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The Lemonheads - Varshons

The Lemonheads, Varshons

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE Lemonheads’ covers album Varshons is a great mix tape. But it’s not really a Lemonheads record.

For starters, Evan Dando’s voice is stretched in all kinds of directions, there’s guest vocals from model Kate Moss and actress Liv Tyler, and a wide range of styles you wouldn’t automically associate with the band.

That said, it’s an appealing listen that’s always good and sometimes great.

The idea for the LP came from Gibby Haynes, ringmaster of The Butthole Surfers, who for years had made mixes for his longtime friend, Dando.

“Making a good mix is an art,” explains Dando. “And Gibby has it down. So, I thought it would be fun to share these songs with other people like he shared them with me.

“So, I picked up the greatest hits from his mixes and covered them, along with a few other songs I always wanted to play.”

The selections may come as a surprise as they certainly draw from a diverse range. Leonard Cohen’s Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye, for instance, mixes with Christina Aguilera’s hit Beautiful.

And there’s two psychedelic treasures that have been unearthed, in the form of Yesterlove – a song recorded in 1969 by the group Sam Gopal featuring future Motorhead bassist Lemmy Kilmister – and Dandelion Seeds from July, record collector’s Registered Landmark Band.

The album’s best moments arrive in the form of Waiting Around To Die, a dusty, country-tinged, violin-heavy take on the Townes Van Zandt classic; the stripped back, moody and acoustic Green Fuzz (originally penned by Leslie Dale); the Kate Moss delivered Dirty Robot, which should catapult The Lemonheads onto the dancefloor, and Dandelion Seeds, which showcases some terrific blues and psychadelic guitar riffs that draw favourable comparison to the likes of Hendrix et al.

Of those selections, Moss’s contribution is particularly effective and a complete departure from anything else that appears on the LP – but in a good way.

We also really liked the sombre, dusky Mexico, from Fuckemos, which eventually opens into a terrific wall of violins, feedback guitar and acoustic strums.

And the Liv Tyler duet Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye is pretty special, too, with both vocalists striking well off each other in a vulnerable, broken-hearted kind of way.

Varshons is therefore an interesting and ultimately hugely successful experimental showcase from The Lemonheads that shows they can have the kind of fun that translates well to their fanbase. You won’t want to miss out!

Download picks: Waiting Around To Die, I Just Can’t Take It Any More, Green Fuzz, Dirty Robot, Dandelio Seeds, Mexico

Track listing:

  1. Just Can’t Take It Anymore (Gram Parsons)
  2. Fragile (Wire)
  3. Layin’ Up With Linda (G.G. Allin)
  4. Waiting Around To Die (Townes Van Zandt)
  5. Green Fuz (Randy Alvey & Green Fuz)
  6. Yesterlove (Sam Gopal)
  7. Dirty Robot v/ Kate Moss (Arling & Cameron)
  8. Dandelion Seeds (July)
  9. Mexico (Fuckemos)
  10. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye f/ Liv Tyler (Leonard Cohen)
  11. Beautiful (Linda Perry)