In the late ’80s to early ’90s there was an explosion of alternative music coming out of the US of A and some climbed to the top of the pile but they weren’t necessarily the best bands out there. Sure the early ’80s had the Husker Du’s and Replacements to trail blaze but of the late decade bands, I remember having a mixtape sent to me that had a lofi song from a bunch of punks called The Lemonheads the track as it goes was ‘I Don’t Wanna’ and it was easily the best track on the tape out of about 40 bands I didn’t take a great deal of notice until I heard ‘Lick’ and loved it along with the fantastic cover of ‘Luka’ but these records weren’t easy to track down in a small city in the UK. I remember seeing an interview with Evan Dando and being impressed with his slacker credentials and good looks. It must have been around the time of Lovey when they signed to a major and heading out to pick it up and loving it and the next two and a half major-label albums should have seen them trade against the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam because out of the three The Lemonheads threw up the best records for my ears.
Fast forward thirty fuckin’ years and the Re-Release of ‘Lovey’ in a big book like format with an impressive bound bunch of liner notes and a lavish reproduction of an 8 track session the band did in Australia for Triple J. but more of that later.
‘Lovey’ saw the band step back and trade in some of that feedback and rage for a gentler acoustic approach or mash-up as songs like the jangly ‘Half The Time’ saw Dando mix up the alternative punk with a power-pop more melodic set of songs with much more thought out vocals. Covering Gram Parsons and Big Star sort of set out the path he was taking. Maybe with one eye on the prize of international stardom and chart success whilst remaining true to his musical roots.
What’s not to like about the radio-friendly ‘Year of The Rat’ or the beautiful ‘Ride With Me’ there was always a fragility or a vulnerability to Dando’s voice and he used it to great effect from ‘Lovey’ on in. ‘Stove’ was always a live classic and more in keeping with what was to come with the smash album ‘Shame About Ray’ but this was certainly the forerunner.
They still had an edge and could kick out the jams when they wanted as they proved on the next few tracks ‘Come Downstairs’ and ‘Left For Dead’. It was then the wonderful take of Gram Parsons ‘Brass Buttons’ which they nailed by the way.
Worth a reissue on vinyl with a big book type set up? Sure it is what are the odds of ‘Shame About Ray’ getting the anniversary treatment along the same lines as this which would be very nice but, the real jewel here is the inclusion of the ‘Live At The Wireless’ sessions. Let’s face it The Lemonheads were always good on record but live they were awesome and this session is perfectly captured from the ‘Lick’ era opener of ‘Come Back D.A’ and the cover of Big Star ‘Nighttime’ and the misspelled download of ‘Year Of The Cat -Rat’ but the pick of the songs is the epic ‘Ride With Me’ followed up with a raucous ‘Die Right Now’. As much as I loved the Taang!! records they really hit their stride when they hit paydirt and that boys and girls started with ‘Lovey’ and even after 30 years its stood the test of time and remains a fantastic album
Deluxe CD Bookback – Pre-order link: Here
Deluxe 2xLP out today 24th October 2020 (Record Store Day)