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The Ramones

  • The Ramones,
  • Leave Home,
  • Rocket To Russia,
  • Road To Ruin,
  • End Of The Century,
  • Pleasant Dreams,
  • Subterranean Jungle,
  • Too Tough To Die,
  • Animal Boy,
  • Halfway To Sanity,
  • Brain Drain,
  • Mondo Bizzaro,
  • Acid Eaters,
  • Adios Amigos,

  • Album Reviews |

    The Ramones

    The Ramones 8 ( 1976 )
    Blitzkrieg Bop / Beat On The Brat / Judy Is A Punk / I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend / Chain Saw / Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue / I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement / Loudmouth / Havana Affair / Listen To My Heart / 53rd And 3rd / Let's Dance / I Don't Wanna Walk Around With / Today Your Love Tomorrow

    MC5. Iggy Pop. 'Punk' wasn't strictly invented by The Ramones, but they did the two minute blast thing, the simplicity and no jamming thing. They did the we can't play thing, before anybody else. Punk evolved, thanks to The Ramones. The word 'punk' had been around for years and years of course - but The Ramones were the arguably the first American punk band in the modern, musical sense of the word. In the UK, choose either The Damned or The Sex Pistols, whatever you prefer. It was different in the US, needless to say, although The Ramones also made waves across 'the pond' and thrilled a good few UK listeners. They looked funny! The songs were right, dumb and incredibly simplistic - but catchy with it. One thing The Ramones did do was bring a love of Sixties pop into the equation. I can't think of too many other punk groups with a similar, shared loved of Brill Building era Sixties pop. Or The Beach Boys, either, for that matter. Punk+Beach Boys=? Well, it doesn't quite equal The Ramones, but there is something around later albums to more forcefully indicate such an equation. All this talk of Punk, who was first... personally, I don't care. 'Louie Louie' was first! Everything goes back to the dumbness of 'Louie Louie', that garage band classic through the ages. We can ARGUE about this all day... ultimately, it doesn't matter when considering the actual musical and 'fun' merits of this debut Ramones set.

    Fourteen songs, just over twenty nine minutes of music. It actually sounds longer than that to me. Occasionally, the relentless assault of two minute catchy guitar riff things can become grating if the entire fourteen songs each employs the same vocal tone, same guitar tone, etc, etc. But of course, there are variations. It's these variations that we seek out - The Ramones weren't about doing anything other than write catchy songs. Any importance attached to their name was hardly 'their fault'. Or, their intention. I mean, you don't go out of the house one morning and proclaim, "I'm going to invent punk!" now, do you? No. So, what's my favourite song here? Well, it's 'Beat On The Brat' - I adore the way the vocal is sung and the entire intended idiocy of the whole enterprise. The vocal becomes distinctive, stuttering and jumpy and mumbled and drawled - the guitars and riffs are there. They are there in every song, varying themselves in subtle ways. Another winner is undoubtedly 'Judy Is A Punk' - another charming vocal performance amid 92 seconds of catchy pop/punk guitar riffs. For the UK brigade, any mention of 'pop' was a no-go, an utter forbidden. The Ramones embraced pop music, pop music of The Sixties, but pop music all the same.

    'I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend' ( slower riffs ), 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue' ( yobbish riffs ), etc, etc. The one-two-three nature of the record is quite clear, there's a sense of wondering whether they should perhaps consider doing something to vary things dramatically - but the guitars see that every song rushes through its allocated two minutes or so on a wave of energy. The Ramones are raw here, the guitar sound is raw, so are the vocals. The vocals are striking, distinctive - everything swims together, but wind back to the likes of 'Judy Is A Punk' or 'Beat On The Brat' and you'll realise, perhaps, that not all the songs here are all the same, after all. Some are better than others. Ah, let's mention 'Let's Dance' before I go. A clear sign, The Ramones were not your normal punk band. This is deliriously silly and happy stuff - a cover of an old Rock and Roll tune. Because they could, and they did.

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    Readers Comments

    Jude Bolton Bolton_154@hotmail.com
    The Ramones were a hard band to get into, and now that I'm eventually 'into' them... I still don't like them that much! What I mean is that I'd rather listen to The Clash, The Buzzcocks, or... even Jet, than the Ramones. My problems with the Ramones are probably the same as everyone else's who hates them: their songs all sound the same, the songs (esp the choruses) are too repetitive, the songs are too underproduced, and the singer's voice..... actually that's the least of my worries. I give the debut an 8 though: the first side is probably as flawless as the Ramones will get for me, and I love Havanna Affair just because of the 'click' sound. Hey, anything to break up the chainsaw buzz...

    K Chapman doom98cheats@hotmail.com
    I thought the Ramones Were great and I know people will argue with me but they have the right to. But I have to say, the Ramones are really the only band that had a song for everyone. They reached out to the the outsiders, the underdogs, and the ones who all they wanted to do was have a good time.

    Matt matty551@hotmail.com
    Well seriously I remember listining to this as a six year old when my parents first played it, it's still as fun as ever. Who cares if they're repetitive and underproduced, they are still better than a wanker band with the best producer in the world. You were garunteed seedy fun with the Ramones and I love that.

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    Leave Home( 1977 )
    Glad to See You Go / Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment / I Remember You / Oh Oh I Love Her So / Carbona Not Glue / Suzy Is a Headbanger / Pinhead / Now I Wanna Be a Good Boy / Swallow My Pride / What's Your Game / California Sun / Commando / You're Gonna Kill That Girl / You Should Never Have Opened That Door / Babysitter

    More of the same from The Ramones second time out, or is it?? On the face of it, this collection of fifteen brief songs repeat the simplicity and one two three nature of the first record, although dig deeper and you'll discover a few things going on that weren't on the debut record. The songs seem... more polished. Only slightly, mind you. Perhaps polished isn't even the correct word to use, perhaps it's just a case that The Ramones wrote a better batch of songs second time out?? It's true the debut is slightly rawer and, of course, it's true the debut came first! But which of these albums came first means little to me as I sit down and listen to 'Leave Home' in 2003 and nor should it matter! Acknowledging the importance of something is one thing, liking a record better for actual reasons quite another! Anyway, 'Glad To See You Go' starts things off much where the debut left off, buzzing guitars, etc, etc. 'Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment' is a punk/ramones classic from beginning to end. To my ears at least, it sounds more assured that the raw energy of the debut record whilst still retaining plenty of energy. It doesn't really lose a damn thing! 'I Remember You' is gorgeous, a slower song, good gosh!! The lyrics are very evocative and very early to mid-sixties teenage romance, actually. An ideal, a dream, a painting of a scene in a teen flick. The lyrics in 'Oh Oh I Love Her So' manage to be even more evocative - and The Ramones plugging into the sixities spector and brill building pop is in evidence, even though they are basically playing punk. This is what set The Ramones apart. The UK punk scene was all.... anger. The Ramones had the energy, but there wasn't the same sense of snarling anger. Instead we get little stories as delightful as the delightfully charming 'Oh Oh I Love Her So'.

    A certified Ramones classic akin to 'Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment' arrives with 'Suzy Is A Headbanger', 'Pinhead' isn't far behind and snarls a little more than other songs here - an album with variety? Yeah, kinda. More so than the debut to my set of ears anyway - and I don't have nobody elses ears. That would look kind of silly anyway, wouldn't it?? Ah, you know what I mean! Anyway, songs pass by, none bad, but some better than others. 'What's Your Game' and 'California Sun' are sweet songs!! I can imagine The Ronettes singing 'What's Your Game', I can imagine 'California Sun' just as, well, energy, punk - and sunshine. Sunshine isn't normally associated with punk, is it? Anyway, this album is good! Buy it for your kids for their education in life.

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    Readers Comments

    Guy Peters guy@guypetersreviews.com
    I don't understand why so many people praise the debut and Rocket to Russia while ignoring this one. I must admit i'm biased to the GREAT sounding debut, but the songs on this album are at least as good. maybe they refer even more to 50s & 60s bublegum pop - and successfully - but the album contains a handful of truly essential Ramones/punk songs. "Gimmie Gimmie Shock Treatmen', 'Carbona', 'Commando', 'Pinhead', 'now i wanna be a good boy',..., what a first-class bunch of songs that is. This album combines the rawness of the debut and the slickness of Rocket to Russia in a better way than any other of their albums (imo).

    Jude Bolton Bolton_154@hotmail.com
    I absolutely loathe the chorus to Glad To See You Go, and the Ramones have the nerve to repeat it for the last 45 seconds of the song. 45 seconds is a long time in a Ramones song, remember? To me, Leave Home doesn't do anything that the debut didn't do, but then I wasn't expecting it to. And there are certain moments that I dig, especially I Remember You, Swallow My Pride and You're Gonna Kill That Girl. 7 outta 10.

    Matthew matty551@hotmail.com
    This is an interesting album in that it builds on the rawness of the first album and it sets the scene for the rest of the bands career. This is not gonna go down as a classic Ramone album due to the fact that the bands two most popular albums are either side in catalogue. I don't rate it highly and would only give it a seven (with a possible half because of it's importance).

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    Rocket To Russia( 1977 )
    Cretin Hop / Rockaway Beach / Here Today, Gone Tomorrow / Locket Love / I Don't Care / Sheena Is a Punk Rocker / We're a Happy Family / Teenage Lobotomy / Do You Wanna Dance / I Wanna Be Well / I Can't Give You Anything / Ramona / Surfin' Bird / Why Is It Always This Way?

    Of the famous first four Ramones albums, which had the better songs? The debut was the raw power and startling ARRIVAL of The Ramones, but these guys got better at writing actual songs. The evidence is there in the grooves. 'Cretin Hop' says it all, 'Rockaway Beach' plugs into punk surf mode, The Ramones do that kind of stuff so well. It's a great song, The Ronettes or The Beach Boys or Jan and Dean could have done this song, you know? The Ramones could write songs, they'd got better at it. You know, songs people would want to do cover versions of, classic songs. 'Here Today, Gone Tomorrow' opens all "I love you" and shows the romantic side of vocalist Joey Ramone - it was always there. It's a gorgeous song. "Lovely, lovely locket love" opens the song 'Locket Love' - and so it continues. A dirtier sound for 'I Don't Care' which reverts more to a purer punk sound and then? Then? Well, 'Sheena Is A Punk Rocker', The Ramones most famous song in the UK, a hit! "They're ready to go now!", oh boy, yeah! The punk and the romance and the sixities pop thing, all combined in the one song, a song lasting 169 seconds. 169 seconds of pure Ramones perfection, great riff, great vocals. Real shiver up the spine stuff. I can only think of, maybe, around three songs from the debut Ramones album that could even LIVE with this, as far as writing catchy tunes is concerned. Besides, if you wanted punk anger or power, why are/were you looking to The Ramones anyway? Plenty more punk bands did that better than The Ramones did. 'Teenage Lobotomy' reminds us of the debut Ramones set, but 'Rocket To Russia' is generally slightly mellower than that - comes across as a natural evolution from 'Leave Home'.

    Ah, AH! 'Do You Wanna Dance?' These guys had great taste in Rock N Roll songs. Personally, I know this song from the original version and from the Dennis Wilson sung Beach Boys version. Don't make me choose the best version, I can't decide. Oh, okay, it's still The Beach Boys version, but then, i'm biased. The Ramones give them a run for their money tho! After which, 'Rocket To Russia' falls away for its closing sequence of songs, more of the same, less great songs. 'Surfin Bird' is ridiculous and silly enough to be hugely entertaining however and overall, yeah. Great album.

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    Tyler Bailey skywilde@hotmail.com
    Amen! Such a gorgeous song. It's impossible for me to choose the better of the two versions (Beach Boys or Ramones). How about T. Rex? Their's wasn't half-bad! I have to give Rocket to Russia a 9, mostly due to the bubblegum brilliance of Rockaway Beach, and the gruff romanticism of Sheena and Do You Wanna Dance.

    Scott scott_brown88@hotmail.com
    This is by far the best Ramones album, well not by far because the 1st 5 albums are great, but with songs as good as 'Rockaway Beach' and 'Surfin Bird' i'd give it an overall 10 rating, up there with 'Doolittle' and 'The Queen Is Dead' as the greatest albums ever

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    Road To Ruin( 1978 )
    I Just Want To Have Something To Do / I Wanted Everything / Don't Come Close / I Don't Want You / Needles And Pins / I'm Against It / I Wanna Be Sedated / Go Mental / Questioningly / She's The One / Bad Brain / It's A Long Way Back

    A confusing album this that shows The Ramones admirably trying a few different things, but they keep pulling back. A song such as the mid-tempo, mixing in acoustic and other such EXOTIC instruments as 'Questioningly' sounds little like The Ramones of the past, apart from the vocals. I love singers with distinctive voices and anything this guy sang on ended up reminding you of The Ramones, whatever the music was like. Great vocalist, really good. A voice with an emotional quiver, a voice that sounds like it's about to fall apart and declare undying love to you, or maybe that's just me? With the faster songs - and we have some here, his voice sounds suitably moronic enough to appeal to the kinds of people that just want to thrash their heads around without thinking, have a great time. A voice.... 'Road To Ruin' generally follows up songs like 'Questioningly' and the 'Needles And Pins' classic pop cover version with more usual Ramones styled songs - pulling back, as I said. The trashing punk riffs of 'I'm Against It' follows 'Needles And Pins' and anyway, 'Needles And Pins'? Great sixties pop song, no question. The Ramones continue to demonstrate impeccable taste, above all else. Still, despite all the very admirable qualities this 'Road To Ruin' album shows off, it does fall short of the previous three in the number of good songs it contains. The one undisputed Ramones classic here is the sheer glory and splendour of 'I Wanna Be Sedated', a song to bring the house down whatever house or place it is, whatever the company. I refuse to believe anybody could dislike the song, it's just, AH! What a great song! Do The Ramones resist serious contemplation and intepretation? Could you write a thesis on The Ramones? Well, maybe you could, but I don't want to. The best Ramones songs shoot straight to your head, heart and groin. That's the way. It's a feeling.

    A couple of good songs open this album, 'I Just Want To Have Something' sounds classic, a great song construction. 'I Wanted Everything' opens in a typical Ramones flurry of guitars, mentions an Xmas tree in the lyric and you wouldn't catch The Clash or The Sex Pistols or The Dead Kennedy's or whomever else in punk, DOING THAT! Oh, what's the best song here? For me, it's the utterly perfect 'Don't Come Close' which just shows how damn good The Ramones could be sometimes. Beautiful melodies, great vocal, good lyrics. Shiver up the spine stuff again yet this is a mellow Ramones song. I suspect I view The Ramones differently than a good portion of their fanbase, but then, I never grew up listening to them. I'm english. That's my excuse, never bloody heard any of their songs until around ten years ago and i'm twenty nine years old. They play no part in the fabric of the UK music scene apart from a lingering influence over a bunch of punk bands, now mostly forgotten. The Ramones DO stand the test of time, although 'Road To Ruin' isn't their best work. But, we'll allow them that. For songs such as 'Don't Come Close', we'll allow them anything. <

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    stuart diggle studig@hotmail.com
    Amen! Such a gorgeous song. It's impossible for me to choose the better of the two vunderated i believe. im against it / go mental/ bad brain ...as good as anything they did. ...and yes i did see them live...11 times

    Jude Bolton Australia
    Without question, the most hilarious reader comment on your entire website is by a younger version of myself claiming to prefer listening to Jet than the Ramones! Where is my copy of Get Born when I need it? (Answer: At the used CD shop)

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    End Of The Century 9 ( 1980 )
    Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio? / I'm Affected / Danny Says / Chinese Rock / The Return Of Jackie And Judy / Let's Go / Baby, I Love You / I Can't Make It On Time / This Ain't Havana / Rock N Roll High School / All The Way / High Risk Insurance

    I used to own the un-remastered CD edition, I now own the re-mastered CD edition with bonus tracks. These bonus tracks consist of quickly recorded Ramones demos that promise 'End Of The Century' being a similar record to the first four Ramones albums. Maybe better than 'Road To Ruin', but not quite as good as peak Ramones form. Enter Phil Spector into the equation. Now, you can read the rumours and the controversy concerning all the tension that was present when the less than sane Phil Spector worked with The Ramones, the first actual fully formed, genuine band he ever worked with. You can read that. You can read about Phil Spector pulling a pistol on a member of the group at one point and you can read how The Ramones guitar and bass players were particularly unhappy because they didn't know where the hell their parts on the album were. You could also remember the history of The Ramones influences, their strong tie to Sixties pop. You can bear in mind that every album Phil Spector had ever produced, bar Beatles solo related productions, had seen Spector insist on writing credits. The Ramones got their own writing credits. Phil Spector was somewhat in awe of the group after having them recommended to him and watching them perform live. This is all by the by, historical information only.

    That famous Spector 'Wall Of Sound' had been dormant, more or less, since 1966 or so when 'River Deep Mountain High' failed to chart in the upper reaches of Billboard. Here, it is spectacularly reborn. We also get a few, more or less, normal styled Ramones songs. We get a few different things here, the most varied album The Ramones ever made - but the Spector production lends 'End Of The Century' ( his title ) a cohesion, all the same. Accusations of 'sell out' were cried when 'Baby I Love You' was released - a very un-punk, string drenched Spector cover of a single - but that was The Ramones idea, not Spector's. Well, don't matter whose idea it was. It's quite charming actually, the only such string drenched pop ballad The Ramones ever did in their entire careers, so we can allow them that. It may have been a bad choice of single, albeit a commercial hit - because it alienated a portion of their more harcore punk influenced fanbase. Then again, this was 1980. The Clash, The Sex Pistols (?! ) were moving away from punk. We had Public Image Limited, evolving from The Sex Pistols, Mr Lydon's ( Johnny Rotten's ) new band. Punk was dead, new wave was just around the corner. Not that this was in the minds of The Ramones, just as 'inventing punk' wasn't in their minds circa 1976. But, change was inevitable - or accusations of dinosaur stagnation and disinterest from your fanbase was surely gonna follow.

    So, Joey Ramone enters the vocal booth. There is a mic over his head and a mic some other strange place and he doesn't know what the hell is going on, but reassurances surely followed. His voice has never been better recorded, indeed, Spector wanted to record him solo. The writing process produced a batch of strong Ramones song, earlier songs such as 'Chinese Rock' and 'Rock N Roll High School' were given Ramones ( or new Ramones ) treatments, courtesy of Spector and his room full of additional studio muscians. The echo was placed on the drums and the drummer was happy as all anything - the energy combined with the Spector echo - so it sounds like two drummers, not one - ensured he was pleased as punch. The drums sound fantastic throughout. So follows the perfect cross betweens Ramones and Spector, the opening 'Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio?'. Nostalgic lyrics, mentions of Sixties music TV Shows. Drums, saxophone, swirling organ buried in the mix. The bass is combined with Piano, so you get something that sounds like neither, hence the bass players confusion. The guitars are there, similarly chained to some other instrument(s). Spector stuck mics around the room, he knew what he was doing. The result is easily the most astonishing sonic assault The Ramones ever produced. It pounds, although you can't make out any 'punk-rock' guitars. The drums are wonderful, the beat and rhythm - oh, those pounding drums. Ah, the saxophone! Ah, Joey!! Etc, etc.

    'I'm Affected' features great bass parts, possibly not played by The Ramones bass player, but never mind, it's a fine song. 'Danny Says' places Joey's voice in romantic mode and the guitars sound clear and strong, melodic and pretty and all sorts of detail is here in both the musical arrangement and the lyrical content. 'Chinese Rock' rocks well, 'The Return Of Jackie And Judy' sees Spector and The Ramones meet head on, for a follow-up of sorts to 'Judy Is A Punk'. 'Let's Go', 'High Risk Insurance', 'All The Way' and the storming 'This Ain't Havana' retain all of The Ramones usual punch - fast, speedy, albeit with echo on the drums and the guitar - but these songs easily manage to retain strong Ramone punk qualites, and be very entertaining. ' I Can't Make It On Time' is perfect, gorgeous - a hugely underrated Ramones masterpiece. Spector does his thing, The Ramones do their thing. Great percussion and additional instrumentation adding a third dimension to The Ramones sound. One of their best ever songs - it strikes a chord. So to speak! 'Rock N Roll High School' sees Spector meet The Ramones meet The Beach Boys, "fun, fun" indeed! An album that sounds stupendous, listened to loud, especially. Not exactly punk anymore - but with 'Rock N Roll High School', 'Chinese Rocks', 'I Can't Make It On Time', 'Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio', 'Danny Says and 'I'm Affected' - an album containing a good bunch of The Ramones best ever songs, writing wise. You dig?

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    stuart diggle studig@hotmail.com
    overated unfortunately 4 me.....this aint havana is my high point

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    if youre heart doesnt burst with happiness on hearing the opening bars of "baby i love you" then you are dead - its official . Joey would have been a great 50s rock crooner in a parallel universe and spector his natural producer . Its kind of like a superior version of lennons rock n roll album . Adrians got this one spot on - get the remastered disc, stick it on a good system and you will hear everything thats missing from todays rock n roll, ambition,joy,soul, stuff designed for the airwaves for eternity .

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    Pleasant Dreams 8 ( 1981 )
    We Want The Airwaves / All's Quiet On The Eastern Front / The Kkk Took My Baby Away / Don't Go / You Sound Like You're Sick / It's Not My Place / She's A Sensation / 7-11 / You Didn't Meant Anything To Me / Come On Now / This Business Is Killing Me / Sitting In My Room

    'Pleasant Dreams' lacks the sheer sonic assault of the previous years, Spector produced masterpiece. Yeah, masterpiece, you heard me right. It's still produced pretty well though, and The Ramones are still writing very good songs. The songs matter, we can all argue about stylistics, timing and influence - all we like. Ultimately, it's the songs that matter. So, 'We Want The Airwaves' subtly moves The Ramones into the nineteen eighties production wise, but only subtly. The spirit is still there, the declaration of intent that they "want the airwaves" is there. Quite frankly, they deserved a lot more airwaves than they were getting. 'End Of The Century' was their biggest selling album, but it still was far from being a best-seller. I just don't know. You get a great group like The Ramones and get dross in the entire top 40 preventing such band from achieving their due rewards, sales wise. It's always been this way, of course. Plenty of other great bands suffered such a fate. The Ramones can take heart that their music has lasted, and continues to mean something to a significant amount of people, whilst certain chart toppers from 1981 can't even be remembered by anybody, these days. Anyway, good songs flow. The second number vaguely recalls the Spector production of the previous album. We've got some echo on the drums and a storming energy that's most enjoyable! 'The KKK Took My Baby Away' is a Ramones song plugging into classic Sixties pop in feel, although not entirely in lyrical feel, the chorus was never gonna make it onto mainstream radio. Actually, i'm feeling quite happy about that right about now....

    I've given this album the same rating as The Ramones legendary debut. There are reasons, which we won't go into now - the debut was timed perfectly, and made its impact, and it doesn't really matter a damn what I say. Who am I, anyway?? All I know is 'Don't Go' is a better song than a good half of the debut Ramones album and better sounding, too. This is all subjective, of course. Hey, I don't want to ARGUE with anybody, but yes. The Ramones had got better at writing songs through the years. As punk faded from the worlds collective conciousness for awhile during the eighties, that's when the rot would set in. For now, The Ramones were doing just fine. Songs start to flow by with energy and speed, a decently enjoyable album. 'Come On Now' is nicely singable and fun, 'This Business Is Killing Me' the first indication of the changes in sound The Ramones would present us with through the decade remembered mostly for inappropriate production. The guitars start all heavy, everything then turns to falsity and plastic - although I hugely enjoy the handclaps. Ah, that's just one song. Maybe there's another song or two right in the middle of this album you'd be generous in calling good, but 'Sitting In My Room' is a nifty punk classic. And it was released in 1981. You can see the problems that were going to face The Ramones, can't you??

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    Subterranean Jungle( 1983 )
    Little Bit O' Soul / I Need Your Love / Outsider / What'd Ya Do? / Highest Trails Above / Somebody Like Me / Psycho Therapy / Time Has Come Today / My-My Kind of Girl / In the Park / Time Bomb / Everytime I Eat Vegetables It Makes Me...

    Eeek, what's happened to the sound of the group?? Where has this thin, weedy 80s production come from?? Well, the 80s I suppose. Anyways, our boys are still writing good songs that make you nod your head agreeably, even though you've heard all of these riffs before. The production, complete with fake handclaps and fake sounding drums, like the sound or not, actually distinguishes this set of recordings from other Ramones albums - nothing else does. Is 'distinguish' the correct word for me to have used? Probably not, but we'll allow it to linger. Ah, the hand-claps, the hand-claps. Is this some kind of pop Ramones album?? The production and sound being watered down and the songs, bar one or two, being kind of friendly? It's almost a cuddly Ramones album. Let's take 'Little Bit O Soul' as an example, because it's a good one. Yeah, the lyrics mention a baseball bat at some point and somebody else grunts, "UH!" at some other point, but any sense of danger or even any sense of alternative has gone completely from Ramones land. This is just a nice tune, very very catchy and silly, ultimately. My favourite song here is 'Outsider', which actually sounds more classic ramones than almost anything else here. Just a simple song, riffing guitars, not many lyrics - the songs title being the key phrase. It works.

    As the album continues, I find myself thinking to myself, yeah, this song is good, this other song is okay. But rarely does this album reach above being 'just good' or 'just ok'. It does reach above a few times and it never actually sinks to any level below 'just ok'. So, overall?? Well, it's a good album. 'Psycho Therapy' joins 'Outsider' in the adrian's favourite songs from the album stakes. Dumb, moronic, stupid. Everything a great Ramones song should be. Ah, I find myself confused. You see, on the one hand The Ramones are leaning back to their early sound, on the otherhand, the likes of 'Little Bit O Soul' or 'Time Has Come Today' or 'I Need Your Love' merely sound like perfectly fun pop songs. 'Everytime I Eat Vegetables' is a good way to close the album then, fun and silly but definitely Ramones, definitely punk-pop. Good stuff on the whole.

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    Too Tough To Die 7 ( 1984 )
    Mama's Boy / I'm Not Afraid of Life / Too Tough to Die / Durango 95 / Wart Hog / Danger Zone / Chasing the Night / Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La) / Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love) / Planet Earth 1988 / Humankind / Endless Vacation / No Go

    A heavier Ramones sound. The drums are heavier, the bass is heavier - the songs seem a little slower and more deliberately pounding. The vocals have changed, a twisted style of singing, a tougher vocal style at the expense of melody. "You're an ugly dawg" - and that's 'Mama's Boy', a song with a toughness that doesn't quite convince. This style of singing continues throughout 'I'm Not Afraid Of Life', the title song speeds things up a little, tempo-wise, without being the thrashing Ramones of old still. 'Durango 95' does that speedy punk Ramones riffing thing, whilst still retaining the heavier rhythm section sound, the drums coming through the sound, especially. By the time of 'Wart Hog', 'Danger Zone' and everything else - I just get a sense of Ramones by numbers, Ramones treading water. The songs here don't send the same thrills through me that previous Ramones do. As a result, I can't really think of much to say about this album. Oh, it's not bad by any means - it's actually pretty consistent, but at what level of writing, at what level of ambition?? Ah, one song I do really like, a song that ditches this heavier ramones sound and goes back to the pop and/or fun melody thing, is the fab if simple, 'Chasing The Night'. Keyboards in the sound, whoa, but it has a charm! The song has a silly charm that the best Ramones songs have. It doesn't take itself too seriously - I don't get the same feeling about the bulk of the album.

    Speaking of keyboards, fun keyboards - they're all over 'Howling At The Moon' and the 'Sha-la-la' chorus keeps things moving and keeps things fun. We switch back to more usual Ramones for 'Daytime Dilemma' and suddenly 'Too Tough To Die' starts to convince. The repetition, the slight variations. Most Ramones albums do this, they eventually convince because the listener ends up getting sucked into their world. I don't care much for 'Planet Earth' ( not the Duran Duran song, might have been better if it had been! ) or for the very strange 'Endless Vacation', but the closing 'No Go' is classic Ramones pop of the best kind and leaves a nice taste in this listeners mouth.

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    stuart diggle studig@hotmail.com
    a return to form after subterranean and pleasant dreams(both low spots 4 me)....too tough to die rekindled my faith in ramones/punk/hardcore

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    Animal Boy( 1986 )
    Somebody Put Something In My Drink / Animal Boy / Love Kills / Apeman Hop / She Belongs To Me / Crummy Stuff / My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down / Mental Hell / Eat That Rat / Freak Of Nature / Hair Of The Dog / Something To Believe In

    The Ramones meet the mid-eighties. The Ramones, thanks to their producer at the time, or whatever - 'enjoy' a guitar sound that sounds like guitars are barely even present on the recording at all. Joey Ramone consistently gives it his all vocally, the opening 'Somebody Put Something In My Drink' is memorable only for his growled performance. The material is a little lacking, the sound of the music is lacking, but yeah, Joey tries pretty hard. The song titles are one of the most enjoyable aspects of this album. When that happens, you know you're in trouble. Well, a couple or three songs here work well. 'My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down' turns The Ramones fully into a pop band. The guitars are barely audible, not really being fashionable things circa 1986 if this record is anything to judge by. Still, yes, 'My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down' is certainly catchy and well constructed, if nothing else. The title track ditches the eighties production for a moment and returns everything to pure punk. Speedy drums, speedy riffs. Almost as if it was 1976 again, almost as if The Ramones were in their prime again. Similiar comments apply to 'Eat That Rat', the sound is more or less there and the vitality is more or less there. What lets down 'Eat That Rat' a little is its overbearingly simple nature. That may strike the reader as an odd thing to say in the middle of a Ramones review, but bear with me. I'm thinking more lyrically than musically, when I refer to it as overly simplistic. Plus, the vocal assault doesn't help take away the impression of The Ramones becoming dumbed down cartoon caricatures of themselves.

    'Hair Of The Dog' we can strike down as a genuinely good song. When the material is a little more inspired, the sound reverts back to more 'classic' Ramones, which I find interesting. Perhaps the synths and pop eighties production elsewhere was simply a case of trying to get something interesting out of the weaker material? Ah, it's all speculation. 'Freak Of Nature' I find enjoyable, semi enjoyable - the lyrical content and overall approach does reek of self parody, though. A strange self parody, a cartoon version of the groups original vision, twisted and tamed by mid-eighties production. The Ramones were in something of a pickle. Feeling that they had to change and couldn't keep producing the same old, same old. What they chose to replace their signature sound with, anonymous eighties pop ( witness closing song 'Something To Believe In' for the best/worst offender ) perhaps wasn't the way to go, however. The best songs here, perversely, are the ones that sound most like The Ramones. Figure that out.

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    Halfway To Sanity 6 ( 1987 )
    I Wanna Live / Bop Til You Drop / Weasel Face / Go Lil Camaro Go / I Know Better Now / Death of Me / I Lost My Mind / A Real Cool Time / I'm Not Jesus / Bye Bye Baby / Worm Man

    What, The Ramones decide to make yet another album? Oh, if i'd have been around at the time, i'm quite positive I wouldn't have been excited at all and would have given up on them long before. Still, this album does contain one genuinely good song, a certified semi wonder buried amid a sea of mediocrity. This semi-wonder is of course the opening song, 'I Wanna Live'. I much prefer this sleek piece of catchy melody and appropriately taken performance over, say, 'Go Lil Camaro Go'. 'Go Lil Camaro Go' actually evens sees fit to include a portion of that old surfer fave, 'Papa Oom Mow Mow'. It was a rubbish song when The Beach Boys played it live, it's still rubbish incorporated into a deeply ordinary Ramones song. Well, what is good? Good?? 'Bop Til You Drop' following on from the marvellous Ramones pop of 'I Wanna Live' raises hopes of a return to form. 'Bop Til You Drop' has a little menace about it, groovy little bass and lead guitar lines, nice drums, the works. A great vocal. Can't ask for more than that. I can ask for a great deal more than 'Garden Of Serentity' and 'Weasel Face', however. Well, the latter song is typically Ramones, a punk assault. Pretty okay, but nothing to make you want to break out of yourself, or even smile too much. The chorus lets the song down, it's fair to say. Oh, of course it was never meant to be serious, but as the song progresses, embarrasment creeps in, not "hey, this is so dumb, this is cool", you know? As for 'Garden Of Serenity', it shares some of the production defects that blighted 'Animal Boy'. An okay song, but it just sounds so damn weak, as if The Ramones have been neutered or something.

    In fact, the only really interesting thing about this album, apart from the fact it starts off pretty well, is the fact that overall, it's actually less embarrasing to listen to than 'Animal Boy' was. It's not a good Ramones album, although fans will enjoy it well enough. It has moments, but they are few and far between. Well, the first two songs, actually. Elsewhere, the only remarkable thing about this album is just how unremarkable and ordinary it really is.

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    Readers Comments

    stuart diggle studig@hotmail.com
    i actually think, like with most ramones later albums, that side 1 or side a were pretty damn good...side 2's/b's usually struggle to match a / 1

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    Brain Drain( 1989 )
    I Believe in Miracles / Zero Zero U.F.O. / Don't Bust My Chops / Punishment Fits the Crime / All Screwed Up / Palisades Park / Pet Semetary / Learn to Listen / Can't Get You (Outta My Mind) / Ignorance Is Bliss / Come Back, Baby / Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight...

    To my ears and I have nobody else's, this is the best set of Ramones songs for some time. It's still not a great return to form or anything like that, but it works. Easy to listen to, you dig? 'UFO' is a whole dollop of treacle and chocolate pudding fun, 'I Believe In Miracles' as good a Ramones album opener as many for a fine year. Etc, etc. They don't sound desperate here. I don't know who the producer guy, the engineer guy, etc, etc, is - but those guys did well in making The Ramones sound natural. No, not like they did during the heyday of punk, this is no nostalgia trip, but natural. The guitars are heavy, aka Ramones guitars through most of the decade. The songs are ever so slightly slower, aka Ramones songs of the decade. The thing is, this is a fine set of songs. Well, more or less. A few very silly songs, an extremely silly cover of 'Palisades Park', no doubt inspired by the Beach Boys version, sigh. The second half of the album opens with 'Pet Semetary', a fine song that brought renewed attention to The Ramones thanks to the film of the same name. It really is a fine song, by the way. The Ramones may not have had the sonic assault of yore, but they had songs for this album.

    'Learn To Listen' is an old style Ramones thrash filtered through heavy hair metal and the entire nineteen eighties, 'Can't Get You Outta My Mind' has melody, but is kind of ponderous. 'Ignorance Is Bliss' is so dumb it beggars belief, but that's a good thing. The album sounds natural, it doesn't sound either over or under produced. 'Come Back Baby' tries to introduce a little romance into the proceedings, something missing from many a Ramones album previous to this. Building on this is the delight of 'Merry Christmas I Don't Want To Fight'. Oh, so many divorces and fights occur during christmas. Social commentary??? Probably not, lol.

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    Mondo Bizzaro 8 ( 1992 )
    Censorshit / The Job That Ate My Brain / Poison Heart / Anxiety / Strength To Endure / It's Gonna Be Alright / Take It As It Comes / Main Man / Tomorrow She Goes Away / I Won't Let It Happen / Cabbies On Crack / Heidi Is A Headcase / Touring

    A new bass player and a return to basics ensures that 'Mondo Bizzaro' passes by very pleasantly indeed. The band sound refreshed. There's something here for long-term fans and for fans then newly converted. By now, they were the legendary ramones, you know? And, 'Mondo Bizzaro' doesn't disappoint. Every one of the first three songs are very good ramones songs, from the pure punk of the opener, through to the fun thrash through 'The Job That Ate My Brain' through to the ( slightly ) more measured 'Poison Heart'. 'Anxiety' opens with fun punk drums, moves on to darker riffing guitars. The vocals and lyrics are classic in classic Ramones traddition. All is well. 'Strength To Endure' is a song the entire band must have felt something, whilst singing. Well, they did endure. They endured. They never went all 80s, never went all synthetic. Whilst there were inevitably changes, The Ramones always were and always shall be, The Ramones. 'It's Gonna Be Alright' wraps up the first half of the album with more flurries of drums and guitars and more classic sounding Ramones vocal hooks. Sigh.

    'It's Gonna Be Alright' and the scary sounding goth vocal that is a feature of 'Take It As It Comes' both get 'side two' for vinyl freaks, off to a good start. You wonder why the vocal for 'Take It As It Comes' sounds a little scary? Look at the writing credits. Well, when the very Doors sounding organ sound comes floating through and the vocal tries to ape Mr Jim Morrison, you no longer have to wonder. Yeah, great cover, great cover!! Inevitably for a Ramones album containing a lot of classic sounding Ramones tunes, it can get a little wearying if not all of the songs are stellar. 'Main Main' and 'Tomorrow She Goes Away' in particular do nothing for me, so thank god for the sweet guitars and melodies and decent vocal that is 'I Won't Let It Happen'. Thank goodness for the daft but entertaining 'Cabbies On Crack', but more so, 'Heidi Is A Headcase'. And, that's about it bar the closing 'Touring' which sounds so very late seventies, with the Ramones harmonies and all, "rock n roll" in the lyrics - that you may just do a double turn. Still, isn't this what everybody wanted? The Ramones to sound like they did way back when?? It sounds good to me. Sounds like their best since 'Pleasant Dreams' to me.

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    Acid Eaters 4 ( 1993 )
    Journey To The Center Of The Mind / Substitute / Out Of Time / The Shape Of Things To Come / Somebody To Love / When I Was Young / 7 And 7 Is / My Back Pages / Can't Seem To Make You Mine / Have You Ever Seen The Rain? / I Can't Control Myself / Surf City

    I don't really care who it is, I don't generally like albums of cover versions. However well done they are, unless they are done in such an extraordinary way, the versions of the songs transcend the originals. Here, The Ramones make a bunch of songs sound like The Ramones and a bunch of more well known songs sound like a generic Ramones inspired punk band covering songs The Ramones would probably like. In the middle of playing this album, I got bored and put on 'End Of The Century' instead. You know? That's being unfair, I realise, but this album is throwaway. Fun, yeah. But, it means nothing. We all already knew The Ramones influences, an album such as this arrived too late. Maybe they should have released a covers album after 'End Of The Century', you know? You do know that much revilied in certain quarters Spector produced Ramones album remains to this day their best selling album by far, don't you? Not that that means anything, of course. Anyway, it's always a joy to hear The Who's 'Substitute' performed by practically anybody, as long as Tom Jones or Robbie Williams don't decide to cover it, of course.

    I enjoy the love and byrds covers here. Of course, being a Beach Boys nut, I enjoy the Brian Wilson penned 'Surf City', too. 1993 was probably the wrong time for The Ramones to release a covers album, tho. Too little, too late.

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    Adios Amigos 5 ( 1995 )
    I Don't Wanna Grow Up / Makin Monsters For My Friends / It's Not For Me To Know / The Crusher / Life's A Gas / Take The Pain Away / I Love You / Cretin Family / Have A Nice Day / Scattergun / Got A Lot To Say / She Talks In Rainbows / Born To Die In Berlin

    By far and away the best song on this final Ramones album is the Tom Waits tune 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up', a song for The Ramones to sing, if ever there was one. Elsewhere, The Ramones cover tried and tested territory and their promise to split up unless 'Adios Amigos' sold "bucketloads" of copies was held to. This is such a generic Ramones album, it's almost impossible for me to think of anything to say about it, other than, you know, it's ok. It's not crap or anything. 'Life's A Gas' is a joy, inspired as it is by the Marc Bolan of T Rex fame, tune. The Ramones struggling to find quality new tunes? Oh, yeah. Still, they had energy. They had all the required Ramones elements here, apart from catchy tunes that stick in your brain. Come the end of the album, you can be forgiven for seeming quite glad they split up. Perhaps their time was due? You may have noticed how short these last two Ramones reviews are? That reflects how little I can think to say about these albums, how irrelevant new Ramones music had come to be, apart from to all but their most hardcore fanbase. Still, they made a contribution. The debate whether they invented punk or not will rage on, but one thing is clear. The Ramones invented The Ramones. For that, we should ALL be grateful.

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    Readers Comments

    Jamie Curme, believeinmario@yahoo.co.uk
    'the crusher' and 'cretin family' are two of the ramones best songs, and spider man

    kevin keenan kevin.keenan@btopenworld.com
    There has never ben a band that encapsulated the essence of rock and roll and sheer good times boogie than the the ramones. Forget all the pompous crap this is real music

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    this page last updated 16/8/08

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