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"Ramones" is the self-titled debut album by New York City's infamous punk rock band of the same name. It was released in 1976 on Sire Records and produced by Craig Leon. The line-up for the album was Joey Ramone (vocals), Johnny Ramone (guitar), Dee Dee Ramone (bass) and Tommy Ramone (drums).
Take Jeffry Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi, then throw them on stage to make some noise and out comes Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy; the Ramones. The band formed in 1974 in Queens, New York, and two years later, this album was unleashed. Little did they know how iconic it would eventually become, and how the Ramones would define a music genre.
The album kicks off with "Blitzkrieg Bop", which 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 and Rolling Stone magazine placed it No.92 in their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
"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.
"I Wanna be Your Boyfriend" is the album's first venture into a slower, almost ballad-sounding song. It's a song about falling for a girl and wanting to be with her, and the harmony from the backing vocals makes it sound better than it is. It's not one of my personal favourites because it's too 'soppy' but it works for some.
"Chain Saw" is one of the better up-beat songs on the album with some great vocals and even better lyrics. It's a song about Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic horror film, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and how Joey's infatuation with one of the female stars led to a horror in itself as she was killed off in one scene.
For those that know the Ramones, "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" could only have been written by one person; Dee Dee. It goes back to his childhood and his early days of drugs with glue sniffing. In a book he once said "When we wrote that song, it was like an obvious joke because nobody we know sniffs glue, 'cause that is the most uncool thing you could possibly do." It's a continuation of heavy punk with a great bass line.
"I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement" is a song about how a love of horror films at an early age instilled a fear of the basement, and even when it was written they still probably had a little bit of apprehension of a particular basement from their childhood. It's another staple Ramones song with some great playing. Dee Dee's bass is equal to Johnny's guitar in every respect, and the lyrics are so simple.
"Loudmouth" is a song predictably written principally by Johnny, about a woman who couldn't keep quiet. Johnny was the one member of the band you could guarantee that would get into fights, and started a lot of them himself. Musically, it's as you were for punk rock and I love the way Johnny experiments with the guitar riffs on this song, more than most tracks he recorded for the Ramones.
"Havana Affair" is one of my favourite Ramones tracks of all time. It's a song about the CIA spying on communist Cuba in and around the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The lyrics are pretty much a tongue-in-cheek laugh at the expense of the American government's radical proposals for Cuba, and the time changes in the song are ground-breaking for the time.
"Listen to My Heart" is a song by Dee Dee about breaking up with a girl with simple lyrics. Not to say they're stupid lyrics, but it's a true representation of how easy the bassist wrote things. It's another of those classic three chord wonders with an almost slow tempo, but it has its punchy moments, too. It's sung in that style only Joey Ramone could and is one of the highlights on the album.
"53rd and 3rd" is a street corner in New York City where male prostitutes attempt to make money. Some have said it's directly related to Dee Dee but I'm pretty sure it isn't, and is just about someone he met attempting to buy drugs. It's another Ramones classic which was covered by Metallica, although it sounds nowhere near as good as the original. It's the first song on which Dee Dee sings on, although it is the last verse only.
"Let's Dance" is a cover song, first recorded by Chris Montez in 1962. The Ramones do a credible job of re-imagining it, giving it that punk rock factor, although they keep in the synthesizer sound on it. It's a song about the various dance crazes that happened in the 1960s.
"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. So easy, so Ramones. 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 the last song off the album now, and Tommy counts us in with the now legendary "1, 2, 3, 4" intro, which was uttered many times in many Ramones concerts. "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World" leaves it late, but is my favourite song off the whole album. It's got an incredibly catchy chorus and one of the best endings to any song, and indeed, album.
In summary, this album is a must buy if you're a punk fan or you're a fan of punk history, because this is the album that started it all by the band that started it all. Dee Dee Ramone provides most of the lyrical content, and it's clear to note that he was troubled by his demons even then, but having said that, we have the legacy of the Ramones because of it.
1. Blitzkrieg 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
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
My rating: 9/10
Track Listings 1. Blitzkrieg 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 15. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (Demo) 16. Judy Is A Punk (Demo) 17. I Don't Care (Demo) 18. I Can't Be (Demo) 19. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue (Demo) 20. I Don't Wanna Be Learned/I Don't Wanna Be Tamed (Demo) 21. You Should Never Have Opened That Door (Demo) 22. Blitzkrieg Bop (Single Version)