Author: Bruce Jenkins  Date Posted:12 April 2024 


Do you remember the cover of The Lemonheads sixth studio album? It featured three film-strip panels, frontman Evan Dando in the centre and the other two—what were their names?—partially visible either side. In bold yellow and red capital letters the text called out Come On Feel The Lemonheads; simultaneously ironic and pleading. Dando, infused with moody surfer cool, stared off to the left. The stills all have a blue-purple tint; in the bottom frame Dando is out of focus. If you had the album when it came out in 1993 you are probably humming the hit single "Into Your Arms" right now. It was The Lemonheads biggest hit, but far from the only great song on the album. Perhaps you culled your CDs in the early naughties as mp3 seemed like a space-saving way to go. Maybe you bought it again ten years later in the $5 section of a second-hand shop and played it in the car because that was the only CD player left. And when you discovered—or rediscovered—the old but somehow captivating format of vinyl records, maybe you lamented that albums from the Nineties—peak compact disc era—would probably never get onto the black stuff and grace the lovely turntable that you bought during lockdown.

Well rejoice! Come On Feel The Lemonheads has received a lavish 2LP re-issue by Fire Records. With the original album on one LP (red vinyl) and a goodly collection of rare/alternative/acoustic tracks on the other (yellow) it is the definitive vinyl version of the album. It even includes a download postcard. What it does not have is the original cover.

Who decided to change the photos and the layout of what was a popular and much loved album? Clearly the band must have approved, and to be clear, I think the new design is better. But it is odd and slightly disconcerting to find a band pic front and centre. Maybe that is what Evan Dando and his colleagues wanted. What is important is the music, and that shines.

From the charging pop-with-octane of "The Great Big No", Come On belts along with a buzzing energy and that louche Dando delivery. Yeah, we care, but nah, we’re not showing it. It is not all power pop fizz of course. The mostly acoustic "Paid To Smile" is a ballad about how tedious it is to be famous, a song lifted by some lovely harmonies. It’s followed by the country sway of "Big Gay Heart", another of the singles from the disc.

Sometimes it feels like Come On is a rag bag of different styles and moods held together by Dando’s melodious drawl. "Style" is druggy grunge (in both fast and slow versions), while "Rest Assured" is pure pop-punk in the Buzzcocks tradition. Then there’s the delightful whimsy of "Being Around", possibly one of the best non-love songs ever. Throw in a great duet with Belinda Carlisle (Go-Go’s) and you have a consistently entertaining record.

Evan Dando became prime tabloid fodder as he struggled with drugs and demons. In their review of this 30th anniversary re-issue, Pitchfork painted him as a "himbo bubblehead and under-appreciated power-pop savant, a privileged prep playacting as Gram Parsons, wannabe Gallagher brother, and tragicomic, troubled survivor." Harsh, but be that as it may, when you play Come On Feel The Lemonheads and you will soon discover what made you love them back then. If new to their indi delights, they could even become your new-old favourite band.


© Bruce Jenkins—April 2024

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