Derik Badman's Journal

2022-04-11 08:20

Music I've been listening to...

It's a Shame About Ray (30th Anniversary Edition), Lemonheads

If I were to make some kind of desert island record list, this would be on it. Not something I ever really stopped listening to, but now there is a new edition. I listen to a lot of music that is older than 30 years, but there's not a lot of it I've been listening to since it came out (Sonic Youth's Dirty is another one from the same year). I remember buying the original version of this album back when it came out. I know it was the early pressing of it, because my CD copy lacked the later addition of the "Mrs. Robinson" cover that was added to the album after it became a hit. Back in 1992 I was too young to drive (turning 16 only at the very end of the year), I bought this album at a nearby, small (and now defunct) mall in a store that at the time was I think still called "Listening Booth". I can still remember the circular bright orange stickers that declared the sale prices on new albums (which at the time still meant vinyl, in addition to CDs and cassettes). Vinyl was $6.99, I think CDs were $9.99. I got the CD of this, probably driven there by my dad, probably after our weekly visit to the comic shop in a strip mall next to the mall. When I got home, I put the CD on my older brother's stereo system and played it on repeat the whole night while I played some game on the computer setup in the same room (was that still the Commodore 64 at that time, I'm not sure). The whole album (in the original edition) clocks in at just under 30 minutes, so you can get through it a lot of times in one evening.

And I never really stopped listening to it. It's been a near constant companion of the intervening 30 years. As my tastes shifted about in different ways, this is one album I never got rid of, I never left behind, I never didn't have (a bit later) ripped into my computer. I know all the lyrics, except "Ceiling Fan in My Spoon" which I've never quite bothered to learn, and when I played guitar, I had the official guitar book and learned to play a lot of the songs.

I'm not sure I can even account for why. The songs are light, poppy, shifting between folky acoustic and power pop, with love songs and melancholy songs and humor and absurdity, a little bit of everything. None of the songs stick around too long (though it gets close on those last repetitions in "Rudderless"). Most of them have a specificity to them that feels very personal to the writers (ever present Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando shares writing credits on many songs and didn't write a few of them), but also presents more generalized emotions and situations for one to empathize or relate to. There are wonderful turns of phrases throughout (I should have an example or to here), and the whole thing is eminently sing-a-long-able.

There was a remastered 25th edition (called the "expanded edition") back in 2017, that I avoided getting for a long time, as it really just added 9 demo versions of the albums 13 songs. This latest edition goes further in completing the picture of the bands recordings at the time, adding a few B-Sides and live tracks to the album plus demos package. Nothing surprising, especially if you already have the singles or other bootlegs (yes, I'm a big enough fan that at some point years ago I got 2 bootlegs of Lemonheads B-sides/live/covers/etc.). Probably not really worth it just for the extra materials, but for an album I've gotten so much enjoyment from it felt important to support the band and the label (Fire Archive) who have rereleased all the bands previous albums (here's hoping there's a 30th edition of Come On Feel the Lemonheads next year).