1992's It's A Shame About Ray is widely accepted as Lemonheads' finest half-hour, bridging the gap between Evan Dando's more shambolic, punk-influenced days and the half-assing that came after it. Sixteen years later, it sounds slightly dated but no less sunny and terrific—the jangly guitars define Alternative Nation's best days, when indie-rock, such as it was, could still safely flirt with the mainstream. "Confetti" and "It's A Shame About Ray" could find a home on the radio in any decade since, and the quiet strum of "My Drug Buddy" and especially "Hannah & Gabi" offer concrete proof that Dando was so much more than just a pretty face. Ray still feels classic, front to back, and that includes the star-making, tacked-on cover of "Mrs. Robinson."
This collector's-edition reissue adds a bunch of tracks that sound promising on paper, but don't really deliver. Demo versions of nine Ray songs offer an intimate look but ultimately reveal nothing; this set would've been far better served by some of the many Lemonheads B-sides, or even a better-recorded acoustic set, where Dando generally delivers. The accompanying DVD offers a straight reissue of the previously VHS-only Two Weeks In Australia, which gathers music videos ("It's A Shame About Ray" stars Johnny Depp) and some live clips. It's far from essential, but still fun—especially if you want to see the man who defined dreamy in the 120 Minutes era wearing jean shorts.
Bonus Material: C