Farewell, Sweet Caroline

We here at The Groove were devastated to hear of Mr. Neil Diamond’s recent Parkinson’s diagnosis and subsequent retirement from the stage. In true Neil Diamond fashion, it is reported that he will continue to write and record, but his legendary live performance days are now an historic thing of the past. He turned 77 yesterday. Farewell, sweet Caroline.

Gold-ish

Neil Diamond struck it rich with his 1970 live album, Gold. This is a 1973 reissue, but the material is the same as that on the original 1970 album (for those caring to know such things). The material was recorded on July 15, 1970 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles (a great, and relatively small venue). It’s a great listen, but don’t take my word for it. Extinct trade magazine Cashbox had this to say in October of 1969: “On stage Diamond radiates the same excitement that has made pop stars from Sinatra to Presley, and it’s a sensation that can’t be described, only felt.”

Me & Julie Down by the Bowling Alley

Me First CoverEvery so often the (pitcher beer ordering) mood for late 90s pop punk versions of mid 70s radio hits rolls down the cherry wood lane of life and lands a perfect strike (phew… that came desperately close to being a run-on sentence… I miss those).  Times like this, it’s comforting (although not really) to know Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is good for a round, and some damn good classic covers.

This, their first full-length released on Fat Wreck Chords back in 1997, features pop punk-ified versions of John Denver, Kenny Loggins, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond and some other hit-making individuals of considerable musical talent. Covers, not unlike Social Security, are the third rail of musical politics. On one hand, paying homage to a classic can be somewhat of a respectful gesture, but on the other hand, these lazy, talentless bastards could just be riding the coattails of other, more innovative artists. Lucky for all involved with today’s post, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is comprised of a lucrative series of already established bands, so the results are smooth and well produced.

Me First VinylAllow me to introduce you to the band:

Vocals: Spike Slawson (of the Swingin’ Utters)

Lead Guitar: Chris Shiflett (of No Use for a Name and Foo Fighters… in that order, the order of importance)

Rhythm Guitar: Joey Cape (of Lagwagon)

Bass: Fat Mike (of NOFX fame, also the owner and operator of Fat Wreck Chords)

Drums: Dave Raun (of Lagwagon)

A pop-punk all-star band if ever there was one, Me First is deserving of a listen from fans of that 70s drawl, and bay area pop-punk. Now, set up those bumpers and let’s go bowling (courtesy of The Prudent Groove Lanes Across America Bowling League*).

*Does not exist