We’ve all got a bunch of stuff on our shelves that just sit there. Books, DVD’s, video games, CD’s pile up and go untouched and unappreciated for years. Today I decided that I’ve spent too long neglecting the things I own so I’ll be experiencing them for either the very first time or the first time in a long time. My library, both physical and digital, is so vast that I’ll never be able to enjoy it all in this lifetime, but I can at least try.
Today’s neglected item pulled from the shelf: Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies – Ruin Johnny’s Bar Mitzvah
Media type: CD (digitally ripped to iTunes)
Originally released: October 19th, 2004
How long has it been on the shelf: The day it came out or very close to it
Very first time or first time in a long time: First time in a long time
The first thing I remember about this album when it starts is that I’m going to have to sit through some of the weirder songs in the Gimmie Gimmies songbook, namely O Sole Mio and Auld Lang Syne. If you aren’t familiar with the band then you can check out their Wikipedia Page, but the Cliff’s notes version is that they are a cover band supergroup that takes popular songs and does them in a pop-punk style. Featuring Spike Slawson from Swingin’ Utters, Fat Mike from NOFX, Chris Shiflett from Foo Fighters (and No Use For A Name), and Lagwagon’s Joey Cape and Dave Raun. By the time Ruin Johnny’s Bar Mitzvah had come out in 2004, the Gimmies had released four albums, each with their own theme, the 60’s/70’s inspired Have A Ball, the show tunes from Are A Drag, more 60’s hits on Blow In The Wind, and the R&B songs from Take A Break. When Johnny came out this was their chance to do a riff on the “live album”, with the entire thing being recorded at the actual Bar Mitvzah of a kid named Johnny Wixen (who appears on the record at the very beginning and the very end). The songs are a various collection of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s hits with commentary from the band between each song that has a certain stand-up comedy feel to it, with a lot of the jokes being both self deprecating about their current status in the music industry and also their arrogance in regards to how “famous” they are. It’s all very tongue in cheek and plays really well with the theme of the album.
It was interesting listening to this as a full album again. In the digital age of iPods and Napster, I was used to just taking the songs I liked most from each CD I owned and then putting the entire library on shuffle. It had been probably 14 years since I actually listened to this album in its entirety, and it’s something I miss in this world of singles and playlists. However, the drawback is that you do have to listen to the songs you aren’t really into. As I mentioned earlier, there are some weird songs on here, but I also don’t really care for Delta Dawn, On My Mind and Take It On The Run. There are some really bright spots, with Come Sail Away having a very hard, fast beat, a quite lovely rendition of Stairway To Heaven, and what I think is the stand out track on the album, a cover of The Carpenters lovesick ballad Superstar.
All in all I had a great time going back to this album and it’s reminded me that Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies are one of my favorite bands. The group has continued to put out more albums covering country music, and a very good album in which they perform songs originally sung by divas (look up their version of Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, you’ll be glad you did).
Bonus item from the shelf: Space Harrier 2
Media type: Video game (digital copy)
Originally released: August 14th, 1989
How long has it been on the shelf: A few months
Very first time or first time in a long time: First time
When I was a kid the Sega Genesis was the “big kid” console, and I didn’t want one until much later in its life. I missed a ton of stuff from the late 80’s/early 90’s, and found the arcade-y style not quite suited for my tastes. I wanted bigger games on my consoles, not these short bursts that could be completed in just a few minutes. Now that I’m older I have a better appreciate for these types of games and what they can provide, a fun few minutes that can extend to hours after trying over and over again to either beat your high score or get to the next area. Space Harrier 2 is played on a single screen as enemies and obstacles come flying towards you. Dodging these is key to victory, as you must then contend with a boss who will pummel you with projectiles relentlessly, meaning you need as many lives left as possible. Thankfully Space Harrier 2 is forgiving enough to allow you to select your stage at the beginning of the game, meaning you can essentially continue on the level you last died on, but in a feat that is near impossible, in order to get to the secret 13th level you must beat all 12 levels first in one go, and only then will you get the true ending. I had no desire to do this though, because as much fun as it was playing this game (and it’s a lot of fucking fun), I’m not a masochist.
I hope you enjoyed this, it was a lot of fun going into my back catalog and pulling out some treasures. I’d like to do this a couple times a month, or whenever the mood strikes me. It would be great to hear about any old content you’ve had sitting on your shelves and why aren’t you playing/watching/reading/listening to them. Till next time, see you in the video game section of your favorite secondhand store!