I have said it before, Grunge and the British Invasion did more for music than anything else. Both introduced us to bands we otherwise would never have heard and kept them from being relegated to local club obscurity or they would have remained underground struggling to exist in the mercenary world of big labels and 80’s hair bands. For goodness sake people we could still be listening to Warrant and liking it.
Bands and artists began popping up everywhere in the early 90’s and many had been around putting out albums for a few years. Some would have a single moment of glory, one great song and others would have a great album with a few. Others would put out multiple albums and their fame would last, at least for a while. Some are still popular today. There would be horrific deaths from suicide and drug addiction which would damage rock and roll and actually make labels fear signing bands from Seattle. No one wanted to sign the next tragedy.
At first glance or even a second look the Lemonheads might not be a big band to you. I came across them the way I have come across a lot of bands I love; completely by accident. I bought It’s a Shame About Ray shortly after it was released. I had no idea what they sounded like, who they were. They had yet to have a big hit on the radio. In fact the first song of I heard on the radio was Confetti which is on that album but they had a bigger hit song, a cover of Mrs. Robinson which was not on the original release but added to the album after it became a hit. It’s a Shame About Ray was not the band’s first album. This band from Boston had struggled mostly being heard on college radio and then Grunge happened and opened the door to any band anywhere alternative.
In the beginning the band was about three guys but it quickly centered around only one, Evan Dando. Dando was the principal song writer, the singer. Dando has a quirky, free spirited, fun loving personality which you can hear in his songs, in the interviews with him. He was always smiling. The songs are quirky, Confetti, Rudderless, Alison’s Starting to Happen and the title track. It’s a Shame About Ray brought Dando instant rock stardom and he seemed perfect for the roll, still does. Rock and roll has always had characters and Dando fit that mold. He freely admitted to liking drugs but denied having any problem. Eventually he would. There was also the quirky relationship with Julianna Hatfield. Were they a couple or were they not? Both denied it, saying they were just friends, collaborators. Turns out, that’s exactly what they were, friends and remain so to this day.
The Lemonheads followed up on the success of It’s a Shame About Ray with the album Come On Feel and it paid immediate dividends with the song Into Your Arms and follow up singles Big Gay Heart and the Great Big No. Both albums are the very height of their popularity. Dando had it all, great personality, free spirit, good looks and one hell of a great singing voice. He has the perfect range that rock singers dream about.
In 1997 the Lemonheads, aka Evan Dando went on hiatus. There had been declining album sales and the toll of the road, drugs and everything that came with rock stardom just reached a breaking point. In 2006 Dando came back and has put out a few more Lemonheads records. He is a wonderful performer whether you see the band or just him in an acoustic setting.
There are a lot of reasons why I post and share the music I listen to. There are a lot of reasons why I blog on a select group of them. Believe it or not, selecting topics for me to write about is something I think about a great deal. I really enjoy reminding you about bands you may have forgotten about, or introducing you to bands you may have never heard. To me, that’s one of the real joys of music and collecting it and why I don’t just stick the things I have in a closet. I play everything I own. Some I hate (Zappa) some I love like the Lemonheads. They were an important band to me and I can remember driving around with my mom and listening to it with her because she always listened to the music I was listening to. Listening to It’s a Shame About Ray makes me feel good every time it comes around. I have nothing but fun, fond memories of that time and of that band.
So if you have never heard of them before or if you are not sure or can’t remember, buckle up. If you don’t like them, oh well at least I don’t have 10 albums of their music you will have to slog through.
I give you The Lemonheads