Tuesday, March 16, 2010

#29 About time for some Ramones

The Ramones are easily one of the most addictive and enjoyable bands I have ever heard and in my opinion the greatest punk band ever to form on the North American continent. Formed in 1976, The Ramones are also often hailed as the first true punk rock band. The boys all attended Forest Hills high school in Queens, NY in the late sixties. In early 1974, the band began to take shape as John Cummings and Douglas Colvin asked Jeffery Hyman to join their band that was being managed by another friend of theirs, Thomas Erdelyi.

Shortly after starting to jam, Colvin remarked to the others that he loved the idea of pseudonyms, particularly Paul McCartney's from the Silver Beatle days (Paul Ramone). He had just switched from playing rhythm guitar to bass and decided to take on the stage name 'Dee Dee Ramone'. He soon convinced the rest of the group to adopt the 'Ramone' name as a tip of the hat to Paul and the others agreed. Cummings stuck with lead guitar and became Johnny Ramone, and Hyman, who was originally on drums,became Joey Ramone. Soon after their first recording sessions had begun, Dee Dee realized he was destroying his vocal chords and could not continue as the band's lead singer. The group decided that Joey would take over lead vocals and that the band's manager Thomas Erdelyi would become their drummer, taking on the moniker 'Tommy Ramone'.

The Ramones always struggled at reaching commercial success which they never really did attain while they were a band. Their only album to go gold was a post break up compilation album called Ramones Mania. The members were also notorious for their infighting between members. This was partly due to each of their personal battles that they were going through at the time. Joey had always fought to control his obsessive compulsive disorder, while Dee Dee had pretty extreme bipolar disorder and Johnny gradually became more and more of a disciplinarian. These issues were further aggravated when Joey and Johnny would often clash due to their political views being on opposite ends of the spectrum.

None of the Ramones were fans of the majority of music that was being made in the 70's and their unique sound was partially a reaction to what the mainstream artists were churning out. Being huge fans of groups like The Kinks, The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones, the band felt that music of the 70's was lacking that energy and quick pace, favoring instead the long solos and slow jams. The Ramones set out on a mission to create music that was fast and fun like they remembered it being. With their famous four chords and manic tempo, they blasted onto the music scene at break neck speeds. Their music is packed with trash culture humour and that minimal rock sound that hearkens you back to the earliest days of rock except for the screaming lyrics and jacked up pace. Their first four albums are absolute dynamite! I love them enough to almost proclaim them my fave punk band but for me The Clash always come first. One thing I love about the Ramones is that you know it is one of their songs even before the music starts. You just have to hear Joey yelling out the count before the song and you know you are about to be assaulted by awesome punk rock.

The Facts:
-14 albums between 1974 and 1995 Only 8 with the original lineup.
-They were inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 2002.
-Sadly, within 8 years of the band disbanding, all the original members had died.
-The second time the Ramones ever played in the UK, the Clash and the Sex Pistols were in the audience and both bands were blown away at the performance of the Ramones.
-Best Simpsons cameo ever! 'Smithers have the Rolling Stones killed...", "but sir! those were the R..", "Do as I Say!"

My Fave Album:
-There are so many good ones, but I think mine is 1977's Rocket To Russia. I think it is my fave because I can remember my dad playing it for me as a little kid. I remember loving the fast pace and thunderous beat of the music. It is a total surfer punk record. Songs like 'Rockaway Beach' and 'Surfin Bird' totally give you the impression this is what the beach boys would have sounded like if they had started wearing leather, breaking their surfboards on stage and taking a whole lot of speed. 'Sheena is a punk rocker' is another fantastic track and one of the highlights of the album for me. For me, this album represents the best that North American punk was in the 70's. It is so full of rebellious energy and pure music with 100% of the BS removed. Even the front cover of the album, with the four members leaning against a brick wall looking pissed off is historic. Every part of this album screams punk with such intensity that it would burst your eardrums if you gave it half a chance.

Let's start things out here with one of my fave punk songs ever 'The Blitzkrieg Bop'

Oh and also dig 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

there is no other band quite like the Ramones...they are great! thankx for the reminder!