classic albums: the ramones

The roll call of the CBGB avant-garde is impressive: Suicide (despite the fact they never really liked the place much), Televisionthe Dead Boysthe Cramps, Wayne County & the Electric ChairsRichard Hell & the Voidoids, and so many other important bands of that era; a great and diverse collection of talent and originality. And there was also Blondie, and Talking Heads, and the Ramones, who made that dumpy little bar in the Bowery legendary, and helped sow the seeds of a major cultural movement that was taking shape in New York City in the mid/late-1970s. Musically, they were all very different. But they were all in their individual ways part of the same reaction to the mainstream success of ‘the safe’, the conformist, and perceived pretensions, of prog-rock bands like ELP, Genesis, Yes and King Crimson

In an interview with UNCUT magazine, Tommy Ramone put it like this: “In its initial form, a lot of [1960s] stuff was innovative and exciting. Unfortunately, what happens is that people who could not hold a candle to the likes of Hendrix started noodling away. Soon you had endless solos that went nowhere. By 1973, I knew that what was needed was some pure, stripped-down, no-bullshit rock ‘n’ roll”

I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

Something immediate, something raw. Punk was confrontational, subversive and supercharged; like the Ramones. There aren’t too many bands more associated with CBGB than the Ramones. They were fast, and they sounded deceptively simplistic. Soon, a lot of bands would sound just like them. They played their first show there in 1974. The audience consisted of two, one of whom was Alan Vega. After the show, he went up to Johnny and told him the Ramones were the band he’d been waiting for

I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement

“When we first started there was no place we could play, so we ended up on the Bowery,” said Tommy Ramone, the group’s first drummer and only surviving original member. “It ended up a perfect match”

“Basically, the Ramones handed back to people their right to be a musician and write songs, write folk poetry, and all that. It was like a gift, because the general thinking then was that you had to have a wall of Marshall amps, which cost $10,000, and you had to be this virtuoso, otherwise forget about making your own music. Groups like the Ramones just came in and blew that notion away. They empowered a whole new generation to start doing radical culture. Pretty much in reaction to the completely moribund consumerist culture that the sixties had turned into” – V Vale, Search & Destroy

‘Clocking in at just under twenty-nine minutes, Ramones is an intense blast of guitar power, rhythmic simplicity and ferocious brevity, a complete rejection of the spangled artifice and hollow, artsy pretensions of 1970s rock. The songs were fast and anti-social, just like the band: “Beat on the Brat,” “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” Guitarist Johnny Ramone refused to play solos – his jackhammer chords became the lingua franca of punk – and the whole record cost just over $600 to make. But Joey’s leather-tender plea “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” showed that even punks need love’ – from Rolling Stone (No. 33 in their 500 Greatest Albums)

‘The Ramones’ first four albums – recorded between February 1976 and autumn 1977 – stand together as the most toweringly aggressive, misleadingly primitive, perfectly phrased musical statement ever made’ – April Long, NME

The Ramones Ramones 1976. Joey Ramone (vocals), Johnny Ramone (guitar, backing vocals), Dee Dee Ramone (bass, backing vocals), Tommy Ramone (drums)
  1. Blitzkrieg Bop
  2. Beat on the Brat
  3. Judy is a Punk
  4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  5. Chainsaw
  6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
  7. I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement
  8. Loudmouth
  9. Havana Affair
  10. Listen to My Heart
  11. 53rd & 3rd
  12. Let’s Dance
  13. I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You
  14. Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

53rd & 3rd

‘I love this record – love it – even though I know these boys flirt with images of brutality (Nazi especially) in much the same way “Midnight Rambler” flirts with rape. You couldn’t say they condone any nasties, natch – they merely suggest that the power of their music has some fairly ominous sources and tap those sources even as they offer the suggestion. This makes me uneasy. But my theory has always been that good rock and roll should damn well make you uneasy, and the sheer pleasure of this stuff – which of course elicits howls of pain from the good old rock and roll crowd – is undeniable. For me, it blows everything else off the radio: it’s clean the way the Dolls never were, sprightly the way the Velvets never were, and just plain listenable the way Black Sabbath never was. And I hear it cost $6400 to put on plastic. A ‘
– Robert Christgau 

Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

One thought on “classic albums: the ramones

  1. Pingback: Imaginary Misfits/Ramones Cover Band Set List | World (and Lunar) Domination

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