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"Loco Live" is a live album by American punk rock band, Ramones. It was released in 1991 on Chrysalis Records and produced by the band with Adam Yellin. The line-up for the album was Joey Ramone (vocals), Johnny Ramone (guitar), C.J. Ramone (bass) and Marky Ramone (drums).
The album begins with a fade in of the crowd chanting "Hey! Ho! Let's Go!" which is a staple anthem for any Ramones gig, and then the theme to "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly" plays in with feedback of Johnny picking up his guitar and walking onto a dark stage before the lights come up at the brilliant end of the theme.
"Durango 95" is an instrumental which still rocks even if it doesn't have Joey's voice on it and the background to it is very interesting. The album cover for "Too Tough to Die" is a sort of reimagining of the "A Clockwork Orange" film with the four band members in an alleyway dressed in white. In the film, Alex DeLarge and the gang steal a car which happens to be a Durango 95, and that's where it gets its name from.
"Teenage Lobotomy" is yet another storming Ramones song. Two minutes long, three chord guitar and classic drumming - it doesn't get much better than this. It's another follow-up to the mental health themed songs the band had been writing, and was a staple part of the majority of Ramones gigs. This is easily one of the best songs on the album and graces many a punk rock compilation album.
"Psycho Therapy" is without doubt on of the most famous Ramones song and was very popular when played live. It has a meaty riff and stonking bass line that goes along with Dee Dee and Joey's wonderfully crafted lyrics that you can't help but like. It's a song that goes back to the youth of the narrator who's an unruly child and his parents want to take him to a shrink to find out why his behaviour is so bad.
"Blitzkrieg Bop" has the staple Ramones chant, 'Hey! Ho! Let's Go!" in the lyrics. The song is a good introduction to the world of punk rock music, and is about the ferocious speed of which someone would dance to the music the band plays on stage. "Blitzkrieg Bop" was certainly a live favourite which goes down well here and Rolling Stone magazine placed it No.92 in their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
"Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" is a song about how good music once was and how it's all become too diverse, straying from the roots of rock and roll. The Ramones are basically saying it's up to them to change this for the better by referring to artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, T. Rex and Alan Freed. The song is a throwback to that 50s and 60s rock and roll style with an interesting saxophone sound playing over the guitar on the studio version.
"I Believe in Miracles" is a song written by Dee Dee about life in general. What he's saying here is no matter what he's done in life he's had a good time and he just can't believe he's still there to do it all again. That luck would run out on him in 2002 when he died of a heroin overdose. The first thing that's noticeable is that the Ramones are heavier than any previous album. It's still classic Ramones three chord riffs but it has that extra kick to it and Joey's singing is as good as any song on the album.
"Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment" is one of the best Ramones songs, ever. It has some great verses with a catchy chorus and is about a former girlfriend of Joey's who was sectioned in a mental hospital and after so many shock therapy sessions didn't even recognise who he was.
"Rock 'n' Roll High School" is up next and again we get some more pure punk rock, but it's in small doses as the song is what you've come to expect by now with some fun rock and roll guitar licks but nothing out of the ordinary goes on here. It's played well and is generally well received but it's one of those songs that doesn't quite grab me.
"I Wanna be Sedated" is an absolute classic of a song with a an excellent slab of punk rock that deals with the constant pressures of touring the world and how Joey in particular was burning out and needed a break. This is one of the best Ramones songs ever, no doubt about it. The video to the song has the band sat at a table while chaos resumes all around them.
"The KKK Took My Baby Away" is one of the finest punk rock songs ever, but is a song that may not have even come around had certain events not happened. It's really about how Joey's ex-girlfriend, Linda, left him for Johnny. He's not saying Johnny is a KKK member, but he's saying that the two were so far apart politically, that he put them both together to make it sound like he's not being so obvious as to what it's about. I really like the vocal harmony on the chorus of this song, and the guitar sounds great, too.
"I Wanna Live" has the narrator talking about how even with his wealthy and successful life that money can't buy you everything and he's considering ending it all. The lyrics are sombre and the line "As I execute my killer" is a very clever play on words as to what he's thinking about doing. In the same context, he's also saying that he wants to live. It's a different Ramones record in that it has very little guitar, relying instead on faint strumming in the background until the chorus when Johnny lets it fly.
"My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)" is one of the best songs, absolutely no question about it. As the story goes, it's about former US President Ronald Reagan's trip to Bitburg cemetery in Germany which houses the graves of many Nazi war dead, in a move that caused widespread outrage amongst Americans and Jews. Before he left the US for Germany, he infamously said that the soldiers buried there were "victims just as surely the victims in the concentration camps". Joey's singing is really good here on a song that had its name changed with Bongo Goes to Bitburg in brackets at Johnny's request, who was a staunch Reagan supporter.
"Too Tough to Die" is a song about Johnny Ramone's battle to regain fitness after brain surgery from an incident that took place in between the album it came off and "Subterranean Jungle". It's a song that punches through walls in a rocking sort of way with its heaviness and is one of my favourites off the whole album.
"Sheena is a Punk Rocker" is one of the most iconic Ramones songs of all, and one of the best they ever wrote. It's basically a song in the mould of "Judy is a Punk" in a the way that Sheena abandons her friends that are all going to disco, in order to listen to punk rock. This is another Ramones song which is reminiscent of the Beach Boys style of music.
"Rockaway Beach" is a song about a beach in Queens, New York, bear to where all four Ramones members grew up. It was written by Dee Dee about how they would hitchhike to the beach instead of catching the bus, because the bus would play disco music. It's a great song with some neat guitar playing, and if you imagined the Beach Boys playing punk rock, this track would be something like what you would come up with.
"Pet Sematary" was written specifically for the Stephen King film of the same name, which was released a month before this album. It's no secret that King was a huge Ramones fan and it's not the first time he's used a heavy band in his works as he worked with AC/DC on "Maximum Overdrive", too. It's a good song but if I'm to be critical of it, I think it's too commercialised and not heavy enough. It's been overdubbed too much on the chorus and the guitars just aren't loud enough. I do like the lyrics, though, which fit the novel and film quite well. I especially love Joey's intro where he says "Anybody here seen Stephen King's "Pet Sematary"? This is a song entitled... "Pet Sematary""
"Don't Bust My Chops" is an upbeat song that Joey sings so well, and I can almost imagine the three producers sat around the mixing desk on the album version when the vocals are being recorded asking him to do different tones and shapes here and there. The outcome is excellent, and it's a song in that true Ramones style with some good guitar work from Johnny, throwing out a couple of hooks here and there. It's a song that talks of the narrator being in a relationship where nothing he ever does is right. He finally snaps and tells her to get off his back.
"Palisades Park" was originally recorded by Freddy Cannon in 1962 and was written by "The Gong Show" creator, Chuck Barris. It's a tribute to the amusement park in New Jersey and the Ramones' version is obviously much heavier but it's also one of the better songs as far as the punk rock style of the band goes. It's all the fun of the fair and you can hear a guitar riff in there that sounds a little like what you would at an amusement park.
"Mama's Boy" kicks in and you know from the opening bars that the Ramones mean business. Marky's drumming is clear and Johnny's guitar is a bit angrier backed by C.J.'s audible bass, and Joey's vocals sound really good, too. It's an often overlooked song but it still has the capabilities to rock.
"Animal Boy" is a song that defends the true nature of what it's like to be a punk rocker. The press and media were giving punks a bad name around the time of writing this album so Johnny and Dee Dee thought it was best to fight fire with fire and hit back at them. Joey's singing is back to normal here but the down tuned guitar remains in place. It's a fast-paced song and is played even quicker live which I thought was insane, but it works.
"Wart Hog" is one of the best songs the Ramones ever wrote, or Dee Dee in particular. In his autobiography he states that his therapist wanted him to write a love song to find his inner self, and the aggressive "Wart Hog" is what transpired. It's sung by C.J. and is as punk as punk can get. Johnny's crashing guitar riffs are great but it's the manner in which the vocals are applied that makes it the song that it is.
"Surfin' Bird" is an excellent song with a fast tempo. It was originally recorded by Trash Man, but I do prefer the Ramones version more than that, because it stays true to the original, yet it in that classic Ramones way and Joey puts so much effort into singing it. This is definitely a highlight on the album and one of my favourites.
"Cretin Hop" is an anthem amongst Ramones songs, which is a tribute to the band's fans at the time that would pogo up and down at gigs. The cretin element of it wasn't meant to be derisory towards the fans, more like that's what everybody else thinks they were. I like the guitar playing on this song with its classic three chord riff that is so simple yet so effective in the way it's played.
"I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You" is another one of those simplistic Ramones songs. Except for the title line, there is only one more; "So why you wanna walk around with me?" - and that's it. It's so easy, it's so Ramones, and it has a great pop-punk song with a hidden meaning, in that it's about Dee Dee's former girlfriend who wouldn't leave him alone.
We come to one of the best live Ramones songs now, and we're counted in with the legendary "1, 2, 3, 4" intro, which was uttered many times in many Ramones concerts. "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World" has an incredibly catchy chorus and one of the best endings to any song I've ever heard. You can feel the band is tight on this song and the passion they had for playing music is evident.
"Pinhead" is perhaps in the top 10 of most recognisable Ramones songs, and a staple live song throughout the band's career. It's about acceptance in society and how some people look at you as if you've got three eyes or something. The now infamous Ramones chant of "Gabba gabba we accept you we accept you one of us" kicks the song off into pure punk rock bliss.
"Somebody Put Something in My Drink" is song written by Richie about a true story. The drummer was out partying with Joey when his drink was spiked with hallucinogenic drugs when things started to get a little hazy. The sound on the studio version was a little different than normal, though, and I think that's down to the production of Beauvoir. Joey's vocals were harsher, making it sound like he had a cold or something and the guitar was tuned down a notch or two. Other than that, it's a good song and a live favourite, and Joey does sing it in the same style, live.
"Beat on the Brat" is a song written by Joey about all the spoiled kids he saw when he was growing up in Queens. Johnny's three chord riffs are ever present in the track, and Joey's vocal style is a little different to some songs, but he still delivers it well. The band would pass out bats with the words 'use on a brat' on them at early gigs.
Next up is "Judy is a Punk", which is a furious punk record with a rock and roll edge to it. Joey's lyrics aren't to be taken seriously when after the first chorus he sings "Second verse, same as the first" and repeats as said before the next part which goes "Third verse, different from the first". It's a song about two girls and their escapades.
"Chinese Rock" is a song written by Dee Dee with Richard Hell about being addicted to heroin. This is one of my all-time favourite songs - not just the Ramones, but of any band I've ever listened to. The band, at first, refused to play it, but once Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers recorded it for their debut album, "L.A.M.F.", Dee Dee knew it had to go on a Ramones album. It's one of the heaviest songs the band ever did and the chorus is insanely catchy without being too obvious about its subject nature.
"Love Kills" is a song about Sid Vicious, the late Sex Pistols bassist. Dee Dee wrote it as a tribute to his friend and as a warning to fans out there that think drugs are acceptable. The following verse is quite prophetic, too:
"When you're hooked on heroin
Don't you know you'll never win
Drugs don't ever pay
You really did it your way"
It's prophetic because Dee Dee himself died of a heroin overdose in 2002. Dee Dee's replacement in the band after he left, C.J., provides the vocals for this song and his bass sounds really good.
"Ignorance is Bliss" is more rock and roll than it is punk rock but that's nothing new with the Ramones and I especially like the use of Johnny's guitar on this song which has more riffs, hooks and chops than a lot of songs the band has done. It has to be said, however, that Joey's vocals aren't brilliant here, but I suspect this is the way it was supposed to be. It's a song about politicians and how no matter how much we want change and they promise to deliver, they always end up lying to us and turning the other cheek.
In summary, what's not to like about this amazing live album? The Ramones delivered 33 songs in 70 minutes and it's one song after another with barely a pause for breath. One song ends, C.J. brings the band into another with the trademark "1, 2, 3, 4" and off we go again. All your Ramones favourites are here and the crowd sounds insane. This is one of my very favourite live albums and if you took the time to listen to it, it would be one of yours, too.
1. The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
2. Durango 95
3. Teenage Lobotomy
4. Psycho Therapy
5. Blitzkrieg Bop
6. Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?
7. I Believe in Miracles
8. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
9. Rock 'n' Roll High School
10. I Wanna be Sedated
11. The KKK Took My Baby Away
12. I Wanna Live
13. My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)
14. Too Tough to Die
15. Sheena is a Punk Rocker
16. Rockaway Beach
17. Pet Sematary
18. Don't Bust My Chops
19. Palisades Park
20. Mama's Boy
21. Animal Boy
22. Wart Hog
23. Surfin' Bird
24. Cretin Hop
25. I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You
26. Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World
28. Somebody Put Something in My Drink
29. Beat on the Brat
30. Judy is a Punk
31. Chinese Rock
32. Love Kills
33. Ignorance is Bliss
My rating: 10/10