Reviews of Lick
Matthew Fritch - From Magnet Magazine June 2003
Best known for its trashed punk cover of Suzanne Vega's "Luka" (think Dinosaur Jr's similar treatment of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven"), Lick is a sloppy kiss goodbye to the Dando/Deily years. Reprising a few earlier tracks along with some post-Deily output, the album is mostly a gag gag gag "7 Powers" steals some lyrics from the All In The Family theme song, while "I Am A Rabbit" finds Dando singing about his sex drive . Opening track "Mallo Cup," however, sounds like early R.E.M. with a chorus burst of buzzsaw guitar, offering one of the record's few signs that the Lemonheads would ever make it out of their dorm-room adolescence. That joke isn't funny anymore: The awful "Cazzo Di Ferro" unsuccessfully mocks macho punk/metal... in Italian.
Michael James Hall - Line of Best Fit, 3rd October 2013
Devotees of The Lemonheads may well have some knowledge of a time when the band was a Replacements-inspired garage band in which vocalist/guitarist Ben Deily occasionally shared singing and songwriting duties with spike-haired drummer Evan Dando. This was, as Fire records would have it so crassly as the title of the set (including stickers. Yay. Stickers) that collects these three releases, ‘When The Lemonheads Were Punk’. Well, it’s true. They were. And here’s the evidence.
Though the Lemonheads had split after Creator – tensions between Deilly and Dando rising to breaking point it seems – they pulled themselves back together to tour Europe and create Lick, a patchwork of fresh recordings of old b-sides, covers and a few new songs. For a plate of reheated leftovers this is pretty tasty – opener ‘Mallo Cup’ introduces us to a new Lemonheads – the folk-pop metalheads who’d go on to become one of the more beloved artifacts of the 1990s. It fuzzes and swoons, Dando chugs and croons, stoned romance pouring from the speakers “I never can forget/I ain’t remembered yet/Like mackerel in a net/I forget to forget.” Opening line “Here I am outside your house at 3am/trying to think you out of bed” sets the scene for the teen devotion that was headed Dando’s way, summing up in a line the lunk-headed handsome naivety that would make the indie world fall so hard in love with him. Dando’s ‘A Circle of One’ is also simple, sad and superb.
Strangely ‘Glad I Don’t Know’ re-recorded from the ’86 Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners EP sounds entirely contemporary - a fizzing punk-pop blast, an ice cold coke in the face. Deily’s ‘7 Powers’ has a sweet and sour riff to drop to your knees for, “Don’t ever go / You know I need you so” he pleads in that adorable teenage way. Deily’s best ever Lemonheads song ‘Anyway’ is a powerhouse of luscious melody and a vaulting, heartsick chorus “I loved you so but that was long ago/But it only takes a day, it doesn’t matter anyway”, ‘Sad Girl’ (intended for Hate Your Friends) is another stinging sherbert delight.
Perhaps the key song here is Dando’s notorious cover of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Luka’ – relating to the original in only a tangential way, it shows Dando’s sudden knack for shaping unlikely source material in his own image and creating something entirely other along the way. His interpretation sounds like a party gone wrong, a nursery rhyme warped out of shape, a metallic romp with it’s legs pulled from under it, finally a wail of oppression that matches anything in the staid, glum original.
In the extras, original versions of the reworked material are a solid inclusion though the Lick versions are uniformly superior, a live take on ‘Mallo Cup’ is a delight – illustrating that Dando’s tendency to mumble lackadaisically through his sets had an earlier onset than his fame. There’s also an amusing interview track that purports to be with Evan Dando but is clearly with a hyper Corey Loog Brennan, who firstly intimates that the band are only interested in aping bands from Minneapolis then goes on to deride Lick as a few b-sides and covers chucked together to create the impression of an album. Well, it’s good to be a realist, but this is by far the finest album in the reissue set, and boasts the most interesting package of extras.
Of course this was the end for the Dando/Deily Lemonheads (until they reconvened in the studio under the fanboy eye of producer Ryan Adams earlier this year) and next, in 1990 we’d have the glorious Lovey and Dando as a nu-hippy heartthrob in waiting. In ’92 they’d release perhaps the most wonderful summer album of all time in the shape of It’s A Shame About Ray,and their legend would be set.