Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Way-back Wednesday

As I sit at my desk listening to the new self-titled Lemonheads record (which will hit stores Sept. 26), I can't help but think about the Evan Dando-led band's first major-label disc, "Lovey."

I have to say the upcoming record is the band's best since that 16-year-old disc. Who would have thought that Dando had it in him to write a good record when he wasn't smoking crack every hour or so? But that's just what he's done. And the funny thing about "Lovey" is that it was made before Dando starting messing with the rock, too.

Enough drug talk though; "Lovey" hit stores in the summer of 1990, before the grunge boom and before Dando was a Teen Beat idol when the band's cover of "Mrs. Robinson" became a minor hit. The Lemonheads never quite made the leap to full-fledged pop stars, probably because of a constantly rotating lineup and Dando's bad addictions. But, the group came close when "Into Your Arms" from 1993's "Come On Feel The Lemonheads" sniffed the pop charts.

When "Lovey" first arrived, Dando had just wrestled control of the band by basically ousting former high school friend and co-singer/songwriter Ben Deily. The record is a mash-up of all the things that make the band good: pop, punk, a love of Gram Parsons-like country (the record even includes a cover of the artist's "Brass Buttons") and Dando's emotive and assured voice.

And even though other discs have sold better, "Lovey" remains the band's best, a raw and messy trip that never disappoints or goes off track. Dando has never again written a song as good and catchy as "Year of the Cat," although "Pittsburgh" on this new disc comes close.

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