It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Me First and the Gimme Gimmes released their first album of punky covers of non-punk songs, 1997’s Have a Ball. Seven albums and many shiny shirts later, the Gimmes have arranged and performed enough tributes—from Elton John to Barbra Streisand to Boyz 2 Men—to compile a greatest-hits album, appropriately titled Raking It In: The Greatestest Hits.
On Monday, the four-piece edition of the Gimme Gimmes (Spike Slawson, Scott Shiflett, Joey Cape and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley) crashed the Paste Studio in New York City to play four tunes with very different pedigrees. The session was bookended by renditions of the Kinks’ “Something Better Beginning,” led by Slawson’s soulful tenor and punchy ukulele, and Nancy Sinatra’s theme from the 1967 Bond flick You Only Live Twice.
Sandwiched in the middle were two smashes from the 1970s and ‘80s. First, a heartfelt rendition of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” which the Gimmes dedicated to the Brooklyn-born crooner and his recent announcement that he is gay.
“We being good San Francisco boys, we wanted to celebrate his life, especially the recent revelations with regard to his feelings about the beans and the frank,” said Slawson. “We want to celebrate his life and his decisions, and we want to enjoy some delicious moments, just like it says on the side of the pizza box.”
And here’s an exclusive clip of Manilow performing “Mandy,” his first No. 1 hit, in 1975, from the bottomless Paste Cloud.
Up next from the Gimme Gimmes was a faithful rendition of Madonna’s 1985 smash hit “Crazy for You,” which appeared on the group’s 2014 record, Are We Not Men? We Are Diva!