Me First and the Gimme Gimmes 

Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah

While the connection between Styx and punk rock might seem elusive, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes -- an all-star punk cover band featuring members of NOFX, the Swingin' Utters, and Lagwagon -- have managed to bring together these two disparate musical forces by transforming irritating songs that all true punks should despise into sleek punk-rock anthems. But the Gimmes' dream gig had not yet been realized until Randall Wixen, who handles the group's music publishing, asked the band to perform at his son Jonny's bar mitzvah reception. The Gimmes donned silly powder-blue suits and red kepahs and brought along a recording and camera crew. This was a reception you'll wish you would have been at: one where thirteen-year-olds slammed with their grandparents. The short bit of video included on the CD shows some attendees doing the awkward dance moves that one only witnesses at bar mitzvahs, weddings, or really bad parties. During the Gimmes' rendition of "Hava Nagila," Jonny is hoisted up in a chair as the crowd circles him, dancing the hora.

As for the tunes, Spike Slawson croons a lovely rendition of "O Sole Mio," his articulation of both Italian and Hebrew very impressive. The band also knocks out a credible version of Billy Joel's forgettable "The Longest Time" and a mercifully abridged take on Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." The CD booklet includes a very funny description of the scene by a fictional kid, Benjamin Rosenblatt, who says that Jonny's bar mitzvah was just okay, but not nearly as good as when Sheila Wasserman's bat mitzvah was invaded by math-metal freaks. "Finally, the band played 'Hava Nagila' and everyone cheered and danced," he writes of the Gimme Gimmes experience. "They played it pretty good, but I liked Mudvayne's version better."

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