FIRST & THE GIMME GIMMES- Take a Break (Fat
Wreck) This kinda crazy
bullshit just never gets old to me. With
their trademark ability to knock a song on its ass by blowing it wide
open, Take A Break finds the
Gimmes spewing out 13 R&B covers and making their usual very fine mess
of things. It’s really the
same ol’ same ol’ in a certain sense. They somehow manage to make their unique take of a particular
song hilarious while still coming off as quite sincere in their desire to
do the song absolute justice. As
with past releases, Spike Slawson’s incredible vocals take the whole
album up a notch. That fucker
can flat-out sing. And as
usual, the rest of the band sounds fantastic too.
Take A Break also has it’s share of Me First’s ad-libbed lyrical
improvements here and there, and they do the typical morphing of a punk
rock classic into the eventual subject of the cover. (Most notably on this
release it’s melding the Sex Pistols and what sounds like Adam & The
Ants into various revved up R&B hits).
Okay, enough generalizations already-
it’s time to get down to bidness. Highlights
of this disc include a muscle-bound version of Lionel Richie’s
“Hello,” a melodic-yet-tough-yet really sweet cover of Stevie
Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” (I never realized this was about a
newborn baby), and a funny yet powerfully corking take of Aretha
Franklin’s “Natural Woman.” Seriously
good stuff. They also do
decent justice to some more modern songs, including Seal’s “Crazy,”
R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” and Prince’s “Nothing Compares
2 U” (yeah, it was made famous by Sinead O’Connor, but Prince wrote it
so it counts as R&B, ya nitpicky fucks).
I also really liked their version of “End Of The Road,” though
I have no idea who originally did this one.
And this actually brings me to my only (admittedly personal) issue
with Take A Break- I don’t
really know about 1/3 of these songs, so I really can’t appreciate them
as fully as I’ve been able to on their ‘60s and ‘70s cover albums.
Even the songs I do recognize never really did a helluva lot for me
in the first place, so in the end I’m not actually as excited to listen
to this release as I had been to albums 1 and 3.
I selfishly hope they go back to their turbo-charged pop/rock
classic forte next go-round. If
that just ain’t a-happenin’, then maybe they could try to do psychotic
justice to the classic crooners (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin,
etc.) or maybe the seriously cool country originals (Johnny Cash, Hank
Williams, Loretta Lynn, etc.). Whatever the hell they do, their talent makes the
possibilities endlessly intriguing. I
eagerly await more, you fuckers! –Ben Hunter