Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Love Their Country

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Me First and the Gimme Gimmes just can't get enough of other people's songs. The grabby bunch took their sledgehammer to pop and rock on their debut Have a Ball, show tunes got their come-uppance on Are a Drag, the '60s were sent reeling with Blow in the Wind, and R&B was smashed and grabbed on Take a Break. After that, the band took a break, at least from their studio; their fifth album was live. But now the demanding bunch are back, and this time, it's country that gets a kicking. More C&W-styled numbers are easy targets, be it the ever popular "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," which here gallops straight into hardcore, "Desperado," which will never escape this incendiary melodic punk rock arrangement, and "On the Road Again," which is delivered up in a similar sizzling style. "Jolene," having already suffered the indignities of a goth make-over, is now manhandled by the Gimmes, who storm Dollyland with utter abandon and a barrage of guitars and battering drums, all the better to keep their man -- hmm, shades of Brokeback Mountain. "Annie's Song" is dragged off of John Denver's country roads, and dumped center stage in the middle of a rock concert, which is just where it belongs. Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" gets even more inspired treatment, including a bagpipe! Even a seemingly straightforward punk do-over like "Goodbye Earl" provides some scintillating moments, from the Rancid meets the Clash styling to the bright harmonies and soaring lead guitar licks. The musicianship really shines through on this set, the guitars blaze, the bass becomes assaultive, and the rolling drums sound like the thunder of mortar in the distance, while the production is equally notable. But hey, the Gimmes can play country, too -- well almost -- the first half of "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" boasts some fine fingerpickin' guitar, although the country styling keeps sliding into surf: hey, your roots are showing, guys. Now this is country music everyone can enjoy, gimme more!

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