Patchy covers album from alt.rock veterans
Produced by The Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes, Varshons finds Evan Dando and co. covering a decidedly eclectic selection of artists, ranging from Leonard Cohen to Christina Aguilera.
Of course, The Lemonheads have a good track record when it comes to covers, having scored a major hit in the early ’90s with an ace version of Paul Simon’s ‘Mrs. Robinson’ (though, perhaps inevitably, Dando tired of its popularity – the track was conspicuously absent when the band performed its parent album, It’s A Shame About Ray, as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties Don’t Look Back series).
Though Varshons does have some choice moments, it varies wildly in quality. The tracks are largely presented in acoustic, countrified form, and though this approach works for certain numbers (such as Cohen’s ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’, which also features Liv Tyler on vocals), on others (like Wire’s ‘Fragile’) the results are pretty underwhelming.
An unexpected highlight is a dance cover of ‘Dirty Robot’ by Dutch electro duo Arling and Cameron. Reminiscent of excellent Detroit electro-punks ADULT, the track features an irresistible groove and an assured vocal performance from Kate Moss. Elsewhere, however, Dando comes a-cropper on ‘The Green Fuz’ (originally performed by Randy Alvey and The Green Fuz, though the definitive version was done by The Cramps), and an almost comically earnest reading of Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’.
Nonetheless, given that Dando has in the past produced such gems as the glorious, Byrdsian psychedelic pop tune ‘Into Your Arms’, one still looks forward to The Lemonheads’ upcoming album of original material.
Key track: ‘Dirty Robot’