Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Have Another Ball!

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Billed as a "lost album" in a liner-notes story that involves danger, intrigue, and a Malaysian Quonset hut, Have Another Ball! features tunes by Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Diana Ross, and other past pop stars as re-imagined by Fat Wreck Chords' Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Whether this album was truly meant to be the original version of their 1997 release, Have a Ball, is questionable, but it certainly is a companion piece, with many of the same artists featured on both. That's not the only thread of familiarity -- the Gimme Gimmes give another frenetic performance here, as could be expected, and their enthusiasm for the material is palpable. Like the rest of its releases, the band is both passionate and tongue-in-cheek to some degree throughout Have Another Ball!, but the group is never derisive; the bandmembers love these songs too much to be so. Instead, they concentrate on adding their own flourishes to the songs they cover -- adding elements of "Blitzkrieg Bop" to James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend," turning the melancholic pedal guitar of "The Boxer" into a ringing punk riff, and appropriating a synthesizer introduction for use on electric guitar in a brilliantly executed version of Neil Diamond's "America" -- all while maintaining the same energy and glee that infused Have a Ball 11 years prior. But be warned: it all goes by quickly, perhaps too much so. Due to the tempo of the songs, the number of them included, or both factors, the album feels more like an EP than a full-length release. When the Gimme Gimmes hit "Only the Good Die Young," the ninth song out of 12, it feels as if they're just getting started. Still, the infectious, addictive nature of these gleeful covers is a testament to the group's enthusiasm and talent for tributes. Have Another Ball!'s brevity (it clocks in at just under 30 minutes) may necessitate repeated listens, but it's well worth playing the album as often as required.

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