Album Review: Me First and The Gimme Gimmes – “Sing In Japanese”

This is just weird. Yes, the title of the album is “Sing In Japanese” so I understood the concept but since I’ve been listening to Me First And The Gimme Gimmes since first hearing them do a Billy Joel song on a Punk-o-Rama cd, I had to check it out. Now that I’ve heard it… I’m not sure exactly how to review it.

I’ve never heard the original versions of any of these songs so I can’t tell you how they’ve sped them up or changed the style. Except that they are still incorporating familiar punk music into some of the songs. “Kekkon Shiyoyo” starts out with the guitar intro from Social Distortion’s classic “Story Of My Life” and the opening of “C-C-C” and “Kokoro No Tabi” are familiar, I just can’t quite place them (anyone know?).

And with very few english words spoken on this e.p. I can’t tell you if they’ve altered some lyrics to give them a more x-rated spin (like the sodomy line in “Only The Good Die Young”) or that they threw the word fuck in a kids song (“Favorite Things) or that they are singing songs originally written for a woman (too many examples to name).

I guess all that I can tell you is that this is a pretty solid Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s ep, but not my favorite by far. This one ranks at the bottom of my list but that is simply because, for the most part I have no idea what the hell they are singing about and I like to enjoy both the music and the lyrics (I’m not a big fan of instrumentals either but that’s a whole different conversation). If you happen to understand Japanese or don’t care what someone is singing about, this may be an awesome cd but to me it’s just so-so.

Musically, The Gimme’s are really on the ball with this one. The songs are played tight and fast, with the exception of “Linda Linda” which has a slower reggae vibe for most of the song and this ep sounds a little more produced than the last one, “Go Down Under”. That one hand a more garagey quality to its sound, where this one sounds like some extra time was spent in the studio.

This record was released to coincide with a Japanese tour and I’m guessing that it will sell pretty well over there but it’s not a disc that I’m going to be listening to all that much. As an experiment, or a goof or just a change of pace, I think “Sing In Japanese” was a big success but I listen to the Gimme’s to hear songs that I already know covered (and sometimes destroyed) by a punk band. So if I’ve never heard the song, it just doesn’t have the same effect. I do have a couple of friends who I plan on playing this ep to though, I think they’ll get a kick out of it.

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