Saturday, July 26, 2014

33. Ramones (1976) The Ramones




1. Blitzkreig Bop
2. Beat On The Brat
3. Judy Is A Punk
4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
5. Chain Saw
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


Before his untimely death in 2004, lead vocalist Joey Ramone was asked to rate the records he'd recorded in his career. When asked about Rocket to Russia he had this to say: "This was the best Ramones album—one great song after another. It has just the right balance of slow songs, ballads, and rockers." When asked about their self titled debut his comment was "After each take, the engineers would ask if I wanted to hear it back. I'd ask them how it sounded. "It sounded good." So I just said, "Okay, let's keep going."

That pretty much sums up how I feel about the Ramones work. I reviewed Rocket to Russia a while ago and really enjoyed it. It was the first Ramones album I'd heard all the way through and found myself mightily impressed. Consequently I had high hopes for The Ramones which accordingly to this list is a lot better. I was a bit disappointed. The strength of Rocket was definitely its variety. It's still recognizably the Ramones all the way through, it's not like there's some acid jazz fusion or long piano work tucked away towards the end, but even though it's the same four guys playing the same instruments for its entire running length, there are definitely changes of tempo and mood.

The Ramones however is pretty much a one-tempo affair. It starts off as a fast paced hurtle through some basic chords and continues that way for pretty much the entire album. Since the strongest piece of songwriting is the first track, the other 13 just sound like lesser copies. The band kicks off with with their best song and then spend the rest of the album trying to play it again but not doing it quite as well. To my mind Rocket to Russia is a much better listen. The variations in tempo create a much stronger album and Rocket's faster songs benefit from being mixed in with some slower tunes.

Even taken on their own merits however, I'd rate the songs on Rocket as stronger. Blitzkrieg Bop isn't nearly as good as the joyful Sheena is a Punk Rocker which gets stuck in your head and is a pleasure to have around. With the exception of Surfin Bird, which is one of the most annoying surfing songs ever written and not even the Ramones can improve, I'd take almost every track on Rocket.

So why is this here and Rocket isn't? Why is this the highest Ramones album on the countdown? I think it's related to the idea of influence. This was the first album, it was the one that started it all for the Ramones and helped launch their careers. Even though it sold badly at the time and it took a long time before it achieved classic status, it's still their first, and there's something about a debut album which has a sense of romance for so many. And the idea of four unknowns entering a studio and coming out with a classic album under their belt is definitely a tantalising one.

I'm not saying I hated The Ramones, I quite enjoyed it, but it was a let down after the pleasant surprise that was Rocket to Russia. Maybe you always enjoy your first Ramones album more, which explains why others have voted for this, but I suspect, and the internet research I've done suggests I'm right, that Rocket is a stronger album, this one is here because it pioneered something.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this is kinda bleeeeeh.i would get a headache after three songs.all their songs sound the same and yes i have gave the ramones a chance and they are bleeeeeeeeeh"

-That's a lot of e's in the that Bleeeeh. Possibly one too many I think. It might be overstating the case somewhat.

So how many e's does your response to the Ramones warrant? Let me know below.

2 comments:

  1. Isn't this the first punk rock album? A real argument-starter, I know, but they definitely beat Television, the Clash, Richard Hell and the Voidoids and the Sex Pistols to the record store. You're not going to find many punk albums that predate April of 1976. (Patti Smith's "Horses" being a notable exception. It gets kinda blurry before that, as to what is punk and pre-punk.)

    With the Ramones, I think it's all about the first three, maybe four, albums. That, to me, is their legacy, and I think those are the ones all but the most hardcore fans ever play. They get progressively better, musically, I suppose, but I think of those records almost interchangeably. It may be, with the Ramones, that it was all about keeping up a certain level of energy and attitude. You can kind of tell that falling off a bit with their fourth album, Road to Ruin.

    As for this first album, I quite love it Just looking at the track list, almost every song became a classic. It's like a greatest hits collection, which can't be said of the others. And it's so pure, so them, each song played hard and fast. (C'mon, dudes! We only have the studio until 4 p.m.! Let's get this thing done!)

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  2. Us wannabe guitarists love this kind of stuff because it seems with a bit of practice, and a few fights we could do have passable go at this.

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