Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Less Than Jake|
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Roger from LESS THAN JAKE now has another band called REHASHER... check 'em out!
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Roger from LESS THAN JAKE now has another band called REHASHER... check 'em out!
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Laugh? I Greased, er Creased Up!
Chris Pollard | UK | 03/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are some bands who should be locked up for their own safety. Not because they're that bad, but because they are having far too much fun doing what they do, and it's just not fair. I mean, if you're better looking than me (this covers a lot of people, but there you go), better musicians than me (this covers pretty much everyone), better singers than me (er, so does this), more talented songwriters than I am (same theory), earn more money than me (ditto) and attract more women than I do (do I need to say it?), then I want you to be unhappy. It's nothing personal, you understand, I just want to be seeing something negative, just to bring the balance a little way back in my favour. Florida based ska-punk band Less Than Jake, sadly, don't know about this theory of mine, and would probably stick two fingers up at it if they did. Actually, more like twenty-four fingers (six band members, two hands each, you know?) Which is more or less what they've done here. They've taken the Grease soundtrack. They've thrown a few things away. Mostly the music, to be honest. But they've hung onto the lyrics, they hung on to eight of the songs, and they recorded them in their own style, tweaking the lyrics occasionally, speeding everything up, and slinging them onto a CD in an order which, I suspect, was chosen by drawing song titles out of a hat. This album fell in my lap pretty much by chance. It wasn't really an impulse buy, but it wasn't exactly what I'd set out to buy that day. I'd first heard of Less Than Jake when the totally brilliant but improbably titled "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads" started getting a lot of plays on M2. I bought the album (1198's "Hello Rockview") to discover that this was typical of both their sound, and their title selection. So, a little while later, with some money in my pocket, I decided to go looking for some more Less Than Jake material. Standing in HMV, I spotted this album, reduced to £9.99, and picked it up to have a look. It's not often that a CD can have me laughing before I played it, much less before I've even bought it, but a simple glance confirmed that this looked like eight songs from the "Grease" soundtrack. I had to have it! So I did! I took it home, I put it on. For sixteen minutes, I listened and I laughed. After that, I hit "play" again. For another sixteen minutes, I listened and I laughed. This went on for some time. Then my flatmate came home. She listened and laughed. We invited friends over. They listened and laughed. See what I mean about a band having too much fun? "Summer Nights" Of course, in the film, this was the big opening song. Split into two parts, with John Travolta and his gang singing one side, and Olivia Newton-John and the ladies singing the other. It wasn't really a terribly serious song (the old "can she get me a friend?" line proves that) and a little quicker than a ballad, apart from the last verse and the ending. And then you give the song to Less Than Jake. The lyrics are more or less intact, but the song is a lot louder, with the guitars very strongly to the fore, and it's about three times the speed of the original. It's still split into the two parts, but of the six members of the band, only one of them is a woman, and she doesn't get to sing too many of the lines. The end result is that you have two guys mostly singing these parts, whilst the song is shortened to only two minutes long. The slower bit towards the finale is still there, but has an electric guitar overlaid, and the very ending is very loud indeed and, to the band's credit, they don't try to hit the long notes that John and Olivia did, they just play out instead. It's very silly indeed, and really just a taste of things to come! "Tell me more, tell me more/How much dough did he spend?/Tell me more, tell me more/Can she get me a friend?" "You're The One That I Want" This was one of the numbers towards the very end of the film, after Sandy's transformation. It's the second song on this album. This is what I mean about the running order being left to chance. Actually, the band supposedly chose the running order of 1996's "Losing Streak" using a Magic 8-Ball toy. It wouldn't surprise me if they used the same technique here! The original version was an up-tempo number, with the kind of intro which makes it perfect for family parties, as both you and your mother will know it straight away, and the kids can run and hide before she gets to the dance floor. The original was just John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John singing to each other about how they want to be together. Well, the intro, and the lyrics are mostly the same, with one fairly obvious alteration. It's not noticeably quicker than the original version, and the basic song structure remains unchanged. The main problem is that the whole song is sung by the same person, so you don't get any feeling that there are two people singing to each other. The "do-do-do - honey" bits remain in, but are treated almost as a joke, rather than a part of the song, and the vocals are almost shouted, rather than sung, which takes something away from the overall mood of the song. A lot of the romance has been taken out of the song, and it's less effective in that respect than the original, but it's not too far away from the film version. "Better take my direction/Feel your way (that's pretty gay)/You better shape up..." "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" This is the girls' number in the film, taking the mickey out of Sandy, after she's proved herself to be uncool at the slumber party. It's the girls having a bit of a bitching session, behind Sandy's back. The song, in the film version is mid-tempo. Well, this was never the longest song in the film. It's Less Than Jake duration? Sixty-one seconds! As with a lot of the slower numbers on this album, it's speeded up a great deal (I would love to see the Beats Per Minute comparisons, I can tell you), although most of the lyrics again remain intact. If you can call it that! It has a loud electric guitar intro, before kicking into the vocals, which again are more shouted than sung. The verses seem to run into one another, rather than there being a brief pause between them. Because of the way the song is done, it doesn't sound quite so much as if it's an insult as in the film version, but is still a fun song. "Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee/Lousy with virginity/Won't go to bed `til I'm legally wed/I can't I'm Sandra Dee" "Greased Lightning" Even if you've never seen the film, you probably know this song from family parties. It was sung by the guys, led by John Travolta, as they're hanging around the car shop, doing up a car. It's a fast paced song, and full of "boys and their toys" style lyrics which, as usual, are preserved. The horn section in the middle, and the handclaps are also preserved, and the pace is not a great deal different to the song. Apart from the fact that the song is more guitar led, it's difficult to see how this differs in any major way from the film version. The introduction is the same, although the vocals are not as good as John Travolta's, so the variations in some of the words (" it's hyyyyyydromatic", for example) don't stand out as well. It's maybe a little quicker than the original, but only very slightly, and this is the song on the album where you really notice that three members of the band are actually a horn section, as they really some to the fore here, especially during the choruses. The ending of the song is the same big, overblown finish as in the film. This is actually the longest track on the album. Two and a half minutes. Go figure! "You know I ain't bragging/She's a real pussy wagon/Greased lightning" "Hopelessly Devoted To You" This is where this album starts getting really, really silly. I mean, it was pretty silly to start with, but this is where the band cut loose and thrown all caution to the wind. If you're into that sort of thing, this is where you start giggling uncontrollably. If you love the film, this is where you throw your CD player out the window. You choose. I laughed! Again there's an irregularity in track placement, as this song immediately followed "Look At Me..." in the film. But it makes very little difference, as there's also an irregularity in the tempo of the song, the instruments involved and the gender of the singer. If you can think of the film version, make it as far different from that as you possibly can, and this is what you get. In the film, this was a sad ballad sung by Olivia Newton-John. A slow, heart-breaking (well, kind of) number, with some lovely understated backing music. Here? Forget all of that! The lyrics survive, but come at you three or four times as fast. The music is a loud guitar and drums, the vocal is a male lead, again almost shouting, and the pace is so high, that there's not really enough time to realise that "her" heart is breaking, and that she's feeling the loss of knowing that he doesn't want you. "Mine's not the first heart to be broken/My eyes not the first to cry/You're not the first to know/There's just not getting over you" It never sounded less romantic, or less sad. Or funnier! "Blue Moon" No, not "Blue Moon"!!!! It's a classic! You can't mess about with "Blue Moon". Oh, you can. OK then. I think that was one of the songs used at the high school dance. It's been a long time since I've seen the film, and I can't actually place this song like I can the others. It's a bit of a worry, to be honest. No, not that I've forgotten where this one goes, but that I've remembered where the other seven do! The original version of this song was quite a slow number, about making a wish to the moon when you're tired of being alone. Like a number of 50's and 60's songs, it ended up with a happy ending. There were quite a few backing vocals top augment the lead vocals. Lots of "dip-de-dip-de-dip" and "ooh-ooh-ooh" and the like. Of course, this version is several times faster than the original, but you knew I was going to say that didn't you? As usual, the lyrics, even the backing vocals, have remained more or less unaltered. However, the vocals are louder and less measured, which takes something away from the song. It leads straight into the vocals, rather than having the accapella style intro, and there are some parts where the backing vocals (actually, now I think about it, wasn't the whole song done accapella?) have been replaced by instruments for effect. Not really an improvement, but messing with classic tracks is always dangerous. "Blue moon, you saw me standing alone/Without a dream in my heart/Without a love of my own" "Beauty School Dropout" In the film, this was Frankie Valli singing to the character who had left high school to work in a beauty parlour, with very little success. I can't remember her name. Anyone? Worryingly, I seem to recall that she was one of very few characters who survived to appear in "Grease 2". My memory is starting to scare me. In much the same way as "Look At Me..." the whole song is an insult, aimed at this person. Telling her than she's no use whatsoever, and that she needs to go back to school. It's a slower paced number, in an overdone kind of way. This is possibly the only song from the film that Less Than Jake have actually improved upon. The introduction and the ending are fairly slow, in keeping with the original, although the end has a ska/reggae guitar over it, which sounds pretty strange if you know the film. After the first verse, the song speeds up, as with all the others, again leaving the lyrics intact. The improvement Less Than Jake have made is that the vocals are slightly off-key, and have a rougher edge than Frankie Valli, combined with the singer chopping off the ends of some of the lines, making them more abrupt. The end result is that this actually sounds a lot more insulting, and therefore a lot more fun to listen to, than the original. That version was merely chastisement and advice, this version is knocking lumps out of the poor girl's dreams. The fact that the introduction and ending are slower and more understated, in keeping with the original, makes the middle part sound even more like an insult. "They couldn't teach you anything/You think you're such a looker/No customer would go to you/Unless she was a hooker" "We Go Together" This is the big closing number from the film. The whole cast gets involved, and there's a lot of nonsensical lyrical bits, which seemed to be in style in the 1960's, when the film was set. Please tell me I'm not the only one that remembers "Who put the bop in the bop-she-bop-she-bop". There's a similar sort of theme going through this. It was a big, faster paced song, a huge feel good type song, as you'd expect from a teenage film with a happy ending. It's at a similar pace to the original, and although the music is a lot more drums and guitar led and more up front than the original, it doesn't differ too much musically from the film version. But, this time, the band have a bit more fun with the lyrics. Not the normal ones, but the nonsense lyrics. You could almost see it coming really. There's a section in the middle of the song which is virtually all "bop", "chang", "showaddy" and the like, and the band just make fun of that whole section. Chang, chang, changety, chang-de-bop/Chang, chang, changety, chang-de-bop/What the hell does that mean?/I don't know/A wop-bop-a-lo-bop, a wop-bam-boom!" There will be two groups of people with this album. If you are a dedicated fan of the film "Grease" and everything to do with it, then you will probably be mortally offended by this album. If, however, you quite like the film, but not enough to defend it to the death, or if you happen to like the band, you will find this album hilarious. Even the cover artwork is a cartoon of a couple of the band in the "Grease" style dress - him in a black jacket, her in a pink blouse. This album is probably the recording equivalent of the average teenager. It plays all of its' songs too loud, it sings dreadfully, and it shows absolutely no respect to its' elders, betters or predecessors. Every time I listen to it, I'm stunned that the band got permission for this to be released, or haven't been gunned down by Olivia Newton-John. It's not really an album for the music lover, either. The vocals aren't all that good, the music is loud, but doesn't seem to have any real direction, and it takes good songs and fails miserably to improve upon them. The vocals in the film were clearer, the music fitted in better with the songs. It was all sanitised. This is what you get if you throw the film soundtrack in the mud for a week. It's not pretty, but it sure is fun! And that really is the only reason to buy it - for the novelty value! At £10 for sixteen minutes music, this is not what you would call value for money, even more so if you're paying a higher price for it, such as the £11.99 it's listed for at Amazon right now. It cost me about 62 pence a minute, which means this album earns money nearly as quickly as an IT specialist. However, as far as entertainment value goes, it's virtually priceless. If you're into rock music, you have to have this album, and if you thought "Grease" was an extremely tacky film, you have to have this for the endless (just hit that repeat button!) fun you can have with it. If you like the film, stay well clear, or complain to your MP or something. Me? Well, I'm just going to go and laugh at it a little more..."
Good fun while it lasts.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Nottingham, England | 03/19/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This album (which has finally been reissued) sounds pretty much how you would expect it to sound. It is a collection of 8 of the best known songs from the Grease soundtrack covered in Less Than Jake's quirky upbeat ska punk style. Despite the fairly weak production, it is all good fun and you will find yourself singing along with every word. My only problem is that at only 15 minutes in length it is a little short, but if you are a huge LTJ fan then I don't think you will be disappointed."
Less Than Jake's GREASED Rocks!
Meg Enoka | San Francisco, California | 12/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love the movie, Grease, you dig the soundtrack, and you're an avid fan of Less Than Jake then you will love this album! But listen closely for some special Less Than Jake additions to the songs. It'll make you laugh and sing along!"