Album review

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes :
Take A Break

Fat Wreck Chords

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes : Take A BreakCovers of mainstream songs by punk rock bands are nothing new. At some point in their musical career every aspiring punk band has cracked out a cheeky cover of a song that everyone knows. Home Grown famously covered the Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way, New Found Glory did a rather good job of Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On and Gainesville's Less Than Jake went as far as releasing an album full of covers from the hit movie Grease. Hell, my band even covered the theme from Australian soap Home And Away once!
    So it isn't much of a surprise that various punk icons (namely members of Lagwagon, Swingin' Utters, No Use For A Name and über hero Fat Mike of NOFX fame) got together and formed a band that solely played covers. That band is Me First And The Gimme Gimmes and Take A Break is their fourth batch of classic songs . . . as you have never heard them before.

Whitney Houston's ballad Where Do Broken Hearts Go kicks off the album in style. The classic is given a healthy dose of palm muting and a typically speedy beat creating a more than worthy remake.
    A lot of critics and fans believe the true spirit of punk lies in the lyrics. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes instantly dispel this: If someone had never heard these songs before they could easily believe they were original punk songs, even though they would seem to lack a bit of attitude.
    Hello by Lionel Ritchie is given a boot up the arse and a furious solo while Sinead O' Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U is distorted and steady while still retaining its sensitivity.

There is an art to performing covers, believe it or not; the song in question must keep its original appeal and quality but still be different enough to avoid being labelled a rip-off. I guarantee that you would not be able to recognise many of these songs by their opening riffs, which proves that the guys must be doing something right.
    Seal's Crazy seems like the weirdest of songs to be covering, but its originality makes it memorable and a track that stands out amongst love songs like Isn't She Lovely and Oh Girl, as well as Boys II Men's tear-jerker End Of The Road.
    R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly has to be the highlight of Take A Break, although sadly Joey [Cape, Gimmes and Lagwagon vocalist] does not sing the wavering part at the end, possibly because the song is ridiculously fast and fitting the lyrics in on this one already seems enough of a challenge.

Take A Break is on a level with its predecessor, Blow In The Wind. The songs remain distinctively catchy and are effective in their mission to make something fresh out of nostalgia-ridden anthems of the past.
    Some may say Me First And The Gimme Gimmes simply copy songs, but this is not the case at all. The tracks are performed with panache and passion, and are a far cry from regular punk covers as they are short of the awful singing and distinctive lack of instrumental togetherness. I can't decide whether this is good or bad, but I certainly know that Me First And The Gimme Gimmes deserve a lot of credit for making these old songs accessible and appealing to a completely different audience. An achievement in it's own right.

:: Graham Drummond

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