Among the memorable album releases from way back in 1992 are Eric Clapton's Unplugged, R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People, Dr. Dre's The Chronic, and It's a Shame about Ray from the Lemonheads, a band led by this guy in the hoodie - Evan Dando. You remember him, right? Well, do you know what Dando doesn't remember about the stardom that followed Ray? Kissing Angelina Jolie, that's what. Read on in this section to find out how that's possible.
Fine and Dando
As Evan Dando revisits the 1992 album that made him a star, we offer four things you should know about him. By James Mayfield
Fifteen years is a long time in rock and roll. Long enough to gain fame, lose it and yourself along the way, and recapture it again. Long enough, even, to forget that you once locked lips with Angelina Jolie. And that's exactly what's happened to Evan Dando since his pop-rock band, the Lemonheads, first gained wide recognition for its 1992 cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson."
The song appeared on the Lemonheads' fifth, and what was then its most critically acclaimed, full-length record, It's a Shame about Ray. At the time, the band was a trio originally out of Boston - Dando, bass player Juliana Hatfield, and drummer David Ryan - that had attracted a small but passionate following. But "Mrs. Robinson" helped draw a much broader audience to the group. And when that audience found Ray, it had plenty to like. There were hooks: At just 30 minutes long, Ray offered a plethora of brief, catchy songs. There were looks: Tall, shaggy-haired, and handsome, Dando, the son of a former fashion model, was easy magazine-photo-spread material. In 1993, soon after Ray's release, Dando was even named one of the world's "50 dishiest people" by People magazine, an honor (?) that was probably due in no small part to his friendship with Johnny Depp.
But from there, the story took an almost-too-predictable course, one that involved a failure to find another hit, rumored (and confirmed) drug use, and a personal crisis that spelled the end of the Lemonheads in 1998. Dando didn't record under that band name again until 2005. When he did, Ray was there again: That year, he performed a couple of shows in which It's a Shame about Ray was played in its entirety.
The comeback spurred Dando to record new Lemonheads material; on the heels of 2006's The Lemonheads, another new album is expected to come out later this year. And that's inspired this month's reissue of Ray in a collector's edition that includes a 45-minute DVD of videos and live performances and some never-before-heard demo tracks that, like Dando himself, were once lost but now are found.
1 The simplest songs are best, if you can find them.
"I made the demos at home on a four-track on cassette," Dando says. "The demos are just a few tracks of me singing and playing the song twice. That was about as advanced as I could get on a four-track at the time. It's just a guitar and vocals. It's nice. "I was going crazy looking for them. Michael Krumper, who works at Razor & Tie now - he used to work at Atlantic [the Lemonheads' label] - had them. And thank God he had them, because now we've got a DVD, nine previously unreleased songs, and the record. It's very exciting. It just brings the album to people's attention one more time."
2 If Dando had to do Ray all over again, he might have hidden the hit "Mrs. Robinson" in a hiding place where no one ever goes.
"I wouldn't have put 'Mrs. Robinson' on the album," Dando says. "But I can't really complain about it at this point. It really did help get us exposure. Luckily, people ventured further and heard the other stuff."
3 He didn't find Angelina Jolie's famous lips to be all that memorable.
In the early '90s, "I was living at this crummy place in the San Fernando Valley, and Johnny Depp had a big house, all empty," Dando recalls. "He just said, 'Come over.' He's a real generous person. He let me live at his house for a couple of months. So, I got Johnny in a video ['It's a Shame about Ray']. Chloë Sevigny is in one ['Big Gay Heart']. And then I found out that Angelina Jolie was in one of our videos too. I made out with her for a couple of shots. That was for 'It's about Time.' Someone asked me, 'So Angelina Jolie is in your video?' I didn't know. Then I looked back on it, and, sure enough, he was right. My main girl in the video was Amy Smart. It was this really dumb-looking video."
4 He's come to believe that cover songs aren't so bad after all.
"I'm working on a new record right now with [punk rocker] Gibby Haynes," Dando says. "Back in the day, me and Johnny [Depp] and Gibby used to hang out. We're doing a covers record together. It's going to be a Lemonheads record, but it's going to be all over the place. There'll be some real notable guests on there, but I don't want to give them away."