ensuing search for love and stardom has seemingly captivated everyone who's seen it, including New Line Cinema who helped creators John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask take it to cinema in 2001.
    The original movie soundtrack - featuring such alt-rock luminaries as ex Hüsker Dü and Sugar bloke Bob Mould and fabulous New York art-rockers Girls Against Boys - has now sold over 150,000 copies worldwide, and Wig In A Box is a CD full of re-recordings of the show's songs by the unlikeliest yet coolest musical cast anyone could hope to pull together.

Wig In A Box reads like a who's who of early 90s indie cool. Yeah, Bob Mould's back, but he's brought along Frank Black, Imperial Teen and The Breeders this time. How about Ben Kweller teaming up with Ben Folds and Ben Lee? You can just imagine Mitchell and Trask sitting around thinking that one up can't you . . . maybe just after coming up with the Harry Hill combination of Yoko Ono and - wait for it - Yo La Tengo! Mmm, no really.
    The best double acts musically have got to be Cyndi Lauper & The Minus 5's take on Midnight Radio - Lauper's vocals have aged fabulously, and she manages a Marianne Faithful croak with surprising ease - and the you-wouldn't-believe-it-if-you-hadn't heard-it combination of Sleater-Kinney & Fred Schneider. Yes! Fred "It's as big as a whale!" Schneider from the B-52's singing about post-op trauma on Angry Inch - truly inspired.
    Other notables include Rufus Wainwright, Robyn Hitchcock, the supremely daft Polyphonic Spree and punk survivor Jonathan Richman. Like I said; 'unlikeliest but coolest'.

The line-up's stellar, the music's great and the proceeds go to New York's Hetrick-Martin Institute - an organisation dedicated to serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth through educational programmes, counselling and support services. Sounds like a worthwhile cause to me, which is one more reason to recommend that you part with your hard-earned and pick up a copy of Wig In A Box as soon as you can.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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