In a year where the world has been forced to stay indoors, it’s no surprise we’ve all had to find new ways to entertain ourselves, and Green Day‘s frontman Billie Joe Armstrong is no different.
The punk rock godfather introduced us to his No Fun Mondays, whereby he would upload a cover of a song that he loves every week. As the COVID situation continued so did the covers, and he’s now released them into a compilation album, unsurprisingly called ‘No Fun Mondays’.
The album features all 14 tracks released between March and July, and there’s a brilliant mix between songs that most will recognise alongside a few which Armstrong felt deserved more recognition, one of these being ‘Corpus Christi’ by San Francisco band, The Avengers. His cover gives new life into this hidden 80s gem which delves into an anti-religious theme, one which Armstrong chose to ironically release on Easter weekend.
With an over 30 year career, you often wonder if Armstrong‘s talents can stretch any further. Then he delivers the extremely impressive ‘Amico’, a song that’s sung entirely in Italian (originally by Don Backy), and, even when having to perform in a whole other language he manages to sustain his vocals perfectly.
One of the most noticeable things throughout ‘No Fun Mondays’ is the recognition that’s given to so many songs originally performed by some powerhouse female legends. Kim Wildes‘ ‘Kids In America’ and The Bangles‘ ‘Manic Monday’ both stick heavily to their original formats, but it’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ that truly standouts out. It leans away from the pop-infused original by Tiffany and introduces some heavier riffs, turning it straight into a punk-rock hit. It’s no surprise that this was the first song that eagerly made fans want more from Armstrong.
Slowing down the pace, Johnny Thunders‘ ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around Memory’ really stands out as one of the best tracks on offer. Armstrong‘s vocals sound stronger than ever, a factor which often takes its toll over the years on musicians, but clearly he’s doing something right to sound just as great now as he did all those years ago.
As well as covering popular crowd pleasing hits, it’s nice to see Armstrong being able to recreate track that hold a special memory to him. ‘That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is inspired by the 70s heartthrob Shaun Cassidy track, which holds a special memory of him watching his sister dancing around the house to it when they were children.
Throughout the record there’s an evident presence of British punk influences. ‘A New England’ pays homage to punk rock icon Billy Bragg, and Wreckless Eric‘s iconic ‘Whole Wide World’ also gets a new lease of life for fans to discover the 70s punk rock hit.
As most of the covers on offer come as songs that have left an impression on Armstrong at some point in his life, most of these originate from punk, and in turn he hasn’t needed to alter them too much to suit his own personal sound. There are a few exceptions, though; ‘Gimme Some Truth’ was first released by John Lennon, and this transformation into a gritty punk track is an exciting revival. Likewise, ‘That Thing You Do!’ shifts from The Wonders cheesy titular soundtrack number from the 1996 film whilst still retaining the love song charm of the original.
As an unexpected 2020 release, ‘No Fun Mondays’ has been a small but exciting thing to look forward to each week, and the record acts as a capsule of this very strange time, especially as Green Day should’ve been embarking on their Hella Mega World Tour. But, whilst we all patiently wait for the live music to resume, these songs are a perfect way to continue your musical education.