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The Lemonheads

The Lemonheads' evolution from post-Hüsker Dü hardcore punk rockers to teenage heartthrobs is one of the strangest sagas in alternative music. Initially, the group was a punk-pop trio formed by three teenage Boston suburbanites, but over the years, the band became a vehicle for Evan Dando. Blessed with good looks and a warm, sweet voice, Dando became a teen idol in the early '90s, when Nirvana's success made alternative bands commercially viable. While his simple, catchy songs were instantly accessible, they tended to hide the more subversive nature of his lyrics, as well as his gift for offbeat covers and his devotion to country-rock father Gram Parsons. After developing his signature blend of pop, punk, and country-rock on several independent records in the late '80s, Dando moved the Lemonheads to Atlantic Records in 1990. Two years later, It's a Shame About Ray made the group into media sensations, as Dando's face appeared on music and teen magazines across America and Britain. Though the Lemonheads were poised to become superstars, the band never quite found the right breakthrough single, and their popularity peaked in the early '90s. Around the same time, Dando descended into severe drug abuse that he curbed by the 1996 release of Car Button Cloth. However, he had missed his chance at stardom -- though the group retained their cult, much of their audience had already slipped away.

The son of a Boston attorney and a fashion model, Evan Dando (vocals, guitar, drums) formed the Lemonheads with his high-school classmates Ben Deily (vocals, guitar, drums) and Jesse Peretz (bass). Initially, the group was called the Whelps, but by the time the band made their debut EP, Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners, they had changed their name to the Lemonheads. Recorded the day after their high-school graduation, Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners was released on the group's own label, Huh-Bag. The EP gained the attention of the Boston-based indie label Taang!, which signed the band later that same year. By the beginning of 1987, Doug Trachten had become the band's full-time drummer, leaving Dando and Deily to share guitar and vocal duties. Hate Your Friends, a speedy hardcore LP that fell halfway between Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, was released in 1987. Trachten left after the record's release, and the band made 1988's Creator with Blake Babies drummer John Strohm.

Released in 1989, Lick expanded the Lemonheads' cult, thanks to a loud power pop cover of Suzanne Vega's "Luka." Following the release of Lick, Deily split and eventually formed the Pods and then Varsity Drag. Dando briefly played with the Blake Babies before forming a new version of the Lemonheads with drummer David Ryan. The Lemonheads signed with Atlantic Records in 1990, releasing Lovey, their most accomplished, melodic, and eclectic record to date, later that year. Dando's interest in the band began to wander the following year, as he recorded the solo EP Favorite Spanish Dishes. In 1992, he recorded It's a Shame About Ray, which featured Blake Baby Juliana Hatfield on bass and harmony vocals.

It's a Shame About Ray would prove to be the Lemonheads' breakthrough album, but it didn't become a hit until a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" was added to the album several months after its initial release. By the end of 1992, the record had gained momentum, and Dando was being touted as the next alternative star. By the fall release of 1993's Come on Feel the Lemonheads, Dando had become a minor celebrity, appearing in gossip columns frequently and hanging out with fellow Gen-X icons, including actors like Johnny Depp and musicians like Hole's Courtney Love. His fame was large enough to spark the creation of an anti-Dando fanzine, I Hate Evan Dando. Recorded with the band's new bassist Nic Dalton, Come on Feel was hyped as the album that would make the band superstars, but Dando's antics received more press than the record received airplay, even though "Into Your Arms" nearly scraped the pop charts. During the press junket to promote the album, he confessed to heavy use of hard drugs, including an escapade where he smoked enough crack to ruin his voice for several weeks. His addiction deepened throughout 1994, and he was frequently seen in a drug-induced haze on Oasis' fall tour of Britain. Early in 1995, he launched a solo tour of the U.S. with Epic Soundtracks, after which he played the Glastonbury Festival, where he was booed for appearing several hours late.

Dando sobered up during the remaining months of 1995, though he hadn't completely stopped drinking by the time he recorded Car Button Cloth with a new lineup of the Lemonheads featuring former Dinosaur Jr. drummer Murph, guitarist John Strohm, and bassist Bill Gibson. The album was greeted with mixed reviews upon its fall 1996 release and failed to generate a hit single; furthermore, Dando launched no full-scale tour to support the album. Late the following year, the Lemonheads and Atlantic Records parted ways; Atlantic retained the rights for a greatest-hits album, which was released in mid-1998.

With the Lemonheads essentially broken-up, Dando kept a fairly low-profile in the years directly following the split from Atlantic. He reappeared for a solo tour in 2001 and then released the lowkey solo album Baby I'm Bored in 2003. Three years later, Dando had reunited the Lemonheads and in 2006 the band released a self-titled album that, while not a revelation, certainly sounded like a worthy follow-up to It's a Shame About Ray and Car Button Cloth. In 2009, inspired by years of mixtapes given to Dando by his friend and Butthole Surfers-leader Gibby Haynes, the Lemonheads released the covers album Varshons. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The 90's Studio Album Collection

Disc 1

1. Ballarat

2. Half The Time

3. Year Of The Cat

4. Ride With Me

5. Li'l Seed

6. Stove

7. Come Downstairs

8. Left For Dead

9. Brass Buttons

10. [The] Door

11. [Untitled]

Disc 2

1. Rockin Stroll

2. Confetti

3. It's A Shame About Ray

4. Rudderless

5. My Drug Buddy

6. The Turnpike Down

7. Bit Part

8. Alison's Starting To Happen

9. Hannah And Gabi

10. Kitchen

11. Ceiling Fan In My Spoon

12. Frank Mills

13. Mrs. Robinson

Disc 3

1. The Great Big No

2. Into Your Arms

3. It's About Time

4. Down About It

5. Paid To Smile

6. Big Gay Heart

7. Style

8. Rest Assured

9. Dawn Can't Decide

10. I'll Do It Anyway

11. Rick James Style

12. Being Around

13. Favorite T

14. You Can Take It With You

15. Jello Fund

Disc 4

1. It's All True

2. If I Could Talk I'd Tell You

3. Break Me

4. Hospital

5. The Outdoor Type

6. Losing Your Mind

7. Something's Missing

8. Knoxville Girl

9. 6IX

10. C'mon Daddy

11. One More Time

12. Tenderfoot

13. Secular Rockulidge

x

Track List: If Only You Were Dead

1. Mod Lang

2. Uhhh (1987, Live On Wers)

3. Belt (1987, Live On Wers)

4. 394 (1987, Live On Wers)

5. Not True/Glad I Don't Know (1987, Live On Wers)

6. Falling (1987, Live On Wers)

7. Don't Tell Yourself (1987, Live On Wers)

8. Sunday (1987, Live On Wers)

9. I Like To (1987, Live On Wers)

10. Sad Girl (1987, Live On Wers)

11. Amazing Grace (1987, Live On Wers)

12. Rat Velvet (1987, Live On Wers)

13. Second Chance (1987, Live On Wers)

14. Sneakyville (1987, Live On Wers)

15. So I F**ked Up (1987, Live On Wers)

16. Sick Of You (1987, Live On Wers)

17. Hate Your Friends (1987, Live On Wers)

18. Sad Girl (Crawling From Within Compilation)

19. Cease To Exist (1988, Live Wers)

20. Burying Ground (1988, Live Wers)

21. If Only You Were Dead (Early Mallo Cup) (1988, Live Wers)

22. Out (1988, Live On Wers)

23. N.I.B. (1988, Live On Wers)

24. Clang Bang Clang (1988, Live Wers)

25. Take Her Down (1988, Live Wers)

26. Falling (1988, Live Wers)

27. Instrumental (1988, Live On Wers)

28. From Here To Burma (1988, Live On Wers)

x

Track List: Favorite Spanish Dishes

1. Different Drum

2. Paint

3. Ride With Me

4. Step By Step

5. Skulls

x

Track List: Hotel Sessions

1. Big Gay Heart (Demo)

2. Great Big No (Demo)

3. Paid To Smile (Demo)

4. It's About Time (Demo)

5. Style (Demo)

6. I'll Do It Anyway (Demo)

7. Rest Assured (Demo)

8. You Can Take It With You (Pt 2) (Demo)

9. Down About It (Demo)

10. Into Your Arms (Demo)

11. Superhero (Demo)

12. And So The Story Goes (Demo)

13. Being Around (Demo)

14. You Can Take It With You (Pt 1) (Demo)

x

Track List: Varshons

1. I Just Can't Take It Anymore

2. Fragile

3. Layin' Up With Linda

4. Waiting Around To Die

5. Green Fuz

6. Yester Love

7. Dirty Robot (Feat. Kate Moss)

8. Dandelion Seeds

9. Mexico

10. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye (Feat. Liv Tyler)

11. Beautiful

x

Track List: Lovey

1. Ballarat

2. Half The Time

3. Year Of The Cat

4. Ride With Me

5. Li'l Seed

6. Stove

7. Come Downstairs

8. Left For Dead

9. Brass Buttons

10. (The) Door

11. (Untitled)

x

Track List: It's A Shame About Ray (Expanded Edition)

1. Rockin Stroll

2. Confetti

3. It's A Shame About Ray

4. Rudderless

5. My Drug Buddy

6. The Turnpike Down

7. Bit Part

8. Alison's Starting To Happen

9. Hannah And Gabi

10. Kitchen

11. Ceiling Fan In My Spoon

12. Frank Mills

13. Mrs. Robinson

14. Shaky Ground

15. It's A Shame About Ray

16. Rockin Stroll (Demo Version)

17. My Drug Buddy

18. Hannah And Gabi

19. Kitchen

20. Bit Part

21. Rudderless

22. Ceiling Fan In My Spoon

23. Confetti

x

Track List: Lemonheads

1. Black Gown

2. Become the Enemy

3. Pittsburgh

4. Let's Just Laugh

5. Poughkeepsie

6. Rule Of Three

7. No Backbone

8. Baby's Home

9. In Passing

10. Steve's Boy

11. December

12. Black Gown (Acoustic)

13. Let's Just Laugh (Acoustic)

x

Track List: The Best Of The Lemonheads - The Atlantic Years

1. Confetti

2. Rudderless

3. Into Your Arms

4. It's A Shame About Ray

5. Mrs. Robinson

6. My Drug Buddy

7. It's About Time

8. Big Gay Heart

9. If I Could Talk I'd Tell You

10. The Great Big No

11. It's All True

12. Ride With Me

x

Track List: Car Button Cloth

1. It's All True

2. If I Could Talk I'd Tell You

3. Break Me

4. Hospital

5. The Outdoor Type

6. Losing Your Mind

7. Something's Missing

8. Knoxville Girl

9. 6IX

10. C'mon Daddy

11. One More Time

12. Tenderfoot

13. Secular Rockulidge

x

Track List: Come On Feel The Lemonheads

1. The Great Big No

2. Into Your Arms

3. It's About Time

4. Down About It

5. Paid To Smile

6. Big Gay Heart

7. Style

8. Rest Assured

9. Dawn Can't Decide

10. I'll Do It Anyway

11. Rick James Style

12. Being Around

13. Favorite T

14. You Can Take It With You

15. The Jello Fund

x

Track List: It's A Shame About Ray

1. Rockin' Stroll

2. Confetti

3. It's A Shame About Ray

4. Rudderless

6. The Turnpike Down

7. Bit Part

8. Alison's Starting To Happen

9. Hannah & Gabi

10. Kitchen

11. Ceiling Fan In My Spoon

12. Frank Mills

13. Mrs. Robinson

x

Track List: Lick

1. Mallo Cup

2. Glad I Don't Know

3. 7 Powers

4. A Circle Of One

5. Cazzo Di Ferro

6. Anyway

7. Luka

8. Come Back D.A.

9. I Am A Rabbit

10. Sad Girl

11. Ever

12. Strange

13. Mad

x

Track List: I Just Can't Take It Anymore (Radio Single)

1. I Just Can't Take It Anymore

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