Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Lemonheads: Best band ever?
MP3: The Lemonheads - My Drug Buddy
MP3: The Lemonheads - Bit Part (demo)
I am not sure if I would consider myself a "child of the '90s" because I was very much in my youth at the time, but I was very aware of culture: I saw many movies released, read numerous comic books, watched a lot of television, had some cool toys and so on (I'm 23 if you're trying to do math right now). However, I wasn't much on top of current music. Other than listening to Neil Young cassettes in my folks' car, I only had my sister's changing tastes to rely on at the time. This was how I found grunge, Weezer and rock and roll in general, but she also didn't delve too deep. I had to find my Pavement and Afghan Whigs albums all by myself later on.
So I didn't come to the Lemonheads' "It's A Shame About Ray" until the 00's. Sure, I had heard their "Mrs. Robinson" version in "Wayne's World 2" and heard many bands cover them, but it wasn't until meeting certain friends that caused me to track down a used copy of the lp and give it a try. Immediately, I understood what the fuss was about.
While every single Lemonheads album is fantastic and worth picking up, "Ray" is just so connectible, catchy and brilliant from song to song, it's very certainly one of those rare perfect albums that will stick with you until your death. This still counts on this expanded edition (thank god), which adds not-so-hard-to-find b-side "Shaky Ground" and a collection of unreleased demo versions of your favourite songs. On these demos, Evan Dando sounds at his most honest and intimate, fuzzing through the speakers directly to your side sharing his stories with just himself and guitar for you to listen. "My Drug Buddy" sounds like he just scored and is returning to your living room to tell you all about what went down on King St. and in the phone booth. But perhaps he is most effective on "Bit Part", minus the rock and introductory desperation courtesy of Polly Noonan but still with pal Juliana Hatfield on backing vocals, taking it down a notch to try to find "a bit part in your life", something so subtle but absolutely fucking perfect of life that you can't help but cheer for him.
However, these demos do not change the dynamic of this classic album: Alison is still starting to happen, and there are still plenty more rockin' strolls to enjoy. They merely serve and succeed as supplementary material to make you adore and appreciate an already flawless old friend. Is it worth shelling out $25 for an album you probably/hopefully already own? Well yes, if not just for the expansive liner notes and (for the first time on) dvd version of "Two Weeks In Australia", then for a chance to revisit a chunk of nostalgia and hear it with fresh ears and an updated outlook.
It's worth a damn. A big damn. I would go as far to say that on the right day, "It's A Shame About Ray" is my favourite record ever. Now where is the vinyl reissue?