This is a fantastic album. I’m happy because it gave me affirmation. I love punk but ‘Ramones’ made me realise why and thus is as valuable as any album can be.
I ***ing hate it when people say ‘studying something ruins it’ but maybe they’ve careered into something interesting by chance. I like thinking about an album – why shouldn’t I – but wham! This one is so in your face, has such rough, thrashing guitars that the great stuff is unmissable. The Ramones grew up on The Stooges, The New York Dolls, and in 1974 the ‘Ramone’ moniker consumed them. This record hammers you into submission with three chords – isn’t that minimal! But its parts are maximal. Every song is a hurry: ‘Judy is a Punk’ is an exhilarating song, they yell ‘Second verse, Same as the first!’ and it’s gone in 1:30. There’s no time for deliberation – before you know it you’ve a lighter in one hand and some chlorine trifluoride in the other, caught up in the frantic, angry and fearful world that the group are consumed by. The critical authoritarians might want self-important ditties but where is the thrill in that?
‘Ramones’ is punk at its best; brave but tantrum-like and inconsistent, these are things that scar the distressing road to the grand denouement this ambitious and intelligent group run for. This album is hopeless and directionless. Wow! I didn’t get punk before I heard it and then it was obvious, what is a good listen if not that? Wow! ‘Beat on the Brat’ says smacking kids is alright and has freaky and thrashy chords to prove it, but the ‘Now I Wanna/I Don’t Wanna’ song-title thing is as brattish as anything. That’s expert inconsistency. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’ is lawless, it will split your skull and pump in petrol. ‘Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement’ is a jumpy 2:35er with guitars that will kill you and eat you. All this, and then DeeDee’s Nazi thing. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ was once called, can you believe it, ‘Animal Hop’. Full blown Nazism is what it is – ‘Shoot ‘em in the back now’, they sing. That’s ***ed up no matter what. A young DeeDee went to Germany and got picked on, I’m not sure how he dealt with it – maybe he shrugged, mumbled ‘What can you do?’ and beat them to death with a baseball bat. Whatever, weird Nazi feelings creep in and out of an album that is amoral, directionless, and delightfully punk.
Except ‘Let’s Dance’. They ought to apologise to the 1:51 chunk of PVC for using it so carelessly. Oh well. ‘Leave Home’ and Rocket to Russia’ were good but I don’t feel they match this. The Ramones blew up a crazy, Nazified bomb. It’s so babyish in places that it’s laughable, so why aren’t I laughing? No matter the power chords or cracked-out chants of ‘Hey! Ho! Let’s go!’ Joey is always wounded, panicky because he’s really got something to panic about. He’s not part of some mighty counter-cultural crusade. Every time he yelps I’m hit with the horrible senselessness of brilliant punk. Something it did best in 1976.