CD Shakedown header

Get the Led Out (March 6,1998)

Peter Case, Full Service, No Waiting (Vanguard 1998) - Veteran singer and songwriter Peter Case has released his sixth solo album, Full-Service, No Waiting. Now backed by a solid roots band, the new album develops the blues and Americana themes previously explored by Case. new

It's unfair to measure Case against his early 80's band, The Plimsouls, which released only two LP's, but enjoyed the hit single, "A Million Miles Away." Case has been recording as a solo artist since 1986, and has worked with Vanguard Recordings since 1993. His initial Vanguard release, Sings Like Hell (1984) was more memorable for its title than its sparse, acoustic folk and blues songs as "Matchbox Blues" and "Rovin' Gambler."

Full Service, No Waiting takes advantage of some of L.A.'s top studio musician, including Greg Leisz on steel guitar and dobro, Lili Hayden on violin, and Don Heffington on percussion.

The 11 tracks were influenced by Case's experiences on the road with Tom Russell and Dave Alvin in support of "Tulare Dust," the Merle Haggard tribute album on which Case sang "Working Man's Blues." Which is to say, Case mixes an old-timey feel with blues and roots rock to develop a solid sound. Featured tracks include "Let Me Fall," and "Honey Child," both of which are built around Case's solid vocals.

If you dig roots rock, Full Service, No Waiting will bring home the bacon.

Interscope Records - During the past couple years, several notable indie record companies have folded, including American Records and Slash Records. But Interscope Records, headed by Ted Fields and Jimmie Iovine, has enjoyed great success with such bands as No Doubt and the Wallflowers.

How do they do it? Well, they've got one of the best publicity departments around: The label recognizes that today's music business is driven by singles, and stands behind its artists until the song breaks.

Case in point is Fushuyu Mang by Smash Mouth. Smash Mouth consists of Steve Harwell, on vocals, Gregory Camp on guitar and backing vocals, Paul DeLisle on bass and backing vocals, and Kevin Coleman on drums. The band features the punk-oriented ska sound that has become popular in southern California with such bands as Save Ferris.

Once again, the label has found the single, and is pushing the buttons - first "Walkin' the Sun," now "Why Can't We Be Friends?" I'm not crazy about all of Fushuyu Mang, but the singles are catchy. And the same was true for the Wallflowers - while I couldn't get into the album as a whole, the single (the rootsy, "One Headlight") was a solid track.

The music business is changing, and Interscope knows where its going. With its proven ability to break a single, most acts would be delighted to sign with Interscope.

Led Zeppelin, BBC Sessions (Atlantic 1997) - BBC Sessions is a double-disk collection of live radio performances recorded by Led Zeppelin early in their career. If you like the early Led Zeppelin, then this 2 hour set (which features tracks from their first four albums) will light your fire.

Led Zeppelin was one of the 70's biggest rock bands, featuring Jimmy Page on guitar, Robert Plant on vocals, John Paul Jones on bass, and the late John "Bonzo" Bonham on drums. BBC Sessions (recorded between 1969 and 1971) highlights the band's development from blues-rock to power-rock.

Disk 1 contains selections from live studio sets recorded on March 3, 1969 (broadcast March 23), June 16, 1969 (broadcast June 22), and June 24, 1969 (broadcast June 29), and a June 27, 1969 live show at the Playhouse Theater (broadcast August 10).

While the earliest recordings (including "You Shook Me") are slow, bluesy numbers, the later sessions preview the rock-steady Led Zeppelin that fans came to love, including "Dazed and Confused," "What Is and What Should Never Be," and "Whole Lotta Love."

In addition, Disk 1 features three different versions of "Communication Breakdown," that highlight the improvisational strength of Led Zeppelin - same song, all three minutes long, yet each with a distinct flavor.

The second disk was recorded on April 1, 1971 for John Peel's "BBC Rock Hour." The hour-plus performance includes versions of "Black Dog," "Going to California," and the first-ever broadcast of "Stairway to Heaven," all released eight months later on the famous fourth album (also known as Zofo).

What surprised me (apart from cherubic pictures on the cover) is how integral each member was to the band. Just when you start thinking how great Jimmy Page sounds, in comes Robert "I was the King of Cock Rock" Plant on vocals, only to be followed by Bonzo on drums. Led Zeppelin was the rarest of bands - outstanding both in the studio and on stage. For a good complement to their studio recordings, get BBC Sessions.

- Randy Krbechek © 1998

Check CD Shakedown for Weekly
Reviews of Music CDs and New Albums