America's greatest cover band keeps finding new worlds to conquer, and on their fifth album Me First and the Gimme Gimmes present a unique ethnomusicological document -- a field recording of our heroes performing at an actual Bar Mitzvah celebration in Malibu, California (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah features the Gimme Gimmes performing a selection of classic rock standards as only they can (fast, loud, and with a high snot factor) as they roar through "Come Sail Away," "The Longest Time," "Take It on the Run" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" for a seemingly puzzled audience of thirteen-year-olds and their parents. Of course, these guys make it their business to have something for everyone, so they also throw in a little bit of country music ("Delta Dawn"), an old Italian favorite ("O Sole Mio"), and not one but two versions of "Hava Nagila"! Pretty much everything is on-board reduced to a blurry haze of power chord hilarity, which is certainly true to form for the Gimme Gimmes, but the one-take live recording (complete with a set break) shows these guys have truly mastered their shtick by this point, and beneath the goofy surface of their style they have a strong grasp of what makes for a good hook and a cool tune, regardless of genre. It's not the same without the presence of the ice cream bar, but Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah is the next best thing to being there (and the enhanced video track allows you to witness the action first hand). So how much do these guys get to play a retirement party?
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming