I’d think that Me First and The Gimme Gimmes have got to be one of the country’s most well known punk bands, and not because they have amazing chops, although they’re a perfectly competent group of musicians, nor because they write such magnificent tunes – all they do is covers, after all – but simply because the good times inherent in punk covers never get old. They’re a fun band, performing fun music, in a fun style. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s netted them a wide, diverse audience. Spike Slawson, the lead singer of Me First… is launching a new project this year, called Uke-Hunt, and, judging from their debut 7″, The Prettiest Star, out the last week of this month, it looks like they’re going to be another cover group.
The title of the record, of course, is taken from the 1970 David Bowie single, a cover of which is the A-side on this 2 track single, while the B-side is a cover of the Michael Jackson song “Ben”, from the 1972 film about a swarm of killer rats. I don’t have a problem with either of these choices. They’re both sweet songs from talented song-writers, and while I tend to prefer Bowie over Jackson in general, the latter track gets a little bit of a bump in my personal charts because of its connection to the very strange film from which it gets its name, Listening to this record, though, I’ve just got to ask myself, “Why?” What made Slawson think that the world needed these two covers? There’s nothing wrong with either of them – they’re perfectly nice, with warm, comfortable arrangements based on ukelele (I assume that’s where the “uke” in the group’s name came from), and I even found myself impressed a few times with the singer’s range – he’s got a pretty decent voice, better than one might expect from the goofy Me First… records – but I just don’t hear where either of these tracks bring anything new or original to what was already accomplished with the originals, and not nearly as invitingly as what Slawson’s other band offers. Any reasonably talented karaoke singer could provide something of equal merit, and the bar would be a whole lot more fun. I can’t recommend this record as anything but a kitschy novelty – I’ll probably never listen to it again once I’ve finished this review – and I can only hope that the LP which is slated to follow later this year offers something more substantive. 5 stars out of 10.