October 10, 2011

Real Talk About It's A Shame About Ray

Lemonheads -- It's A Shame About Ray
Lemonheads are one of our original top-five favorite bands, this you may know. But one thing we've never bothered articulating, because, you know, it's not that interesting, is that it took us months to come around on what is perhaps the band's most widely known record, It's A Shame About Ray, which was released in June 1992. Sure, we love the record NOW, but it took some time. It just wasn't the record we were expecting Lemonheads to make. Remember, 1992 is pre-Internet, and pre-"Live With Regis And Kathie Lee" information about the band wasn't all that easy to come by [LOLBOMBZ]. Everything we knew about Lemonheads was based on Lovey and Lick at that point (we hadn't yet purchased the rest of the back catalog). And so, in our minds, the template for the follow-up to Lemonheads' major label debut Lovey was that which, in our estimation, were the album's best tracks: "Ballarat," "Year Of The Cat" and "Stove." Heavier, electric and at times even slightly angular stuff. We perceived the country-tinged "Brass Buttons" and the down-beat "Ride With Me" to be sort of anomalous, not indications of what was to come. We were wrong.

But after we put it down for a while -- and perhaps even more so because we started spending a fair amount of time in New England in the fall, which is the perfect time of year for this record -- we turned on to Ray in a big way. Sure, the distorted and weird sounds of "Year Of The Cat" were not there, but Lovey's familiar, confused haze hung over the recordings, tinted with perhaps a more pronounced melancholy we were becoming more accustomed to in our undergrad years. So Ray eventually did become a favorite. Particularly all the songs with vocals from Juliana Hatfield. And, very specifically, "Rudderless," which features a call-and-response section where Hatfield monotones the line "tired of getting high," which for some reason even now resonates strongly with us. After you've been given the time and space to do everything you want to do and it's still not enough, what do you do? That's what the line conveys to us, anyway.

After enough interest to warrant a couple complete performances of Ray in 2005 at one of the All Tomorrow's Parties events in the UK, it probably seemed a like a good idea to take the record back out. And so Evan Dando and his latest iteration of Lemonheads are doing it this fall; the band plays Boston's Paradise Rock Club Wednesday night with support from The Shining Twins and New York Rivals. If you can believe what you read at Brooklyn Vegan, last night's show at Bowery Ballroom was, ummm, "sub-optimal." The band was slated to perform a second show there this evening, and has roughly two more months of Ray shows, so hopefully the kinks get worked out. As of Sunday night, there were still tickets for the Boston show available. Buy some right here, why don't you? Don't own Ray? Seriously?

1 comment:

Earley said...

I caught The Lemonheads at the Bowery Ballroom tonight. Pretty good show. The Ray catalog wasn't as polished as I hoped, but I enjoyed the show nonetheless. There were a few awkward moments throughout the set, but it was much smoother than last night's supposed disaster.