POP MUSIC REVIEW : Garden Grove Singer's Talent Belies His Relative Obscurity : James Intveld proved himself ready for the prime time Saturday at Peppers Golden Bear with a rollicking 11-song set.

The music business has a lot to offer mystery-lovers, what with little industry perplexities such as, "How can bands have million-selling records and nothing to show for it?" and "How come it currently costs less to make a CD than an LP but the CD still retails for $5 more?"

One mystery particular to Orange County is, "How come the Garden Grove-raised James Intveld isn't a star and doesn't even have a recording contract?"

In an industry rife with clone-band tax writeoffs, one would think there's at least a little room for a performer as excellent, complete and distinctive as Intveld proved to be in his set opening for Jamie James at the new Peppers Golden Bear on Saturday.

While Intveld is following an entirely different course than Stockton-bred Chris Isaak, there are some comparisons that can be made between the two.

Intveld isn't yet as unique a stylist as Isaak, but both have a knack for taking early-roots rock influences and giving them their own timeless stamp. And like Isaak, Intveld, with his underfed James Dean looks, certainly has that video-ready quality the industry loves. The 30-year-old singer's only problem may be that he's been toiling for so long in the trendy Los Angeles scene that the industry now takes him for granted.

But Intveld certainly hasn't let a sense of inertia creep into his work.

Backed by a propulsive trio of bassist Greg Boaz, keyboardist Rick Solem and former X drummer D.J. Bonebrake, he delivered a shaking 11-song set Saturday.

Intveld's strongest suit is his songs. He has a fine knack for melding a raw rock sound--there are touches of everything from Gene Vincent to the Yardbirds--with a persuasive, hook-laden pop sensibility.

On his "Thinking About You," that combination resulted in an ebullient pop song that sounded somewhat like a grittier Traveling Wilburys. "Tracy," co-written with keyboardist Solem, mixed that pop surety with a strain of melancholy, while the Bo Diddley-beat "That's Me" was every bit as cocky and wild as its self-assertive chorus.

Though Intveld once needed a lead guitarist to properly flesh out his songs, these days he's got both rhythm and lead duties amply covered with his red Les Paul guitar.

His vocals had both an appealing reedy quality and enough power--especially on the ballad "Such a Lonely Night"--to convey his emotion above an overloud band mix that often obscured the actual lyrics.

It would be nice to say that his performance stunned the crowd, but a goodly number of people in the Bear only seemed to be there waiting for the post-show disco music to start up.

Although the new club appears to have the technical amenities down, its double-duty concert/disco setup may make it a difficult place in which to seriously appreciate music.

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