It's a rather cold night on the Lower Bowery. There's nothing to do in Queens, he thinks as he passes by the same prostitutes that are on the same corner every day. Eventually, he stumbles to a seedy bar occupied by God-knows-what or better yet, God-knows-who. All of the urban hipsters, the Warhol crowd, the strippers, junkies. Everyone is gathered outside, smoking and talking. Suddenly, there is a huge roar from the inside that startles him, and he thinks.. "well..it sure beats these freaks". A lanky, long hair man in a leather jacket, and possibly the greatest sunglasses you have ever seen stands wrapped around the microphone, blurting out his own odd poetry in a faux British accent. The two guitar players, legs apart, creating the tsunami of sound that once startled you, and the barely noticable drummer, pounding away on his small Ludwig drum set. The man suddenly realises.. that this could be big. Not just big... revolutionary.
Joey Ramone : Vocals
Johnny Ramone : Guitar
Dee Dee Ramone : Bass, vocals
Tommy Ramone : Drums
Ramones is quite possibly the most revolutionary and important album in the last 30 years. Released in 1976, it was made on a budget of $6,000.
Every song possesses the signature sound associated with the Ramones. The guitars roar with overbearing power, yet at the same time crafting catchy, easily played chord progression that any novice could play. The drums fiercely try and keep up with the beat, pitter-pattering and creating swirling sounds with the cymbals. Over all of it, Joey croons and shouts the extremely catchy and dumb lyrics in an almost British accent. These are the sounds of a band in its infancy, and are some of the most recognizable sounds in punk music. In time, though, the Ramones would stray away from their simple, yet genius pattern, and would eventually fade away.
The songs, as stated before, are all hard-driving and catchy, with dumb lyrics over top. "Blitzkrieg Bop" is the
first real punk sound ever recorded. It begins with a simple and fast I-IV-V chord progression, with the whole band roaring. Suddenly, everything drops out but the drums, and Joey soon sets in rock what punk music will be with only four words "Hey, ho! Lets go!" repeated, over and over. The song is one of the most recognizable of all time, and has been used in many commercials over the years, and even at sporting events as a rallying call, which it was written for. "Beat on the Brat" is obviously about teenage violence, and is one of the most stupid sounding songs on here, and has one of the best lines on the album in "Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat". I laugh every time I hear this song, just because of its blunt humour. "Judy is a Punk" also follows in the same fashion, and even includes some backround "ooooohs," definately a representation of their roots in bands like the Beach Boys and the Beatles.
Despite there being a large portion of blunt, stupid songs, there are also some love songs that add a nice amount of variety to the album. "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" is an absolutely gorgeous love song, with tambourine and arpeggiated (!!) chords, and also contains some sweet "oooohs". "Listen to My Heart" is similar, but isn't really a standout, except for the great bridge lyrics/chord progression. "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You" is the anti love song, with rejecting lyrics that sound very "Ewww you have cooties!," but that may just be me.
The other songs are all genius, simple songs. "Chain Saw" is an obvious tribute to one of the band's favorite movies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
, which reveals a lot about their sense of humour and overall personalities. "Now I Wanna Smiff Some Glue" is the glue sniffer's tour de force. Glue was a fairly cheap drug, as it was a household item, and used to be used by some of the members when they were younger, so the song is basically a delinquent tribute to delinquent days. "53rd & 3rd" is probably the most vicious song here, written by Dee Dee. The song depicts being a prostitute on the near-famous corner, as it was where Dee Dee was apparently a male prostitute. Dee Dee comes in to sing on the bridge, and very convincingly sings :
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
"Today Your Love, Tommorow the World" is an extremely ironic song. Written by Dee Dee, who, growing up in Germany and the song of a military man, was familiar with Nazi imagery, and had gone through trash bins to find discarded morphine and other things, and eventually had become a drug addict by the age of 14. Joey sings, which provides the irony, as he is Jewish and sings lines like :
I'm a shock trooper in a stupor
Yes I am.
I'm a Nazi schatze
Y'know I fight for fatherland
Little German boy
Being pushed around
Little German boy
In a German town
Today your love, tomorrow the world
The song is a perfect example as of why the Ramones never really got any radio attention. They were far too liberal in their ideas, and were ahead of their time. The music was too different for radio, and is still ignored by radio stations. If some of the songs had different content, they would have had hits constantly. The Ramones are one of the most perfect pop bands of all tine. They were the Beach Boys meets the MC5, melodic but extremely tough, and they had one of the most perfect and recognizeable images in music history.
This is the beggining of everything that "punk" truly was. Sure, there were "punk" bands before the Ramones, but they themselves made it what it is truly thought of. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest and most influental albums of all time, and no other "punk" band will come close.