‘Wig in a Box: Songs From and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ (2003)

23Dec05

Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell’s gender-bending Hedwig and the Angry Inch has gathered a cult following among film- and theater-goers. As evidenced by this collection, the music has quickly become greatly beloved by musicians as diverse as Yoko Ono, Imperial Teen, and Fred Schneider. The passion for these songs espoused by the artists is readily apparent in all of the tracks, but unfortunately their love of the material does not always produce the greatest results.

The album’s highlights:

  • Sleater-Kinney & Fred Schneider’s “Angry Inch” — Sleater-Kinney’s intense guitar and drum work, Corin Tucker’s half-singing/half-bellowing vocals, and Fred Schneider’s snide delivery perfectly capture Hedwig’s angry yet tongue-in-cheek narrative of his botched sex-change operation.
  • Frank Black’s “Sugar Daddy” — One of the albums most energetic moments, Frank Black truly embraces Hedwig’s spirit of challenging notions of both sex and gender with his gravelly-almost-snarling delivery of lines like, “I’ll be more woman than a man like you can stand.”
  • The Breeders’ “Wicked Little Town” — The subtle guitar work and Kim Deal’s quiet, raspy vocals make this song a very beautiful, intimate encounter with The Breeders.
  • The Polyphonic Spree’s “Wig in a Box” — This track is probably the best match of material to artist. The theatrics and ostentation of the lyrics perfectly complement The Spree’s grandiose musical arrangements.

Honorable mentions include Rufus Wainwright’s “The Origin of Love,” Spoon’s “Tear Me Down,” Yoko Ono & Yo La Tengo’s “Hedwig’s Lament/Exquisite Corpse,” Ben Kweller & Ben Folds’ “Wicked Little Town (Tommy Gnosis version),” and Cyndi Lauper & The Minus 5’s “Midnight Radio.”

The new material by Robyn Hitchcock and John Cameron Mitchell is probably the biggest disappointment. And while Bob Mould’s clubby, dance take on “Nailed” is a fun enough cover, it completely strips the song of its eroticism.

More of this album works than doesn’t, and it’s a must-buy for Hedwig fans and indie-music lovers alike.

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