Originally released on the now defunct Zero Hour label in 1998, John Wesley Harding’s Awake was reissued by Appleseed in 2001 in remastered form and with five bonus tracks, one of them an exclusive live acoustic duet between Harding and Bruce Springsteen on the Boss’s “Wreck on the Highway” recorded in 1994. There’s also a studio rendition of Springsteen’s “Jackson Cage” among the bonus cuts.
The CD presents “Wes” at his provocative best, performing songs of sharp intelligence, wit and originality. Co-produced by power pop/alt.country artist Chris von Sneidern, Awake: The New Edition includes studio versions of such longtime Harding concert favorites as “Window Seat,” “Burn,” “Something to Write Home About,” and “Miss Fortune.” The latter song was to inspire Harding’s first novel, 2005’s Misfortune, and the formation of the Love Hall Tryst quartet of Harding and friends to record Songs of Misfortune, the subsequent a cappella CD of songs inspired by the book.
Among the guest musicians on Awake are von Sneidern, auxiliary REM multi-instrumentalist Scott McCaughey (and other members of his Young Fresh Fellows and Minus 5 bands), the increasingly popular alt.country/noir-rock solo artist Chuck Prophet on lead guitar on three songs, and in-demand session keyboardist Robert Lloyd.