I must first confess that I’m an unabashedly self-proclaimed cover whore. Punk and power pop covers are a weakness of mine and I can only thank/blame the meticulously well-crafted covers produced by San Francisco’s Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. At the first listen of 1999′s Are a Drag, I was hooked. I picked up predecessor Have a Ball and, admittedly, got hold of some bootlegs from that recording sessions which are finally officially being released at the Gimmes’ seventh full length studio album, Have Another Ball.
The record begins with the electrifying cover of Hall and Oate’s “Rich Girl.” It’s an explosion of power chords and pounding beats with all the catchiness of the original, allowing it to stick in your head for hours. Drummer Dave attacks the kit with unmatched ferocity as Joey Cape and Jake “Chris” Jackson shred their respective guitars on Simon and Garfunkel hit “The Boxer.”
One of my favorite Gimmes songs is John Denver‘s “Country Roads,” the bootleg of which I’ve possessed for years, and managed to get my 50-something year old USAP teacher Mr. Austin into it during the yearly AP sing along in my high school years. The sing along occurred following the AP test at the end of the year and involved Mr. Austin bringing his acoustic guitar to class and playing classic American folk songs. I made him a mix CD of the songs played and included the Me First renditions of “Country Roads” and “Leaving On A Jet Plane” (download), both of which Mr. A enjoyed despite his conservative approach to life, proving that Me First and the Gimme Gimmes bridge generational gaps.
Aside from the increased tempos and power chords on the Me First versions of these classics, it’s Spike Slawson‘s distinctive vocals and seemingly abundant energy that makes Me First and the Gimme Gimmes so appealing. I always find myself looking forward to his excited shouting “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” at the end of almost every track as if there wasn’t anything else in the world that would make him happier than what’s he’s doing.
Have Another Ball is rife with tempos at breakneck speeds, fully charged riffs, pulsating bass lines provided by Fat Mike and, most importantly, a hyperactive excitement that many modern bands lack. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ excitement is best displayed in the album’s closing track, Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” It starts fairly subdued in the first verse but simply explodes with vigorous enthusiasm in the form of power chords and a fervent melody.
In support of Have Another Ball, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes will be playing a short string of West Coast dates (below) in August. Before then, pick up a copy of Have Another Ball out on Fat Wreck Chords starting July 8, 2008.
01. Rich Girl (Hall & Oates)
02. The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel) download
03. Country Roads (John Denver) download
04. I Write The Songs (Barry Manilow)
05. Sodomy (“Hair” the musical)
06. You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King)
07. Mahogany (Diana Ross)
08. Mother & Child Reunion (Paul Simon)
09. Only The Good Die Young (Billy Joel)
10. Coming to America (Neil Diamond)
11. The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff)
12. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John)
Aug 02 – Sacramento, CA at Blue Lamp
Aug 03 – West Hollywood, CA at House of Blues
Aug 04 – San Luis Obispo, CA at Downtown Brew
Aug 05 – Santa Barbara, CA at Velvet Jones
Aug 07 – Pomona, CA at The Glass House
Aug 08 – San Diego, CA at House of Blues
Aug 09 – San Francisco, CA at Thee Parkside
Aug 10 – San Francisco, CA at Thee Parkside