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splendid > reviews > 11/3/2003
Various Artists
Various Artists
Wig in a Box: Songs from and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Off


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Jonathan Richman's "The Origin of Love (reprise)""

Buy me now
A charity album benefiting the Hetrick-Martin Institute (and the attendant Harvey Milk School), a multi-service organization dedicated to serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, Wig in a Box: Songs from and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch marks the zenith of the Hedwig explosion. A bona fide cult classic in the vein of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, this transgendered tale of unbridled resentment, covetousness and splendor smashes socio-cultural barriers, and has therefore earned fans from all walks of life.

A joint partnership between Hedwig creators James Cameron Mitchell and Steven Trask and Off Records honcho Chris Slusarenko, Wig in a Box brings out the crème of the underground rock in support of the cause, recasting songs from the original soundtrack in their own likeness(es). Rufus Wainwright transforms "The Origin of Love" into a spectral psychedelic torch song, replete with stammering wah-wah guitars and libidinous interludes. Frank Black's "Sugar Daddy" is neck-deep in skeletal Delta blues fervor, and the Polyphonic Spree's rendition of the title track is a glorious sunburst chorale, filled with decadent brass and colossal peaks and valleys. In addition to the brilliant lineup of solo performers, odd pairings abound: Sleater-Kinney and the B-52s' Fred Schneider team-up for a snarling version of "Angry Inch", Cyndi Lauper and the Minus 5 get together on the swaying "Midnight Radio", and most fittingly, Yo La Tengo collaborate with Yoko Ono (!) on a an appropriately funereal reading of "Hedwig's Lament/Exquisite Corpse". Furthermore, Cameron-Mitchell and Trask contribute a new track, "Ladies & Gentlemen", while the packaging and liner notes feature new artwork by original Hedwig illustrator Emily Hubley.

More than a collection of great artists gathered together for a worthy cause, Wig in a Box's diverse array of talent represents the full aural spectrum. There's a little something for everybody hidden within this mysterious box.



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