Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah –
Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies

by Mike D'Ariano

4/2005

For those who don't know, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies are a punk rock supergroup who's current and past lineup has included members of various big and middle-name rock groups like NOFX and the Foo Fighters. They don't do any original material, and each of their four albums has had a theme running through the songs they selected to cover. The first album was 70's tunes, the second was show tunes, the third was 60's tunes and the fourth was songs penned by black songwriters.

The new album, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah, is their first live album, and it was actually recorded at some kid's bar mitzvah! If you pop the disc in a computer, you can watch video of the gig. It's pretty hilarious.

Unlike any live album ever released, The Gimmie Gimmies chose to perform a set consisting entirely of songs that aren't on any of their studio albums; with the exception of the unlisted bonus tracks "Seasons In The Sun" and "Sloop John B" the latter of which Jonny (remember it's his bar mitzvah) himself plays drums on.

Also, they've thrown the thematic aspect of their song selection out the window this time around. The songs range from The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" which the band announces is a song by "one of the most over-rated groups of all time" and will be the last of their "b-list material" for the night, to silly standards like "O Sole Mio" and "Auld Lang Syme" which was dedicated to anyone in the audience who was old and acquainted. Other numbers include songs by Blondie, Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin (a 2:15 version of "Stairway To Heaven") and Willie Nelson. The last two tracks on the album are "Hava Nagila" and "Hava Nagila (Christmas Arrangement)" which is set to the tune of "Feliz Navidad".

Track Listing

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Jonny's Blessing
Stairway to Heaven
Heart of Glass
Delta Dawn
Come Sail Away
O Sole Mio
Strawberry Fields Forever
Auld Lang Syne
The Longest Time
You Were Always On My Mind
Take It On The Run
Superstar
Hava Nagila
Hava Nagila
(Christmas Arrangement)

Unlisted extra tracks:
Seasons In The Sun and
Sloop John B

The Gimmie Gimmies have always surprised me by making albums that superceded the obvious novelty status of what they do. Their third album, "Blow In The Wind" is one of my favorite albums of all time. With Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah on the other hand, the band pushes the novelty concept further than they have in the past, by playing up the fact that they're not very good musicians, which in reality isn't true, and milking the obnoxious Bill Murray lounge singer attitude for all its worth. They screw up the end of songs, they false start the beginnings and they "accidentally" call Jonny, Ronny. Honestly, the whole thing seems forced, as if they're trying really hard to make the album funny, and don't realize that the concept of the album is funny enough as it is.

There are great moments here, for example "Come Sail Away" which is the second funniest version of the Styx song I've ever heard (Cartman's version on the South Park Chef Aid cd still takes first place) and I'll surely be playing this version of Auld Lang Syne at my New Years Eve parties for years to come, but when all is said and done, while this may be the funniest concept the Gimmie Gimmies have ever put across, the album ranks fifth out of their five.



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