Tuesday, January 30, 2007

MUSIC: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Love Their Country


Me First and The Gimme Gimmes Love Their Country is the most enjoyable album I've purchased since Green Day's American Idiot. And I still think American Idiot is the best album of the new millennium, so... there you go.

If you're not familiar with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, they're a supergroup, of sorts, consisting of moonlighting musicians from various Southern California punk rock bands. They're exclusively a cover band. Each of their albums cover a different genre -- Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Are a Drag, for example, is all showtunes; Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah was recorded at an actual bar mitzvah, and includes a take on "Hava Nagila."

Love Their Country, as you may have surmised from the title and the album cover above, is all country songs, reinterpreted via punk rock. And it is fantastic. It will rock your face. And what truly makes it shine is that it isn't meant to be a "Weird Al"-style parody (though they do play around with some of the lyrics), and it isn't meant to be a comedic piss-take, like the lounge covers of Richard Cheese (though it is frequently very funny). The band isn't covering John Denver or the Dixie Chicks as a joke; they're not setting themselves up as better than the material -- or at least, not as I see it. They seem to have a genuine affection and respect for these songs, and they do them justice, while still having fun with them.

And it just plain works. You might be surprised, before hearing this album, just how perfectly suited Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" is to a punk rock reinterpretation; after hearing it, you'd believe that this is the way Willie always intended it to sound.

A few other standouts include their fiery take on Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down" (from the movie Smokey and the Bandit), though it sounds like these Cali boys have never heard of Texarkana (they misspeak it as "Texarcanada"); their raucous covers of the aforementioned Denver and Dixie Chicks ("Annie's Song" and "Goodbye Earl," respectively); and, possibly the gem of the collection, a searing and sincere version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene." Tangent: I have to respect MF&TGG for not altering the original lyrics of "Jolene" -- "I'm begging of you, please don't take my man.... Please don't take him just because you can." Certain other male singers covering songs originally by women are apparently too uptight about their sexual identity not to monkey with the lyrics -- I'm specifically thinking of Counting Crows' version of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," where Adam Duritz replaces "took away my old man" with "took my girl away," but you can probably think of other examples.

I have to thank Dorian and Mike for introducing me to MF&TGG, via mix CDs -- from Dorian I've got their take on "Cabaret," and from Mike I've got "Science Fiction" (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show). I love this band, and I might never have discovered them without Dorian and Mike pointing the way. I've listened to Love Their Country from beginning to end at least once, and usually two or three times, every single day since I bought it, and it just gets more and more entertaining. And I can't wait to get back to the music store and buy another one of their albums. Great stuff!

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com