Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Take A Break

 Me First And The Gimme Gimmes don’t release their albums often enough for me. And this is one of their best ones yet. For those who haven’t heard me wax rhapsodic about the Gimmes before, they’re an all-star aggregation of members from other punk bands such as NOFX who gather to deliver a vicious kidney punch to much-deserving radio staples from the 60s, 70s and 80s – and it seems like the latter era is where Take A Break gets its inspiration. The Gimmes once again ride the volume, and their musical skills, up to “11” on the knob, proving that they can actually sing and they can actually play. Something else they can do is be funny as hell, as proven by the masterful touch of adding the Three Stooges’ “hello, hello, hello… hello!” harmony gag to the tail end of Lionel Richie’s ballad “Hello” (a song I used to dread hearing on the radio, though I love this reading of it). Other targets include “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”, Whitney Houston’s “Save The Best For Last”, and…it’s as if the guys read my mind and plucked out a perfect songlist of tunes with whom I’ve held a grudge for a decade and a half.

4 out of 4So what’s next for the Gimmes? Hopefully an album within the next 12 months, and hopefully an album that drags some of country music’s most hackneyed hits, kicking and screaming, into the Gimmes’ unique punk stylings. Oh, how I can wish for both of those things. If the guys want to tour again in the meantime, however, and play somewhere close enough for me to see the show, I can see letting them have two years instead of just one.

Order this CD

  1. Where Do Broken Hearts Go (2:32)
  2. Hello (2:20)
  3. End Of The Road (3:02)
  4. Ain’t No Sunshine (1:46)
  5. Nothing Compares 2 U (2:41)
  6. Crazy (3:10)
  7. Isn’t She Lovely (2:27)
  8. I Believe I Can Fly (3:03)
  9. Oh Girl (2:00)
  10. I’ll Be There (2:09)
  11. Mona Lisa (2:52)
  12. Save The Best For Last (2:07)
  13. Natural Woman (2:37)

Released by: Fat Wreck Chords
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 32:46

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Blow In The Wind

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Blow In The WindMe First and the Gimme Gimmes are almost miracle workers in my book. How could they actually make me like that miserably depressing Terry Jack tune “Seasons In The Sun”? By covering it in their own bizarre punk style – they’re all able musicians, the Gimmes, but at times they play the song just badly enough that it’s a redeeming trait. But their latest album – once again clocking in at a measley (and expensive) half-hour only – proves that they can, indeed, play the hell out of something if they so choose. And they’ve once again chosen the oldies, sticking to the 60s and early 70s so familiar to me from my own oldies radio experience. I love the music of this era – and the Gimmes attack it with aplomb, actually delivering well-played and at times almost reverent (note I said “almost”) covers of these tunes.

The highlights include “Elenor” (a Turtles cover), a little Lennon & McCartney tune called “All My Lovin'”, the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B”, and an astonishingly good version of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”. But not content to sing only those songs originally essayed by men, the Gimmes also have a field day with Petula Clark’s “I Only Want To Be With You”, Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” (which, halfway through the song, becomes “Stand By Your Band”, a tribute to groupies everywhere), and “My Boyfriend’s Back” (in which not one single word is changed, not even to reflect gender). The results are hilarious, but the vocals, performances and production are sharpening quite noticeably. They’re not butchering the songs this time, as 4 out of 4was the case with a few of their offerings on the last album, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Are A Drag.

Highly recommended – and they’re touring now! – though I do wish they’d turn out something more along the lines of the length of an actual album.

Order this CD

  1. Blowin’ In The Wind (1:44)
  2. Sloop John B. (2:09)
  3. Wild World (2:30)
  4. Who Put The Bomp (2:02)
  5. Elenor (2:33)
  6. My Boyfriend’s Back (2:26)
  7. All My Lovin’ (1:54)
  8. Stand By Your Man (2:01)
  9. San Francisco (1:47)
  10. I Only Want To Be With You (2:12)
  11. Runaway (1:59)
  12. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (2:07)
  13. Different Drum (2:31)
  14. You’ve Got A Friend (2:32)

Released by: Fat Wreck Chords
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 30:27

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Are A Drag

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Are A DragHow could Me First and the Gimme Gimmes possibly top their hilarious punk-rock butchering of numerous well-deserving adult contemporary hits? Try showtunes on for size! In this woefully short collection of satirical (and yet somehow musically valid) covers, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes take on numerous well-known gems from stage and screen musicals. Everything from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (“Science Fiction Double Feature”) to The Muppet Movie (“The Rainbow Connection”) is represented, with Annie, Porgy and Bess, The Wizard Of Oz, and Phantom of the Opera thrown in for good measure. The style is just like Have A Ball – good musicianship and irreverence mixed 3 out of 4together, on speed. On Phantom of the Opera, the guys even call in a female backup singer to do a little bit of operatic warbling as they continue to thrash out the music as wildly as they can. As with Have A Ball, I strongly recommend this album if for no other reason than its comedic value alone, but one really must be in the right frame of mind for it!

Order this CD

  1. Over The Rainbow (1:31)
  2. Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina (2:30)
  3. Science Fiction Double Feature (2:34)
  4. Summertime (2:10)
  5. Favorite Things (1:52)
  6. Rainbow Connection (2:18)
  7. Phantom of the Opera song (1:45)
  8. I Sing the Body Electric (1:43)
  9. It’s Raining On Prom Night (2:57)
  10. Tomorrow (1:31)
  11. What I Did For Love (1:46)
  12. Stepping Out (3:22)

Released by: Fat Wreck Chords
Release date: 1999
Total running time: 26:02

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Have A Ball

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Have A BallEasily the strangest thing I’ve heard in 1998 (and keep in mind, this is when I include a bunch of Babylon 5 soundtracks and other such oddities), this dandy slice of indie treasure is one punk band’s loving tribute to the songs they had no choice but to grow up with. Well, perhaps “loving” isn’t the best description, and some might even argue with me on the “tribute” part, but it’s hilarious (and quite good in a musical sense!) to listen to. For the most part, the songs start out in the same tempo as the original, but at the first opportunity – usually between verses, or between the first verse and the first chorus – the group kicks into high gear and starts jamming the song in question to within an inch of its life. Some of the songs featured are good songs and are just fun to hear in a strange context – namely Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” – and others are smarmy samples of the 70’s which truly deserve to be musically massacred like this (Terry Jacks’ “Seasons In The Sun”, one of my all-time least favorite songs, is actually far more appealing in this form – I can finally return all the torture I’ve received from years of being forced to hear that song in my first radio job). And the musicianship is uniformly good – despite the wild jamming aspect of the whole thing, the playing and singing are good, even more so when you consider that this is a punk band…they’re not just screaming, notes are actually held! (Though some amusing artifacts of punk rock 4 out of 4surface, such as repeatedly screaming “YEAH! YEAH! at the end of some songs.) I recommend this rarity to anyone who suffered through the 1970s in person (as opposed to the younger crowd who may think they’ve experienced the worst of it because they’ve watched 8-Track Flashback on VH-1), or to anyone who’s going to have a wild party anytime soon.

Order this CD

  1. Danny’s Song (2:09)
  2. Leaving On A Jet Plane (2:33)
  3. Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard (2:42)
  4. One Tin Soldier (2:01)
  5. Uptown Girl (2:22)
  6. I Am A Rock (2:04)
  7. Sweet Caroline (2:54)
  8. Seasons In The Sun (2:27)
  9. Fire and Rain (1:24)
  10. Nobody Does It Better (2:28)
  11. Mandy (2:27)
  12. Rocket Man (3:17)

Released by: Fat Wreck Chords
Release date: 1997
Total running time: 28:50