Saturday, October 10, 2009

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes: Paul

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are a cabaret punk band. The band, Bassist Fat Mike (NOFX), singer Spike Slawson (of the Swingin' Utters) singer/guitarist Joey Cape and drummer Dave Raun (both of Lagwagon) as well as guitarist Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters) have mastered the Dickies finest shtick, which can be described as, clown-punks on speed butchering the classics.

Like the Dickies, and unlike the Ramones who chose cool classics to rev up, Me First and the Gimme Gimme's succeed by creating reverential piss-takes of easy listening oldies (a.k.a. mom-core). Those oldies (o Sole Mio!) are always well-written but usually embarrassingly anchored to an awkward place in time. However, at some primal level these songs have infected their consciousness and, whether they believe that these songs almost brought humankind to the brink of of a very mellow meltdown, they love them, as many Russians still love Stalin. So in their performances they always cling to the core of the song, even as they add parts of old punk songs (i.e. "London Calling", "Blitzkrieg Bop") amp up the guitars, treble the tempo and ruthlessly mock the schmaltzy elements. Life is a cabaret, mothefuckers.

This particular single, Paul, was from their first run of thematic singles (all named for a seventies singer-songwriter) . The A-sides all went to their first album, 1997's Have a Ball while the B-sides only showed up over a decade later on the sequel, Have Another Ball. First they attack Mr. Simon's "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" giving it a stuttering ska-punk riff and some background hey's, Finally "Mother and Child Reunion" gets drained of all the sweet sentimentality and then injected with a playful belligerence and of course a round of those tough-guy shouted yeah's they add to the end of almost every song.

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  1. While I'm not a huge fan Of Mr. First and his G.G.'s I have to admit that the lion's share of my understanding and enjoyment of pop punk started with the very concept they've beaten to friggin' death over the years. I speak (very highly of course) of Husker Du's cover of "Love Is All Around", the theme from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". In fact a large, large portion of my own music making has been in pursuit of that elusive combination of ridiculously catchy early 70's (usually non-rock) pop song slathered in over-driven guitars and basted in rock-a-tude.

  2. I'm with CPB. Hearing a band inject something new into a song that you had otherwise tuned-out (...or turned off!) after years of AM radio play or video rotation is great. I've always tended to say a band is great AFTER hearing them do a cover version.

    Snuff always does this for me. But I'll never forget first hearing the Cowboy Junkies version of 'Sweet Jane' (I now know it was based off of a bootleg...) and I think that is one of the first times I heard a slower version than the original and liked it.

  3. CPB
    Damn you for distracting me now I had to a Husker Du post (with another to follow) and all because o your lukewarm feelings to the Gimme-Gimmes!

    I know that Nick Lowe (a brilliant song-writer by any standard) says he doesn't trust an album without ANY cover songs.

    Good call on both - The Cowboy Junkie's covers were most of their highlights (i.e. Blue Moon, Sweet Jane)while Snuff first came to my attention with those devastating originals("Not Listening") but those covers of theirs were amazing .


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