Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Evan Dando – Live at the Brattle Theatre/Griffith Sunset EP

This two disc opus of Evan Dando (former lead singer and one time drummer with the Lemonheads) dates from 2001 and while it isn’t freely available in your average record store, you would really have to wonder why.

The first disc is a live solo acoustic recording from the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts – a sort of homecoming for Evan and certainly the warmth of the audience reception shines through here. But what also shines through is that sense of longing and loss that comes with Evan Dando recordings – the songs are witty but there’s an underlying tug of regret there that Dando’s voice encapsulates. Lost opportunities, lost friends and times that are never coming back – the usual frailties of the human condition I suppose.

Hopefully that’s not enough to turn you off because anyone with an interest in the Lemonheads or in Dando needs to have a copy of this in their collection. (In fact even if you have a weakness for singer/songwriting – without the whining – then you ought to get this).

The first four tracks are old Lemonheads tunes – Down About It, The Turnpike Down and My Drug Buddy from It’s a Shame About Ray while The Outdoor Type pitches in from Car, Button, Cloth. The live versions are all good but The Outdoor Type aches just a little more than on the studio version and Drug Buddy comes across as even more lived in than it ever did on the original album.

The tone of wistfulness continues with a track from Dando’s most recent album (Baby I’m Bored – released in 2003), the full title of which is The Same Thing You Thought Hard About is the Same Part I Can Live Without. Any song that contains the line “…a broken heart and two black eyes, but you should see the other guy” has to rank up there with the greats. Next up is Ride with Me, which starts up with the line “That pencil smell, reminds me of school, the clock on the wall, I can no longer fool” – an absolute cracking song complete with a loud electric guitar solo section for good measure.

Next up are songs written by other songwriters – Dando is well known for cover versions – check the web for versions of How will I Know (Whitney Houston) and Missing You (John Waite) amongst others. The first one is called Frying Pan and comes across well in the context of the album. The second one, Excuse Me Mister, is given an acapella treatment with the added treat of a delayed vocal track harmony – not easy to explain but very good to listen to. The final cover version is an Alex Chilton number called Thirteen and the stylistic parallels between Chilton and Dando are very apparent – an excellent tribute to the Big Star man all the same.

The final two songs on the album are Dando’s own – Stove and Half the Time. Stove is another one of those witty numbers ostensibly about the gas man coming to take away the old stove and replacing it with a new one but wouldn’t you know it – the stove is only a metaphor for lost loves, lost opportunities and times that are never coming back. Half the Time finishes off the album with another diamond line “…Mountain Dew and Marlboro, while I stew over all I owe” and with classic lyrics like this nestled into sweet tunes, I can honestly say that while the time you spend listening to this album won’t ever come back, the memories will keep you smiling long after the echo of the last notes has faded.

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