Do you like The Beatles?

Do you like punk rock?

Then you'll LOVE Ringo Starr's All-Nazi-Skinnhead Band!

no hang on

*special introductory paragraph!
*Beat The Punkles!
*For Sale!

The Punkles are a quartet (or 'foursome') from Hamburg, Germany who perform Beatles songs as if they were punk rock songs. In other words, they use lots of distortion on the guitars, often sing the vocals in a raw gravelly voice, and set most of the material against uptempo Ramones-style beats to keep the listener's head pogoing up and down, in a "pogo-punk" dance. Like The Rutles, The Punkles use pseudonyms, parody the Beatles image and artwork, and include historical falsehoods in their liner notes. The difference is that - and I love The Rutles, believe me - The Punkles kick ass. It's like listening to The Ramones doing a bunch of Beatles covers! But with a GOOD lead guitarist who can actually play things like the intro to "And Your Bird Can Sing"!

Having said that, I urge you not to look at the exorbitant grades I've awarded here and conclude, "Boy howdy! The Punkles are clearly one of the most innovative bands in history! Just look at those high grades!" Because remember - as always, the number grades are simply an indication of how much I personally enjoy the records. And with a concept this perfect, all The Punkles really have to do to earn high marks in my online book is:

(A) Cover Beatles songs.
(B) Play them as if they were punk rock songs.
(c) Not ruin them.

And hey! They pull it off! Yes, they're just a tribute band, but they're a tribute band that actually does something interesting with the material. They've pulled a few minor boners here and there (playing a few songs at their original midtempo speed, that sort of thing), but for the most part they've stuck to their glorious promise of combining the greatest single-band catalog of the '60s with the greatest musical subgenre of the '70s. And voila! You get "Stars On 45."

Beat The Punkles! - Bitzcore 1998
Rating = 9

'Twas 1998 when Punklemania hit full-force like a rocket over the world. Guitarist/singer Joey Lennon, bassist Sid McCartney, bassist Dee Dee Harrison and lovable geezer drummer Markey Starkey (or "The Fast Four") ripped right into the Beatles' early catalog from the go-get, double-timing it through 3 each from Please Please Me and A Hard Day's Night, 2 from Help!, 1 each from For Sale and Magical Mystery Tour (okay, that's not early. it's also not PUNKY, but I'll get to that in a minute), 1 single, 1 piece of amplifier noise with a title, and (as should have been expected) The Beatles' two German hits, "Sie Liebt Dich" and "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand." As an extra (stupid) bonus, the second half of the album was recorded "Live At The Hollywood Bowling Center," a hilariously stupid joke that still gets a dumb smile out of me to this day, and even pretty late in the day (it's just after 5 right now).

The first thing you'll notice upon putting this CD in your turntable is that the songs aren't really much faster than The Beatles' versions were to begin with. This is something we oft forget -- the early Beatles songs were actually already pretty fast! The Punkles just change the Ringo beat to the Ramone beat and crank up the volume. It sounds GREAT though - it's so exhilerating to hear these timeless melodies being sung atop a locomotive steam engine of loud guitar thrashing. Oh! That's another thing I should mention though. Although the next two albums sound a HELL of a lot like The Ramones in particular (except the vocals), this first one is more 'punk in general'-sounding. For example, the guitarists use a lot more palm-muting on here than Johnny Ramone would ever have agreed to. There are also a few songs where one of the guitars is very high-pitched and ringy so the other one (to compensate, I guess) plays the root notes along with it, as if it were a bass. By the way, apparently the band's original name was "Never Mind The Beatles." Whee!

I'll close with a few specific lowlights and highlights:

- (Lowlight) "All You Need Is Love" - This track represents my only complaint about The Punkles - it's the only example on this album, but they would do it more in the future. Yes, it's a great song and they play it very well, and yes they crank up the guitars as expected, but the song is played at the exact same goddamned speed as The Beatles' version! I don't speak any German except the word "umweltverschmutzung" so I can't communicate this to the band members, but could somebody please inform them that the world doesn't need any more straight Beatles covers? Speed 'em up or GET OFF THE BOAT! I don't literally think they're on a boat though. I was using a metaphor.

- (Lowlight) Although Ramonesed-up and rockin', "A Hard Day's Night" is marred by the band not realizing there's supposed to be a change between "Hard" and "Day's." Did they really think The Beatles would write a song that boring? (Besides "The Long And Winding Road"?)

- (Lowlight) Why is "The Silence Of The Amps" on here? If I wanted to listen to buzz, I'd go to Tae Kwon Do, thanks!!! (my head instructor is nicknamed "Buzz", is the joke there)

- (Lowlight, But Only For A Second; Then It Becomes A Highlight) The otherwise awesome, headbanging "Please Please Me" starts with a 'Hey! Ho! Let's Go!' intro that is far too polished and modern -- as if The Ramones had been on Epitaph. I WOULD RUE THE DAY!!!!

- (Highlight) They play the harmonica lick of "I Should Have Known Better" on guitar! It kicks ass! MY ass!!!

- (Highlight) They do quite a number on "I Saw Her Standing There," beginning the vocals with no music, adding bend-up notes on the thick heavy guitars, and contributing a new beach music riff during the bridge. I'm glad they don't usually fool around this much with the material, but as a one-off it's a lot of fun!

- (Highlight) They play the "Ticket To Ride" riff as a double-timed palm-muted riff to interesting effect. Not interesting enough to warrant an exclamation point though.

- (Highlight) 12 of these 14 tracks kick speedy punk rock Beatle ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm closed now. Go home!

Add your thoughts?

* Punk! - Bitzcore 2002 *
Rating = 10

With their second attack on America's most cherished traditions, The Punkles bring The Ramones' "fill every space with sound" guitar approach and doo-doo-chi-doo drumbeat to 3 With The Beatles tracks, 2 each from Help!, Rubber Soul and Revolver, and 1 each from Please Please Me, A Hard Day's Night and For Sale, plus 3 singles and even a solo John Lennon hit. No other Punkles album features such a wide range of source material! And for this reason, I award Punk! the coveted Mark(R) Prindle(TM) Award for Best Album By Band (Category: Punkles). Also, secondarily and of little importance, it's good.

Yes, 16 songs in 27 minutes is what you're "hep" for in "your bag" of "groovy" "can you dig it" today - 13 Beatles originals and 3 covers, for a total of 16 Beatles covers. I will angrily point out the record's two artistic decisions with which I disagree, and then we can get back into enjoying the phrase "kicks ass" a bunch of times again.

Their first decision that smokes a pole in my esteem was to perform "Drive My Car" as if the entire band were manually attached to Ringo's cowbell. It is not "punk" to make the entire song go "JANK! JANK! JANK! JANK! JANK! JANK! JANK! JANK!" If anything, it's "stunk." Which is the wrong verb tense but it rhymes with "punk," so you see the validity of my argument.

The second foul decision was to not ask the singer to redo his "I'm Down" vocals so that they're anywhere near the correct notes.

Otherwise, it KISS SACK!!!

Punk! has more songs than the first album, sounds more like The Ramones than the first album, features more humor than the first album, and includes more interesting stylistic ideas than the first album. And I'm talking about the first album by Al Stewart, but also I think all of these opinions may apply to the first Punkles album as well, though I haven't actively compared the two.

To get a feel of sort of dipping your toe in the water of The Punkles, imagine in your head right now what it might sound like if The Ramones had a more gravelly singer and performed the following songs - and I don't mean shittyass Acid Eaters performances, but like the way they did "California Sun" and "Do You Wanna Dance" and whatnot - "Love Me Do," "From Me To You," "Please Mr. Postman," "Give Peace A Chance," "It Won't Be Long," "All My Loving," "Rock 'n Roll Music," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy." You can hear it, can't you? Don't these songs nearly SCREAM to be played at you in the Ramones' style? They DO! Wait til you hear them!

And during the few instances when they aren't Ramonesing everything up, they do silly things like playing "Lady Madonna" as an oompah-punk tune, turning "Michelle" distorted and loud, converting "Yesterday" into a Sex Pistols parody with hilariously bad faux-snot-Brit-punk vocals, and letting Markey Starkey add his Lemmy-esque vocals to a hilarious acoustic ballad rendition of "Yellow Submarine" that has about 5 false endings. Also, "And Your Bird Can Sing."

So remember, if you have fond memories of Liverpool but also like to bang your head up and down like a man with tardive dyskinesia, look no further than The Punkles' Punk!! Also, of interesting note is the CD booklet's advertisement of a Punkles single featuring "Drive My Car," "Hold My Hand" and "Run For Your Life." First of all, "Run For Your Life" doesn't appear on any Punkles CD. Secondly and more excitingly, "Hold My Hand" is an F--in' RUTLES song, you fuckin piece a shit!!!

Huh? No no, I was talking to that segment of hardened fecal matter that Drew Barrymore uses as a marital aid.

Add your thoughts?

Pistol - Bitzcore 2003
Rating = 9

Look at this shitty joke I just made up at work on office time!

So this guy with a penis is walking through a shopping mall, when all of a sudden a woman stops him, starts yanking up and down on the penis, and asks "What IS this thing" He replies, "A penis!" And here's the kicker -- she retorts, "Then why is it crying?"

Perhaps I should explain.

You see, what happened was that when the man said "A penis," the woman - having never heard the term before - thought he was saying "Happiness!" And that's why she asked why it was crying when he reached his crisis and sperm fell out.

So you see, viewed in this light, it's actually a very funny joke, theoretically responsible for many, many laughs all over the world, bringing people together - Israelis and Arabs, Americans and Arabs, Arabs and Arabs with a slightly opposing worldview, yes this one joke truly did create a lasting world peace amongst all the Earth's people. Thank you, Penis Joke!

Here are some customer testimonials:

Hi, my name is Younus Mohamed Al-Hiyari. I just wanted to leave a note thanking Mark Prindle for the hilarious penis joke that changed my worldview such that I now view America not as "The Great Satan," but as "The Great Seitan," because I love tofu now too, they have some great dishes.

Hello, I'm Fidel Castro and the guy who's in charge now since I'm in the hospital. For years, I thought communism was the way to go. Me too, I'm that guy in Venezuela. But now we all agree that any system willing to oppress the potential creator of a hilarious penis joke is no system that we want any part of. From now on, instead of singing D.R.I.'s "Capatalist Suck" all the time, we're going to sing Murphy's Law's "America Rules." Unless they're being ironic, but I don't think they are.

Hi, I'm the Pope. Bring on the dick jokes! (And stop jumping in my car, you German assholes!)

And with that well-planned segue, let's move on to the third LP by German assholes The Punkles, entitled Pistol (PARODY OF REVOLVER). This album pushes our "Boys in Blue" towards the latter half of The Beatles' discography, allowing them the opportunity to introduce headbanging Ramones tempos to such previously not-fast-at-all songs as "I Am The Walrus," "Hey Jude," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" Indeed, Mr. County Prindle counts 3 singles, 2 each from Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be and The White Album and 1 each from Help!, Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band, Rubber Soul and For Sale. They also throw in an original composition of ill repute, up for discussion later on this page.

My point is that this is the first Punkles album on which they really DO speed up the songs significantly -- they HAVE to, because the Beatles' later songs were in general a lot slower than their early ones. Not that they became balladeers or anything; they just weren't as hyper anymore. Compare late-period ROCKKKER "Helter Skelter" to early-period ROCKKKER "She Loves You," for example. So yes, it is a great deal of fun to hear "Get Back" played with a ludicrous Ramones beat (and Ramones buzzsaw guitar!). And yes, "I'm Looking Through You" and "I'm A Loser" sound EXCELLENT with fast, fun driving 16th-notes pushing them along. And "Magical Mystery Tour" was already surprisingly speedy, but did you NOTICE? NOW you'll notice!!!

Although a terrifically entertaining, catchy and speedy release, Pistol unfortunately peters out a little at the end. Where Punk! signed off with a deliriously funny take on "Yellow Submarine," Pistol closes shop with one of the least inspired Beatle covers ever (Larry Williams' "Bad Boy") and a harmless but unnecessary Punkle-penned instrumental. Neither of these songs are terrible (which is why the album still earns a well-deserved 9), but what a let-down after an otherwise terrific Ramones album!

Also, the Style Enforcer inside me must object to their performing "Two Of Us" and the second half of "Hey Jude" at their original speeds. The harmony vocals on the former are pitch-perfect though, so it's hard to complain!

Notable artistic decisions this time out include:

- Replacing "Magical Mystery Tour"'s closing piano with echoey high-pitched guitar twiddles

- Rearranging "Day Tripper" such that bass and guitar both play the note riff as a heavy rhythm guitar rides the root chords.

- Changing the rhythm of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" to call out its melodic similarity to "25 Or 6 To 4"

- Converting the light bounce of "With A Little Help From My Friends" into a heavy full-band STOMP-STOMP-STOMP. I realize I complained about them taking this same approach to "Drive My Car" on the last record, but "With A Little Help" already HAD this rhythm; The Punkles simply make it heavier and quicker. With "Drive My Car," they threw it in out of nowhere when a good speedy doo-doo-chi-doo would have been much more appropriate and aurally pleasing drumbeat.

- Performing the first verse of "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" with bass and drums alone, allowing the second verse's guitar to interject a bit of dynamism that did not exist in the original version.

Replacing guitarist "Dee Dee Harrison" with "Captain O'Harrison." First of all, what's up with the "O'"? I get the Captain Sensible reference, but is the "O'" a reference to something I'm not catching? And secondly, I fear that this "Captain O'Harrison" is responsible for the inclusion of a lot more wanky lead guitar than before (especially during the lengthy codas of "Hey Jude" and "Get Back"), which is why I refuse to put a hyphen next to this observation and delineate it as a 'notable artistic decision.' More like a 'lazy shut-the-hell-up kiss-my-ass,' if you ask me! Not that that rhymes with 'notable artistic decision.'

Now for the original Punkles composition "Ha Ha Ha (Make Laugh Not War)," credited to Marc Zimmermann, Andi Schmidt, Gary Schmalzl & Rudi Huttinger. Did they just include it so they'd get some songwriting royalties? I can't think of any other reason to include what is essentially an instrumental performance of "Ballroom Blitz" with a lead guitar line tossed on top. Cannest thou?

That was me speaking German. I shall now continue.

Cannest thou umweltverschmutzung?

In summation, keep up the good work Punkles! And don't listen to ANYONE who taunts you with mean-spirited jibes like "If you're German, you're friggin' vermin!"

Or "I hate you, you worthless Jew!"

Or "Either that or you're a Nazi - you must be feeling hotsy-totsy!"

Or "Yeah, FUCK YOU! Take your reunification and blow it out your ass!"

(Copyright Mark Prindle/Low-Maintenance Perennials 1991)

You hear me? Just IGNORE ignorant racist taunts such as those!

Reader Comments

Jim Laakso
Wow! I'm glad you mention the similarity between "While My Guitar..." and "25 or 6 to 4." I always remember the great day when it hit me that those two and "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" all had big chunks that sounded kind of the same.

As far as the "O'" question, I betcha that's a Rutles joke (Stig O'Hara).

yeah. Not only those songs are similar, especially 25 or 6 to 4 and babe i'm gonna leave you, but there is a green day song which is an exact copy of the 25 or 6 to 4.

btw, why the punkles do songs like "please mr postman" and "rock and roll music"? I mean, they're covering covers?

Hi Mark,

I would think that the O' in Captain O'Harrison would probably have been inspired by John Lennon's aliases such as Dr. Winston O'Boogie, Dr. Winston O'Ghurkin, etc as seen in the sleevenotes to Walls and Bridges, for example.

Here, a blurb from Wikipedia:
Throughout his solo career, Lennon appeared on his own albums (as well as those of other artists like Elton John) under such pseudonyms as Dr Winston O'Boogie, Mel Torment (a play on singer Mel Tormé), and The Reverend Fred Gherkin. He and Ono (as Ada Gherkin "ate a gherkin", and other sobriquets) also travelled under such names, thus avoiding unwanted public attention.

Hey Mark,

Wanna know something that's really sad that I remember? The comical phonetic similarity between "a penis" and "happiness" was used as a big laugh line for Lily Tomlin in The Beverly Hillbillies movie.

The Punkles sound great! I'm going to check them out!

Add your thoughts?

For Sale! - Imperial 2006
Rating = 8

Another new album, another new Harrison guitarist. This time, it's Rat Harrison, in tribute to The Damned's legendary drummer Rat Scabies. As the wanking seems to have ceased, I surmise that my assumption was correct and O'Harrison was indeed to blame. However, if For Sale is any indication, I'm not sure that Rat is the most appropriate replacement. You see... this doesn't sound Jack Shit like The Ramones!

Oh okay, some of it sounds plenty Jack Shit like The Ramones, but for some reason they've (or is it "Rat" alone?) decided to play a lot of the rhythm guitar patterns as reggae- or ska-style "Jang! (space) Jang! (space) Jang! (space) Jang! (space)." It by no means ruins the songs, but it certainly kills any 'punk' aspirations they might have once had for "Come Together," "Ob La Di Ob La Da," "Let It Be," "Sun King" and "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window." Add to that the inexcusable 'original midtempo speed' approach taken to "Glass Onion," "Let It Be," "Polythene Pam," "Golden Slumbers" and "The End," and you've got the least punky and most disappointing Punkles release of all time. It's an absolutely atrocious record. I can't even look at it without a surge of vomit pouring out my nostrils. I give it an 8.

Okay, I was over-exaggeratingly hyperbolic there. There's plenty of speedy punk action on here, especially considering there are NINETEEN songs this time. It's just not quite as stunning a work as their others, due to the non-Punkley approaches I described above, as well as missteptakes like a surprisingly sloppy one-take version of "Back In The USSR" and the stupefyingly boneheaded decision to not bother singing harmony vocals in the otherwise worthless "One After 909." But enough of this negativity - I've probably already driven all my electron readers clear out of the room! Heh heh. Good old physics, and its humor.

Okay, so get this. The front cover depicts The Punkles in the middle of Abbey Road, and the album includes 11 songs from Abbey Road, including the famous side two medley. SO WHY THE HELL IS IT CALLED FOR SALE!?!??! THERE'S NOT A SINGLE GODDAMNED SONG FROM BEATLES FOR SALE ON HERE!!!!! Also, they play 4 White Album songs and 2 each from Let It Be and With The Beatles.

The saviour of the album is Markey Starkey. No matter how sloppy or ska-ey the others threaten to behave, Starkey's steady speedy beats keep a good 3/4nds of the record headbanging along at a proud Ramones pace - no mein feet considering that almost all of these songs were from the Beatles' last few years as a band! Perhaps the more laidback and refined nature of this latter-period songwriting was destined to prevent tracks like "Here Comes The Sun," "Come Together," "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" and "Octopus' Garden" from ever sounding like actual punk rock, but you'd never guess it by hearing Markey barrelling through them at Tom Erdelyi/Marc Bell/Richard Beau speed!

It must have been fun to learn the entire Abbey Road medley like this, but I fear the band's joy at performing the exercise may have overridden their attention to "The Punkles"' stylistic raison d'etre. It starts plenty great and speedy, believe me, but by the last three songs it really starts to feel less like "Abbey Road at Speedy Speed!" and more like "Wow! We're actually performing the entire Abbey Road medley!" "Golden Slumbers," for example, sounds like a band performing a cover of "Golden Slumbers" by The Beatles. AND WHERE THE HELL IS "HER MAJESTY"!? HOW GODDAMNED HARD COULD THAT HAVE BEEN TO LEARN!?!?!?

Jeepers, this is an incredibly negative review for an album I enjoy so much. But then again, as I said earlier, The Punkles already had all of their material written for them -- by the greatest pop rock band of all time. That alone guarantees a grade of at least 5 out of 10. Regardless, I will now get positive for you in praising a few terrific ideas that The Punkles Band came up with for your listening likingness:

- Adding additional notes to the "Come Together" bass riff to make it sound more like a punk bass line

- Using a gorgeous orange bright sunny guitar tone in the intro to "Here Comes The Sun"

- Adding a couple of intuitive yet previously non-existent chord changes to "I Wanna Be Your Man" to make it less repetitive and more Ramonesy

- Taking the time to learn and perform every backing vocal aside in "Ob La Di Ob La Da," then using speed manipulation to make the band sound like a bunch of 8-year-olds. (Most hilarious moment: "RING!")

- Singing the end of "You Never Give Me Your Money" as "1-2-3-4-5-6-7; all good CRETINS go to Heaven!"

- I don't know enough about music theory to explain what they do here, but in both "She Came In Thru The Bathroom Window" and "The End," they change a couple of finger-placements in key chords to make them sound more striking and beautiful.

So as you can see, saj;dkfj

Here's hoping The Punkles dump the ska and reggae influences (after all, who are they - The Reggaeles? Shit no! The Skales? Awww not unless they're a bunch of illiterate fish!) and bring us lots more Ramones Beatles songs to enjoy! Here are a few suggestions:

- "Revolution"

- "Revolution 1"

- "Revolution 9"

- "Revolution" by Tracey Chapman

- "No, It U, Lover!" ("Revolution" spelled backwards, and performed by Prince)

- That part in A Hard Day's Night where Ringo goes "Well if he's your grandfather, who knows ha ha ha." But put the word "revolution" in there somewhere

- An actual revolution, overthrowing the shifty ne'er-do-well dictator of Germany! "Umweltverschmutzung!" will be the rallying cry of an inconsolable youth generation as it boils helplessly over the edge into seethless toothing violence!!!!

- "Rocky Raccoon"

Add your thoughts?

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