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Are you one of those people who moan about bands always covering old classic songs? You know, maybe you objected to Boyzone covering Love me For a Reason because you always thought the Osmond's with their pearly white teeth and their clean cut all-American image were the better singers?
If you hate cover versions, then I can tell you you'll hate this band.
Me First and The Gimme Gimmes ARE a cover band. They have never released a song they've written themselves, and they probably never intend to. However, the Gimme Gimmes are not some Irish boy band hoping to storm to the top of the charts by singing a cheesy cover of an Abba song in a sickly sweet four part harmony riding on no talent but a pretty boy image.
That said, they're NOT talentless. The band formed as a jokey little sideline for members of such high profile bands as NOFX and Lagwagon, there is a huge amount of talent, and their tongue-in-cheek punk ska covers of a selection of cheesy hits, from sixties classic to popular showtunes from musicals, over a series of four albums has become a bit of a hit in many of the rockier clubs in the UK.
The line up consists of Spike Slawson (from the Swinging Utters) on vocals, Jake Jackson on Guitars, Lagwagons Joey Cape and Dave Raun on guitars and drums respectively, and NOFX'S 'fat' Mike Burkett on Bass guitar.
Track 1) Where do broken hearts go.
Made famous by Whitney Housten in 1987, this is a song about heartbreak, and not knowing how to get over it. It WAS a sad song with beautiful lyrics that whenever Whitney performed it would bring a small tear to my eye. However, in the hands of the Gimme Gimmes, with Slawsons powerful vocals, heavy power chords and a strong, thumping drumbeat, this song is transformed into a beast of a Ska record.
I know it's been some time
But there's something on my mind
You see, I haven't been the same
Since that cold November day...
We said we needed space
But all we found was an empty place
And the only thing I learned
Is that I need you desperately...
Everyone knows this song famous by Lionel Ritchie, with that slightly creepy video where Mr Ritchie appears to be stalking that poor blind sculptress, the addition of some pretty impressive guitar solo work and a novelty barbershop quartet style harmony at the end makes this song much better in my eyes, dues to cheese factor dropping from Gorgonzola levels to about the cheesiness of a Dairylea triangle.
I doubt a lyric example is needed..But for those who've never heard this song before....Helloooooo, is it me you're looking for.
Track 3) End of the road.
A classic Boyz II Men track, this is one of those songs that I always hated and couldn't bear to listen to in its original format. Me first and the Gimme Gimmes, as well as adding a heavy layer of punk have done this song a hearty favour by speeding it op so that this ones epic song of misery is over in a flat three minutes. A song I will NEVER like, but can just about tolerate when I know the pain in my ears will end soon.
Track 4) Ain't no sunshine
Originally a Bill Withers classic, this song, which was great in it's original format, if a little slow, has been given a great dose of kickass while retaining all the beauty and meaning of the lyrics. From a band who can be a little heavy handed with the power chords, this song has been treated by them with some degree of respect, (although you do hear a note exhaustion creep in about after the twelfth repetition of 'I know, I know, etc')
Track 5) Nothing compares to you
A song that often gets brutally mis-sung on the nations Karaoke Machines, this one was a hit for the egg-headed Irish beauty that is Sinead O' Connor. Again, the band has, for them, been quite delicate with their additions to this song, the singing is excellent and the song although considerably faster retains its original emotion and meaning.
Track 6) Crazy
Written by Samuel Henry Olusegun Adeola, the man who rather sensibly changed his name to the more pronounceable Seal in order to make himself successful this has always been a favourite song of mine. They band stay true tot he tune, albeit making it faster and adding a little bit of extra guitar, but listen to the subtle lyric changes, for example 'Crazy yellow people walking through my head, One of them's got a gun, he's yelling ' in my ear.'
I'm going to leave off on the track description there, because what I'd really like is for you to go out, purchase this album, and discover it for yourselves. The rest of the tracks are: Isn't she Lovely, I believe I can fly, Oh girl, I'll be there, Mona Lisa, Save the best for last, and Natural Woman. Due to most of the songs being considerably sped up punk versions, the album is very short at just over 32 minutes long.
So, with Nat King Cole turning in his grave, and Seal and Vanessa Williams sitting there calculating the amount of alcohol they can obtain from their small amount of extra royalties, what else is there for me to say, apart from BUY this album.
It's may not be the most remarkable album you ever here, there's very little originality whatsoever, but if you like Ska, and you like cheesy lyrics, you'll like me first and the Gimme Gimmes, and they make a great party background listening for a giggle. Due to the band not being particularly well known, I'd recommend trying larger music retailers or the Internet. You can expect to pay around 11.99 in most music shops, and considerably less online .
Www.gimmegimmes.com is worth checking out to find out more about the band.
Five stars from me, as despite being wholly unoriginal, it hits all my comedy buttons.
For my first review since stepping down as Music Guide I decided to do something a bit different than my usual review. A few years ago I was in my local Virgin Megastore when I heard a cover of Boyz II Men's End of the Road. I was truly angry that someone could butcher such a great song, I asked the member of staff at the counter what artist was playing and they told me "Me First and the Gimme Gimmies. Well that one song was enough for me until now when looking through the albums on dooyoo I decided to listen again and review the album. So here is my review of "Take a Break" by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
**Take A Break**
After doing a little research I was staggered to read that Take A Break is in fact the fourth album from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Released on 1st July 2003 it is a cover album full of the bands versions of well known R&B songs. With original artists ranging from the likes of Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, Seal and Vanessa Williams to older artists like Aretha Franklin, Jackson Five and Bill Withers. As usual with Punk nearly all the songs are only a couple of minutes long.
1.) Where do broken hearts go
This cover of Whitney Houston's classic, the guitar opens the song with an annoyingly repetetive tone. The drums are too heavy for the song and the vocals are dreadful. Nothing like the original.
This is a terrible cover of the classic Lionel Richie track, The track opens nothing like the original with a frentic punk guitar feel and then the vocals come in, there is a scream from the vocalist and a guitar solo that sounds too much like The Strokes' solo from Last Night. Not the worst track on the album but pretty bad.
3.) End of the Road
The original track from 1992 is one of the biggest selling singles of all time spending sixteen weeks at number one. This cover however is quite dreadful, The vocals are dreadful and there is a weird church bit to open the track with. Boyz II Men are legends and these five blokes are just dreadful. The bits they have added are just dreadful too.
4.) Ain't No Sunshine
This cover of Bill Withers classic features the same kind of annoying guitar and drum melody as before and the out of tune singing from the lead singer. This in no way shows that the Band have anywhere near the talent of Bill Withers. Just a rubbish cover really.
5.) Nothing Compares 2 U
This is a cover of the Prince track and opens with the out of tune vocals from the lead singer. The guitars are reggae tinged and the drums are plodding, This takes away all of the emotion of the song and just plods along without any feeling. Just awful cover.
Originally recorded by Seal this track opens with a terrible messy guitar melody and then the drums and vocals come in with the bass. This one actually sounds the most like the original musically but is a terrible version of one of Seal's most well known tracks.
7.) Isn't She Lovely
This cover of the Stevie Wonder classic opens with a better guitar opening and then the drums kick in, from the music you wouldnt recognise the song but you certainly will once the lyrics kick in and what a shame. This becomes a dreadful cover of the classic track.
8.) I Believe I Can Fly
The opening of this track hints at a little talent with a Bluesy guitar but then the generic punk sound comes in and the song decends into the swamp. This version does not do any justice to the lyrics of the song and the whole meaning of it. Terrible.
9.) Oh Girl
This track was originally done by The Chi-lites and even though I am not too aware of the original I'm sure that it is better than this pile of rubbish. Just moves along without any emotion and not much like the original musically.
10.) I'll Be There
Originally done by The Jackson Five and later done by Mariah Carey Here's yet another track that sounds nothing like the original musically. The vocals are dreadful and the plodding guitar "melody" sounds terrible and just does not work at all well. Another butchering job on a classic track. One to avoid like the plague.
11.) Mona Lisa
Originally recorded by Nat King Cole, This is the softest track on the album and has a breathless bottle blowing part and terribly dated vocals from the lead singer. The weakest original track on the album is covered terribly on this track.
12.) Save The Best For Last
This is a cover of the well known Vanessa Williams track, it opens with a gentle guitar melody and some drumming, but once the vocals come in this track plumets, Nothing like the original musically and just a terrible version with very very bad vocals.
13.) Natural Woman
Punk guitars open the track and then the drums crash in, if this wasnt a cover of such a great song it might be an ok track but when you remeber the original version from Aretha Franklin you understand what a terrible job these guys have done. Just terrible yet again.
Thankfully we have come to the end of the album, Only 32 minutes long though so that is a slight saving grace, All of the covers are performed with the same emotionless musical backing. They have butchered some of the most well known songs of all time and they continue to do it even now. This is quite possibly the worst covers album I have ever had the disfortune of listening to and even knowing about it is enough to make you despair. Avoid this like you would avoid the plague.
Now for those of you who have never heard of this band let me give you a very brief synopsis, Me first and the gimme gimmes (often they are just called the gimmes) are a punk rock supergroup and covers band that formed in 1995 consisting of members of various other bands such as NOFX and Foo Fighters, originally they planned to cover there favourite songs and release them on compilation albums but ended up releasing there first album in 1997.
Take a break is the fourth offering from the band released in 1993 and this is the first I had heard of them was when a friend told me to have a look at this fantastic covers band and since then I have been hooked, they are a mix of punk/metal/rock and cover with great aplomb and talent some of the greatest songs ever released.
On this album we are treated to such delights ranging from Whitney Houstons-were do broken hearts go? to nothing compares 2 u by Prince and Bill withers and Vanessa Williams in between.
These are very quickly delivered due to the punk rock/nature of these records and normally this adrenalin fuelled rollercoaster ride only lasts a couple of minutes, but what a couple of minutes it is!! with great vocals delivered and some great harmonies, of course there is a certain amount of mickey taking but nothing offensive or to condescending it is all harmless fun and really should be seen as flattery as the songs that are chosen really are able to take the gimmes treatment.
You really have not lived until you have heard Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin given the cover treatment, fantastic stuff really makes a change from the mainstream.
CD's are not easy to find cheaply and are expensive on Amazon and considering these masterpieces are only about 30 mins long may want to beg,borrow or club together to buy them!!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Where Do Broken Hearts Go
3 End Of The Road
4 Ain't No Sunshine
5 Nothing Compares 2 U
7 Isn't She Lovely
8 I Believe I Can Fly
9 Oh Girl
10 I'll Be There
11 Mona Lisa
12 Save The Best For Last
13 Natural Woman