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'Varshons 2'   

-  Label: 'Fire Records'
-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '8th February 2019'

Our Rating:
BBC DJ Mark Radcliffe once quipped that if music festival goers ever saw Evan Dando coming they would hastily stamp out their camp fires.

The fact that an impromptu sing-along with the mainstay Lemonhead is not to everyone's taste probably explains why the Boston-formed one-time college-rockers have remained permanently on the fringes of success since they formed in 1986. After being quite productive up to 1997, subsequent releases have appeared in fits and starts.

In 2009 the covers album Varshons came out featuring, among others, songs by Gram Parsons, Wire, Leonard Cohen, and Tim Hardin. I guess that since the band's most played song on Last.Fm is Simon & Garfunkel's 'Mrs. Robinson' a further set of remakes and remodels must have seemed like a safe bet. So, lo and behold, almost a decade later we are treated to Varshons 2.

The nearest to a new song comes in the form of The GiveGood's Unfamiliar, a pseudo reggae number Dando co-wrote with Tom Morgan.

The other twelve selections range from relatively obscure tracks like Natural Child's Now And Then to more familiar tunes such as The Eagles' soft-rock anthem Take it Easy and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds' unimprovable Straight to You.

Paul Westerberg's bitter-sweet Things and Florida Georgia Line's Kid Rock-esque Round Here are the kind of hippy yarns that are right up Dando's street but the addition of fuzz guitar does nothing to improve The Jayhawks' sublime Settled Down Like Rain nor Lucinda Williams' Abandoned.

John Prine's achingly sad Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness is treated more respectfully and it's nice to hear some love being shown for the grossly under-appreciated The Bevis Frond with Old Man Blank.

Eyes' punk-driven TAQN (take a quaalude now) provides a much needed energy rush but for the most part this laid back batch of revisited tunes will appeal more to easy listening geeks than indie rock nerds.  

Dando has said that "I never do songs that are my absolute favourites", presumably because he doesn't want to mess with the magic of the originals.

Frankly, if he'd taken a few more liberties with the chosen pieces there would be some point to this album. Instead, the mediocrity of these renditions means that while none will cause any offense, they provide any big thrills either. The most that will happen is that you will be prompted to go to the sources to confirm that they were better left as they were.

The Lemonheads' website
  author: Martin Raybould

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LEMONHEADS, THE - Varshons 2