The Ramones Myth was steadily falling apart every year. In the beggining, it was all fine and dandy, but by the time End of the Century
was recorded, the cracks in the band started to appear. After commercial failure for over 4 years, the band became unhappy with their positions in the music community. It just so happens that Phil Spector was interested in the group; their bubblgum/pop aesthetics. Joey even sounds like Ronnie Spector a tad, if you really take the time to listen to the quirks in his voice. The production of the album was tedious and grueling. Phil Spector was known to have "unusual" methods of recording his famous Wall of Sound, and he didn't lay off any during the recording of End of the Century
. Phil was said to have made Johnny play the opening chord to "Rock 'N' Roll High School" over and over, until he eventually walked out. Phil was also said to have pulled a gun on the band, forcing them to stay inside of his home or he would shoot them. When you think about it, the Ramones and Phil Spector were a perfect combination, despite the uninvolvement from Johnny, upset about the album in general. On most tracks, people question as to whether he even played on them. End of the Century
is shrouded in mystery, as to who played what, who was even there
, and so on and so forth.
There's no doubt that the Ramones' sound was huge, almost from the humble beggining. Add another layer of the infamous Wall of Sound, and you have one extraordinary pop album. Here, for the first time, there are strings in a Ramones song, which is basically punk-rock heresy, and even horns, adding even more punch to the songs. Joey's voice is at it's peak here, and the production lets you hear little things you would have never heard in his voice, or in the instruments, before. The songwriting, too, is in perfect pop form, with huge doses of melody and complimentary arrangements. I guess you could say that this was a Joey Ramone solo album.
Quite a few of the songs here are nostalgic, where the Ramones influences really come to shine. The horns-a-plenty "Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?" and surf-rock, "screw you!" "Rock & Roll High School" are fine examples of their influences, along with the cover of "Baby, I Love You". Now here is where controversy sets in, adding to the drama that surrounded a portion of the recording of the album. "Baby I Love You" features none of the Ramones, besides Joey. Apparently, they recorded the song while the rest of the band is away, with an orchestra, and studio musicians filling in also. The song is the
best song here, and was a moderate success in Europe, the only time the Ramones would experience very much of it. "Danny Says" also offers a fine slab of classic-Ramones lyrical stylings, with more gorgeous melodies. There is also "Chinese Rock," a song originally recorded by the Heartbreakers, and is also a rather controversial moment. Dee Dee claims that he helped right the song, and that Johnny Thunders stole it from him and gave him no credit. Though the song rocks, it is nowhere near as good as the "original" version. The rest of the songs, though not pearticularly standouts, are solid, enjoyable songs with plenty to offer, but don't live up to the examples that the other songs set for the album. End of the Century
is an essential album, though not always recognized as so. This isn't the same old Ramones anymore, this is the Ramones growing up, and it's a good album to point out ot anyone that believe that pop music is manufactured by record companies. For shame!
If You're Feeling Sinister:
"Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?"
"Baby I Love You"
"Rock & Roll High School"