Reissue Tuesday: Led Zeppelin … but really Juliana Hatfield

Reissue Tuesday: Led Zeppelin … but really Juliana Hatfield

By Tim Craig

Rhino reissued Led Zeppelin’s How the West Was Won March 23 in a beautiful 4LP, 3CD, DVD Audio Super Deluxe package that includes a book of rare, previous unpublished photos and a high-quality print of the album cover, the first 30,000 of which are individually numbered.

It’s great, of course. Originally released in 2003, the album features the band at the height of its 1973 powers, thundering through all the songs you’d expect (with a few notable exceptions … I’m looking at you, “Communication Breakdown”). It’s luxurious. It’s a “you-can’t-go-wrong”choice.

It’s also why I’m not really reviewing it.

The same day, small, indie label American Laudromat Records remastered and reissued Juliana Hatfield’s 1992 debut Hey Babe on vinyl. Mastered by Sean Glonek at SRG Studios from the original quarter-inch analog tapes, this limited-edition pressing was hand-pressed in Vermont.

From the opening jangle of “Everybody Loves Me But You”to the tongue-in-cheek angst of “Nirvana” to the melody of “No Answer,” Hey Babe has all of the hallmarks that have followed Hatfield throughout her career, from her start in Blake Babies through her time with The Lemonheads and through the 13 albums of her solo career.

Produced by Gary Smith (Pixies, Throwing Muses, Blake Babies), in 1992 for Mammoth Records, the album featured a heavy guest lineup that included Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), Evan Dando (The Lemonheads), John Wesley Harding and others. It is available in black or colored vinyl on the American Laundromat website.

Hey Babe is passionate, heartfelt, excellently no-frills indie rock. Created for a specific time and place, it still holds its own next to contemporary female indie releases. In that way, it is similar to How the West Was Won, but wholly different.

How the West Was Won is Starbucks; a known quantity that is an industry-leading staple of your day. Hey Babe is the local coffee shop; it serves up the same product, but with a quirk and flair all its own.

Quick Look Ahead: Out on April 6 — Forever Changes, Love. The 50th Anniversary Reissue.