There’s an age-old – if largely unfounded – argument that punk was a response to the sheer, unrelenting boredom of the mid 70s. In rejecting the moribund status quo, it seems, a generation decided to Do It Themselves, working from the very basics of rock ‘n’ roll to construct something new.
Now, that probably doesn’t work as a sociological treatise, but it acts as a neat sketch for Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s motivations behind this new covers record. A lockdown project designed to alleviate quarantine tedium, it also serves as a neat resume for some of his formative influences, throwing some deep cuts into the measure.
For the most part, it’s actually pretty entertaining. ‘No Fun Mondays’ is served without the bombast that has laboured over the past few Green Day records, opting for three chords, a snappy melody, and some playful teen angst lyrics. Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids In America’ is giving a rousing sing-along, while Wreckless Eric’s wonderful ‘Whole New World’ is performed with gusto.
There’s a sweet take on power pop codex ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ by The Rubinoos, while ‘Police On My Back’ - originally penned by Eddy Grant, no less – is a timely and astute pick. Indeed, there’s a rich Anglophile streak on the record, with Armstrong opting to cover everyone from Billy Bragg to late 70s cult heroes The Starjets.
It doesn’t always work, though. ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’ is a stodgy version of the Johnny Thunders war horse, his cover of ‘Manic Monday’ is simply surreal, and the punk’d up ‘That Thing You Do!’ is a curious take on the Beatles-esque original.
That said, taken as a whole ‘No Fun Mondays’ is a real blast. Music crafted for the unpretentious love of making music, it serves as a reminder that Billie Joe Armstrong’s fusion of punk and pop has always come from a profoundly genuine place.
Words: Robin Murray
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