Wednesday, July 17, 2013

#346: The Lemonheads-It's A Shame About Ray (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "It's A Shame About Ray"
Artist: The Lemonheads
Release Date: June, 1992
From the Album: It's A Shame About Ray (1992)

Quick Take: Evan Dando's good looks and extra-musical antics often obscured the fact that he was one of the best pop songwriters to emerge from the 1990s post-punk genre. As with other bands that immediately followed in the wake of melodic punk-informed groups like the Buzzcocks and Hüsker Dü, the Lemonheads, as steered by Dando, gradually moved from a raw garage-band sound toward a more straightforward pop approach. The album It's a Shame About Ray and its title track completed the transformation. Written with friend and collaborator Tom Morgan, an Australian musician and songwriter in the band Godstar, "It's a Shame About Ray" is a wistful, melodic singalong song that has an underlying element of melancholy, but is delightfully vague in its message. Most likely an overheard piece of dialogue or headline, the Ray of the title seems to be someone who is gone but not forgotten, evoking an all-things-must-pass sentiment: "some things need to go away." Perhaps the song's most poignant line is "in the stone under the dust his name is still engraved." "It's a Shame About Ray" is a classic three-chord structure, over which Dando sings a sweet melody in a bruised but warm voice. The Robb Brothers' crisp production allows the song to shine. The Robbs -- who came up in the 1970s heyday of L.A. studios -- applied many of their time-honored recording and production techniques on "It's a Shame About Ray"; they spent more time than the previously underground band was used to, making sure the songs were well crafted and getting performances and sounds. It's a Shame About Ray was one of the first bigger-budget records by a band of the era. The treatment of the record as a bona-fide pop contender by the Robbs, and the band's label, Atlantic, recognized the songwriting talent of Dando and resulted in the single's worldwide success at radio. It's a Shame About Ray was the Lemonheads' breakthrough record.

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