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Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Sing in Japanese EP

(Fat Wreck Chords; US: 13 Sep 2011; UK: 12 Sep 2011)

"Gimme’d up" versions of Japanese pop hits.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are the world’s foremost punk rock cover band. Featuring a line-up of punk luminaries drawn from such bands as NOFX, Swingin’ Utters, Lagwagon and No Use For a Name, the band has released a plethora of full-lengths, EPs, and singles since its early ‘90s inception. Covering classic and not so classic tunes from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and beyond, the collective’s repertoire spans genres such as country, R&B, sugary pop, show tunes and Hebrew folk. Artists as diverse as Lionel Richie, John Denver, Styx and Neil Diamond have all been blessed by rollicking So-Cal punk reinterpretations of their songs.

Sing in Japanese is the second EP for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes in 2011. The first, February’s Go Down Under EP, featured covers of artists from Australia, and it was a good-time, rip-roaring blast of pop-punk. Sing in Japanese continues in the same vein musically—not that that’ll be any surprise to fans, as the band’s style hasn’t changed one iota since day one—but the obvious difference this time round is that the lead singer, Spike Slawson, actually sings in Japanese (sort of).

The story, according to the band’s bio, is that bassist, Fat Mike, asked a friend who was fluent in Japanese to write out lyrics phonetically for Slawson to sing. The Gimme Gimmes then grabbed a bunch of Japanese tourists off the street to come and listen to ensure it was at least marginally comprehensible, and voilà: the band’s first solely foreign-language endeavor (Keep an ear out. Spanish, Italian, German and French EPs are apparently due in the near future!). Sing in Japanese features covers of songs from the likes of Takuryo Yoshida, the Kai Band and Tulip.  It really doesn’t matter if you’re unfamiliar with the original versions as they’re all transformed into little pop-punk nuggets, although “Linda Linda” has a charming ska twist. It’s somewhat apt that the band finally got around to covering tunes from the home of karaoke, and the final product is delivered with plenty of enthusiasm, affection and fun.


Craig Hayes is based in Aotearoa New Zealand, and he is a contributing editor and columnist at PopMatters. Alongside his reviews and feature articles, Craig's monthly column, Ragnarök, traverses the metal spectrum. He is the co-author of PopMatters' regular metal round-up, Mixtarum Metallum, contributes to radio shows and numerous other sites, and he favours music that clangs, bangs, crashes, or drones. Craig can be found losing followers daily on twitter @sixnoises.

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20 Jul 2008
This is certainly better than some of the other questionable releases coming from the Fat Wreck Chords camp, but I'm still not sure there's a good reason for Have Another Ball! to be on record store shelves.
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