The Lemonheads' It's a Shame About Ray isn't necessarily one of those Nevermind-esque records that's going to be lauded decennially or vigintennially so that fledgling, snot-nosed music critics who missed the boat the first time around can make you feel old. Firstly, Ray was a child of '92, and Rhino Records already gave the album a deluxe re-release back in 2008. So the fact that we're even discussing this is either jumping the gun or beating everyone else to the punch on the double-decade facial that records like Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten are getting this year.
Unlike fellow slacker icon Kurt Cobain, head Lemon Evan Dando has lived to sing these tales again on a tour whose shows will celebrate his seminal record from start to finish. Ray is somewhere in the middle of the 'Heads' nine-disc catalog, and while harder-core fans will argue through various colors of the face whether it's their best, it is certainly their most commercially successful. And what do the oft-troubled, aging elder statesmen of alternative rock need right now more than money?
If this disc is already in your library, any description of it here is going to be reductive at best. If you haven't heard it, then you're probably never going to. Regardless, it rocks, rolls, weeps, sweeps, dips and dallies through (originally) 12 nearly flawless alterna-pop rock tracks about life, love, women, drugs and drug buddies. It doesn't have the booming Butch Vig production, fuzzed out guitar noise and loud-quiet-loud aesthetics that show the age of other early-'90s landmarks. Rather, it's a folky rock blend that defies the trends of its era and serves these timeless tunes well by not dating them. Well, not much, anyway. This thing still reeks gloriously of a '90s Gen-X slacker soundtrack.
Oh, and speaking of double-decade commemorations, Atlantic added The Lemonheads' cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" to the record shortly after its release to commemorate The Graduate's 20th birthday. And while it probably didn't inspire many Lemonheads fans to watch the film, the video's heavy rotation on MTV made them buy a hell of a lot more records.
The case is pretty similar here. Reissued copies of It's a Shame About Ray aren't exactly going to be flying off the merch table in a room full of fans who played it for the 3 millionth time on their way to the show. It's going to take more than a nostalgia tour to send a surge through iTunes that might restore this nugget of pop perfection to its rightful glory. It will, however, no doubt bring a mass exodus of current and former Gen-Xers out of their caves to get weepy-eyed and liquored up, lock arms and pine over this long-lost drug buddy — to pump fists and concur that a ship without a rudder is, indeed, a ship without a rudder. And while surely more than half the crowd has not and will never see any adaptation of the hit musical Hair, every word of the band's cover of "Frank Mills" will surely issue from the crowd and echo through Mercy Lounge.
yall forgot the 1st act : 7:45 - T. STRAIN.
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The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly