Music Reviews

Wig in a Box

Songs From and Inspired by Hedwig and the Angry Inch


Ranking even lower than the soundtrack on the Useless Compilation Scale is the benefit album. It’s usually the prime opportunity for bands to trot out live versions of marginal album tracks, c-sides and botched remixes. Often the only thing saving them from the critical wrecking ball is the “charity” issue. It’s hard to tear apart a disc when you know that any money being made on it benefits a worthy cause. Thankfully, Wig in a Box is an anomaly: a good cause, good bands and good songs.

Fifteen of the album’s sixteen tracks were written by Hedwig co-creator Stephen Trask, giving the disc a level of cohesiveness most benefit albums don’t have a chance of attaining. Seemingly disparate artists like The Polyphonic Spree and Frank Black are given a similar base to create their arrangements around. The complete roster is indie A-list all the way: The Breeders, Bob Mould, Yoko One & Yo La Tengo, Spoon, Rufus Wainwright, Jonathan Richman, Sleater-Kinney & Fred Schneider, etc. Even Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert contributes a spoken word piece. Trask and Hedwig director/star John Cameron Mitchell add the new dark and glammy “origin” song “Milford Lake” to their musical canon.

The proceeds of the album go to the Hetrick-Martin Institute (home of the Harvey Milk School), which, according to the accompanying press release, “is devoted to the educational needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.” It’s certainly an under recognized organization that isn’t likely to get assistance from many circles outside of this, so go on and buy it already.

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