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Askew Review 15

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ME 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

 

 

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