Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review #44: The Ramones - Ramones (1976)


Year: 1976
Genre: Punk Rock
Label: Sire Records
Tracks: 14
Length: 29 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Happy/Funny/Weird
My Rating: 7/8

The earliest punk rock bands actually formed throughout the late '60s and the early '70s in New York. Examples of this are the Patti Smith Group, the Stooges, and the Velvet Underground. However, if described in a more popular point-of-view, the Ramones, as said by many, were the first punk rock band. Formed in 1974 in New York, they were America's answer to an age of boring, overcomplicated, pretentious rock n' roll. While originally intending to simply in a sense recreate the old fashioned rock music of the '40s and '50s, they ended up giving birth to entire genre called "punk rock". Simple beats. Three-chord riffs. Amateur vocals. At the time was rebellious, challenged social norms, and was universally despised by conformists adults of the previous generation and authority figures. For wearing your hair in a weird style or color with a jacket with buttons, pins, and/or spikes on it, you could be arrested or beaten. Back then, "punk rock" was weird music for weird people; they way it should be in a cooler world. Not long after they formed, other punk bands started forming all over the place as well, such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Blondie, the Damned, and the Runaways.

And if the Ramones were the first punk rock band, then this is the first punk rock album. It's called "Ramones". 'Cause that's the name of the band that made it. It's not called "Penises", or "Vaginas", or "Little Pieces of Hair on the Floor". It's called "Ramones". And it should probably stay that way 'er something. All of the songs on here are really simplistic. Like pop-songs, but in a less-stupid way. Or in a more-stupid way. Up to you, really. The songs are repetitive riffs and beats with oddball lyrics about sniffing glue, obsessive fans, Nazis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. Still, unlike their peers and admirers, the Ramones made light of any situation. Where a modern punk band would whine about something, the Ramones would make a cartoonish joke of it. The songs are very catchy.

1. Blitzkrieg Bop
The most famous Ramones song ever. Begins with the riff and beat, and then the classic chant of "Hi-Ho! Let's Go!". A lot of World War II-related lyrics, as common in Ramones songs. The funny thing is that this is my least favorite song on the whole album! Well, it's best to save the best for later, anyways. It's a good song, but let's go and see what's next...

2. Beat on the Brat
NOW we're talkin'! This is like an official badass anthem. The lyrics are simple: "Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat With a Baseball Bat!". The verse riff is awesome. The chorus asks the question "What can you do with a brat like that?". The song was supposedly inspired by a time that Joey Ramone saw a mother chasing her child around with a baseball bat. Funny story. Longest song on the record.

3. Judy is a Punk
One thing I never got about this one: the title is "Judy is a Punk", but in the actual lyrics, they say "Jackie is a PUNK, Judy is a RUNT". Maybe those are interchangable terms. Hell, maybe we need some RUNT-Rock. This song was based on two real-life highly-obsessed fans, Jackie and Judy. It was cited as "prophetic", for in the chorus, the line is "Perhaps they'll die, oh yeah..." -- the two did indeed die in a plane crash. Shortest song on the record.

4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
The obligatory love/pop-song. It's a little slower than the last few, and the main line is "Hey little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend". A lot of "ooh-ooh-ooh"s goin' on. Sounds like something fitting for a beach in the evening. The song eventually fades out.

5. Chain Saw
This one's based on the horror film "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (a good movie, I might add!). Begins with a soundclip of an actual chainsaw, until the "wowowow"s and riff and beat break in. They pronounce "massacre" different than me. In Ohio, I say "mass-uh-ker". They say "mass-ah-kree". Maybe they're doing it the right way. Makes more sense, to be honest. Ends with Joey going "Oh No, Oh Yeah, Oh No, Oh Yeah..." as it fades out.

6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
They say that this one's based off of the phenomena of bored New York kids being left at home and turning to glue-sniffing in order to "have somethin' to do". As for the song itself, I like the instrumental mid-section a lot. This one ends abruptly rather than fading out...

7. I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement
This one has a cool riff. It's about a guy not wanting to go down to the basement because "there's something down there". What the hell could it be?? Nice bass.

8. Loudmouth
Hah! "You're a loudmouth, baby. You'd better shut it up. I'm gonna beat you up." That's pretty much the whole song. A compelling argument for shutting up any loudmouth.

9. Havana Affair
My favorite song on the album. Supposedly it's based on the Bay of Pigs Invasion that took place in the 1960s. But the song is pretty catchy, with the chorus line "baby baby made me loco... baby baby made me mambo..."

10. Listen to My Heart
Good use of hand-claps. Seems to be a more serious-sounding song, and it's a love-song at that. The song's protagonist reminds himself to protect himself from pain and "next time, to listen to his heart".

11. 53rd & 3rd
This one is supposedly about Dee-Dee Ramone (the group's bassist) when he was a male prostitute. Dee Dee actually sings in this one; he sings the lines "Then I took out my razor blade,
then I did what God forbade, now the cops are after me, but I proved that I'm no sissy". This song is a little slow.

12. Let's Dance
This is a cover of a song by Jim Lee written in 1962. It's a pretty fun, up-beat, fast song. I can actually hear an organ in the background in one part, but I'm not sure if it's really there or if I'm just hearing things. Or maybe it's a harmonica. I really don't know.

13. I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You
The song seems to be a sort of song about a man who is being chastised by an admirer that he doesn't love back. There are little subtleties in the bassline here that make this one enjoyable. Even a weird one-note solo! Ends with a powerful group yell.

14. Today Your Love, Tommorrow the World
A satirical Nazi love-song. Ends with the repeated chorus, "Today Your Love, Tommorrow the World!".

Well, there you have it. The one that started it all. Well, not really, to be honest. There were more than a few punk rock bands before this. And I'm not obliged to rate this record 8/8. I give it a 7/8. They weren't the first band ever to do this kind of music. I'm not going to lie. I'd rather listen to '80s to mid '90s post-punk, 80's hardcore, or noise-rock. They musically have more to offer than this. But they would have never existed if not for this. The Ramones made punk rock big. They solidified it as a movement. They were different and proud. They made simple music cool again. Fuck, they were even conservatives! As weird as they were, the Ramones virtually found their way into the hearts of just about everyone who loves rock & roll. And something definitely can be said about a band who manages to set off an entire world of music with thousands of followers with thousands of ideologies bound together by one thing only: rock and roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive