Peter Perrett

How the West Was Won

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The tale of Peter Perrett seemed destined for tragedy. After the glory of the Only Ones, the singer descended into a years-long battle with drug addiction that saw him surfacing for air regularly -- even releasing a very good album with his band the One in 2005 -- but then going back under, leaving fans to assume that they next time they heard his name, it would be in an obit. Luckily for all involved, Perrett cleaned up in the mid-2010s and got it together enough to record and release his first solo album. Working with his sons (guitarist Jamie and bassist Peter, Jr.) and producer Chris Kimsey, he's made an album that's not only a welcome return from a prodigal son, but also one that compares very favorably with those made during his time with the Only Ones. How the West Was Won is a witty, gutsy album built out of classic guitar rock bones and shot through with Perrett's hard-won wisdom and his offhanded, almost blasé, vocals, which sound almost exactly as they did in 1976, which is something of an achievement considering his hard living over the years. He snake-charms his way through melodies, tossing off casual asides and wringing emotion out of a simple twist of phrase or chilling reminiscence. The songs that hit hardest tell of years lost to drugs and the enduring love he feels for his wife of many years, Zena, who stuck by him through thin and thinner. His sons stuck by him, too, and Jamie proves to be the album's backbone as his guitar twangs, slashes, and burns through solos and riffs, providing all sorts of support for his old man. There are moments where it's easy to forgot that it's not an Only Ones album spinning, especially when they bust into a thrilling chorus like on "An Epic Story," lock into a low-key swagger ("Man of Extremes"), or melt hearts with mascara-dripping ballads ("C Voyeurger"). It's a thrilling match of classic punk ballad style, brilliant singing, and evocative songwriting that proves Perrett is really back this time, fully invested and in total charge of his life and music for the first time in years. How the West Was Won is not only a great album, it's also the inspiring, and inspired, story of how Perrett won his own life back.

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