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Varshons

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 23, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

It makes sense that the new album from The Lemonheads feels like a cool mix tape slipped to you by a music-obsessed friend anxious to turn you on to something new.

VARSHONS was produced by Haynes, mixed by ex-Cornershop guru Anthony Saffrey, and features Dando along with Vess Ruhtenburg (bass) and Devon Ashley (drums). The collection is filled with strange bedfellows - from G.G. Allin to Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt and garage rockers The Green Fuz. The Lemonheads make each track their own, with help from actress Liv Tyler, singing back up on Leonard Cohen s Hey, That s No Way To Say Goodbye, and Kate Moss, who sings over the dance groove of Arling & Cameron s Dirty Robot, Also featured on lead guitar and backing vocals throughout most of the album is John Perry, on loan from The Only Ones.

Filled with obscure nuggets, the tracks on VARSHONS cut a wide swath, jumping from early British psychedelic to Dutch electronica and like all good mix tapes, you never know what is coming next.

Review

Dando does his dulcet-throated slacker-frontman thing as winningly as ever, which ought to set aquiver the panties of Gen X gals everywhere. --Rolling Stone
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 23, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: The End Records
  • ASIN: B001Q4MW5A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,072 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rudolph Klapper on June 24, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Evan Dando has always been the kind of bandleader to do things his own way - after gaining fame with their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," he not only became the most famous thing about the band through his nouveau-celebrity antics (befriending Oasis, hanging out with Courtney Love, various other career killers), but he also managed to sabotage the band's relatively short career with his crack addiction. It wasn't until 2005 that Dando assembled a new lineup to continue on the name and a new record, one that was a pure blast of enjoyable guitar-based alternative.

It's not exactly weird, then, for Dando to throw away everything that worked on his last effort to reshuffle the deck for this year's Varshons, a covers album with a whole new group of Lemonheads. Several, actually - it's not uncommon for a whole different band to play one song and another fresh group to take on another. Gone is The Lemonheads retro-`90s rock, replaced by Dando's fondness for down-tempo country-rock, spearheaded by producer Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers) and the close friends' affection for obscure songs.

The great thing about the covers here, though, is that they're not "Mrs. Robinson" - that is, the average music fan will not know all or even half of the tunes chosen here, making Varshons the professional studio equivalent of those cool mix tapes your friend might make from time to time, except with Dando's weathered vocals and country bent. Amazingly or not, this combination manages to transform every song into what comes off as a fully formed Lemonheads record.

Opener "I Just Can't Take It Anymore" is a perfect example of how this experiment works to the Lemonheads advantage.
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Generally speaking, can I give an album of all cover versions 5 stars, especially when I haven't heard many of the original versions of these songs? I don't know, but with that caveat, and taking it for granted that Evan has added something original to his versions of these songs, I give the album 5 stars. (I must confess, if I hadn't known these were cover songs, I would have thought Evan wrote them, they seem like a natural fit for him).
I love most of this album. It might get a little lethargic in the middle, but generally speaking it's got great songs. My favorite tracks are (in order of greatness) "Beautiful", "New Mexico", "Layin Up With Linda", "I Just Can't Take It Anymore", "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye", and "Dirty Robot". (I don't agree with the other reviews, I think that song is good). I consider "Yesterlove" and "The Green Fuz", the weaker tracks.
All in all, an excellent album. (But the liner notes on the inside of the CD are too small. Either that or I am too old).
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Format: Audio CD
The Lemonheads was and always will be Evan Dando, and that's what we get with Varshons. The supporting players don't matter all that much as it's Dando's show. Varshons is a really mix of oddities, but in a generally good way. Dando & company are on familiar ground doing all covers, albeit more obscure ones than we're used to (i.e., Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson and Suzanne Vega's Luka).

There are some serious high notes here, particularly I Just Can't Take It Anymore (Gram Parsons), Layin' Up With Linda (GG Allin) and Waiting Around To Die (the great Townes Van Zandt). And there's low notes too, especially the ill advised Dirty Robot, featuring Kate Moss. Not good. Not good at all.

Overall, I am glad to see Dando back in form. He's a bit older and maybe a bit wiser, and he still sounds great. While Varshons isn't on par with It's A Shame About Ray, my favorite Lemonheads release, it still ranks high and is a nice addition to their catalog, although I'm not sure it's a good starting place for a listener completely new to the Lemonheads. For fans or those who are wondering what Dando's been up to, it's worth a spin.
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I have followed the LEMONHEADS for all their history and I found this release to be an interesting alternative sound from them. Had to get it. Always will be a huge fan of this band. Love Evan Dando. If your new to this band I would try starting with say "Come on feel The Lemondeads" or "Car button cloth" or ofcourse "It's a shame about ray". But it really is hard to go wrong with any release from this band, I would just start with a different album other than one made with covers, this one.
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What a great album! -Dando and a few sets of other musicians & singers, play a bunch of great songs. The acoustic guitars sound rich, everything sounds classic, with surprising variety.
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