With a purebred punk pedigree and more than 20 years of punk-meets-everything-else cover albums and singles under their belt, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, the festive fivesome of bassist Fat Mike (NOFX), lead guitarist Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters, No Use for a Name), rhythm guitarist Joey Cape (Lagwagon), drummer Dave Raun (Lagwagon), and vocalist Spike Slawson (Swingin’ Utters), have trimmed their impressive back catalog down to 17 of their most fun and explosive tracks. If you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack to fuel your next punk rock karaoke party, look no further than Rake It In.
The tracklisting does a fantastic job of showcasing just how diverse the band’s range is when it comes to the multiple genres they’ve tackled over the last two decades. Represented here are tracks from their R&B album (“I Believe I Can Fly” and “End of the Road”), their country album (“Jolene” and “Desperado”), their 1960s album (“All My Loving” and Sloop John B”), and their showtunes album (“Over the Rainbow” and “Summertime”), as well as their artist-dedicated singles featuring tracks originally performed by Willie Nelson, Billy Joel and Kenny Rogers.
On the surface, the concept behind most punk rock cover albums is a charmingly fun idea that can quickly run its course if not handled with a little imagination and innovation. For their part, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes nail the main idea of taking a well-known song and filtering it through an energized, pedal-to-the-metal approach. This can be heard on straight-ahead tracks like John Denver’s “Country Roads” (from their very first 7” single Denver from 1995), The Muppet Movie’s “Rainbow Connection,” and “City of New Orleans” (previously only available on vinyl via their Willie 7” single).
However, one of the most interesting and unique aspects of the band is how they keep any threats of monotony at bay with instrumental changes – for example, a ukulele-led first half of “I Believe I Can Fly” and an organ-backed spoken word intro to “End of the Road” – and by doubling-down on the musical shout-outs by adding guitar-and-bass riffs from old-school punk songs into some of their covers, such as using 45 Grave’s “Evil” to open their cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” and playful tweaking the Ramones’ “Teenage Lobotomy” to kick off their “Sloop John B” cover. There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the majority – if not all – of the original songs presented on Rake It In, but Me First and the Gimme Gimmes make sure you’ve never heard them like this.