Tag Archives: joey ramone

The Last of the Original Ramones


R.I.P. Ramones

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh…

Tommy Ramone succumbs in his battle against bile duct cancer, and the first thing I think of is The Beatles?

I know, it seems kind of crazy, but to me, it all makes sense.

In a way, The Ramones, were my Beatles. No, I am not saying they were as talented, prolific, famous, charming, and damn sure not as good looking. Nope, but these ugly bastards were wonderful in their own right, and in their own way genre-defining, as well. I love and appreciate all that The Beatles did, but I LOVED The Ramones.

By the time I was aware of The Ramones, Tommy had already been replaced on drums, in what became one of those infamous Spinal Tap-like revolving door positions speckled throughout rock history.

Tommy wrote and played drums on the band’s first three albums, during that chaotic creative outburst that spanned 1976 and 1977. The debut offering, eponymously titled, was churned out in one week, cost less than ten grand and actually mimicked some recording techniques used by the Beatles.  But this music was just a wee bit different.

From Johnny’s piercing opening guitar riff, Tommy’s violent drumming, and Joey’s first lyrics “Hey Ho, Let’s Go,” the first track, “Blitzkrieg Bop” grabbed you by the ears and demanded attention.  It was a breakneck punk anthem-in-the-waiting and the sign of things to come on the album and in the future. It was splattered with raw, powerful, aggressive punk. But it wasn’t all high-powered punk, as the album also offered the tender “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” a yearning ballad penned by Tommy.

Their music was often violent, sometimes political, usually thought provoking, occasionally funny and constantly captivating.   They poured out a dozen albums in their tumultuous two decades together, music often covered by diverse artists, and inspiration for countless punk bands in the years to come.

The band members, who were all unrelated, fought like brothers.  I’ve read enough about the band to realize that in the end, they actually did hate each other and that antagonistic relationship permeated their time together. But, that friction led to good, edgy, passionate music.

Wiry thin frontman, Joey (think a thinner, uglier Howard Stern) was the face of the band. Decked in shredded jeans, an omnipresent leather jacket and dark shades, he was a loner and all around cranky dude. He was, well how do you say it… a dick when he performed. I saw him shove a few fans off of the stage and clock a few with the business end of a mic stand. But he had undeniable charisma.  He got most of the attention, and I think that added to the band’s friction, as he did minimal writing, and had questionable musical talent, but I loved watching him on-stage. And, I was not alone.

I’m tough to please at live concerts, but I caught these ruffians a handful of times and always left the night with a huge smile plastered on my face. I sang along to all of their crazy lyrics; I hate to dance, but never stopped bouncing around at a Ramones show; and I stage dove exactly once in my 500 or so concerts – yup, at a Ramones show.  Their sets were short, energetic and absolute mayhem; damn near rock ‘n roll perfection.

After Tommy left the band, frustrated by poor record sales, the others pounded out a dozen more albums and a slew of memorable hits. The record sales came later, as a direct result of their killer live performances.  They took an unusual approach on their fifth album, End Of The Century, where they collaborated with legendary producer Phil Spector. The result? A big Motown influenced sound, with another handful of killer tracks. Again, they pushed the envelope, and opened up fertile new ground for punk performers.

Not all rock critics and fans loved the band and their music, but the great majority could not deny the critical role they played in rock history.

Just put me in a wheelchair get me to the show
Hurry hurry hurry before I go loco
I can’t control my fingers I can’t control my toes
Oh no no no no no

If you’re a fan of rock music and you don’t own any Ramones, grab the album linked below this post. If you’ve already got your Ramones library well-stocked, take a few minutes and get your fix. You’ll be guaranteed to start your week off in a better mood.

I’ll leave you with this little sound check from the song where I grabbed my moniker.

All good cretins have gone to heaven; long live The Ramones!

Rock On!

Joey Ramone’s New Music is the Answer

Sixteen years after parting ways with the godfathers of punk rock, and ten years after losing a long battle with lymphoma, Ramones front man Joey Ramone is again making waves with his latest album, …Ya Know?

Like so many other posthumous releases, I suspected the album would be a pure money grab packed with leftover dregs from earlier projects. I was wrong.  The album is a nice collection of earlier stuff, but with a cool twist. The project started when Ed Stasium and Ramone’s real brother Mickey Leigh obtained the rights to the remaining tapes of Joey’s unreleased vocal tracks, all recorded in the dozen years preceding his passing. From there, they assembled an all-star band to lend their music to the project; folks like Richie Ramone, Steve Van Zandt, Joan Jett, Bun E. Carlos, Mickey Leigh and a slew of other contemporaries from New York City.

The result is an album that’s pretty damn diverse, and a fitting tribute.  You’ll hear a few cuts that hearken back to the Gabba Gaaba Heydays of the Ramones, but you’ll also hear Joey stretching himself in numerous surprising ways throughout the album.

The album kicks off with “Rock ‘N Roll is the Answer,” the first single.  It’s a decent song, but there are plenty of better choices as single releases.  “New York City” is reminiscent of classic Ramones and a hell of a lot of fun.  It’s a straight forward ode to the city where Joey reached legendary status.

A couple of the songs remind me musically of Social Distortion, just with Joey subbing in for Mike Ness.  Check out “What Did I Do to Deserve You” and “Seven Days of Gloom” for a taste.  “Eyes of Green” and “I Couldn’t Sleep” could have been plucked directly from the happy hard-driving regional rock of the late 80’s. “21st Century Girl” is of the same vein, and as a bonus, features Joan Jett on guitar and backing vocals.

“Party Line” is surely a holdover from the Phil Spector days and is the most intriguing track on the album. It comes off as a duet with Holly Beth Vincent, who you may remember from Joey’s “I Got You Babe” cover. The song also features Van Zandt on guitar, and shows Ramone singing in a new range.  It’s addictive stuff.

…’Ya Know? also displays Joey’s tender side on “Make Me Tremble and “Waiting for That Railroad.” Neither will remind you of Ramones, but they’re both interesting peeks into Ramone’s soft side, and the former is a pretty good song. You’ll also get to hear Joey put a nice spin on his previously released Christmas tune “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).”

The album is a nice surprise and leaves me reminiscing once again about the Godfather of American Punk and wishing we had been given the chance to watch him mature and adapt to the times.  On …’Ya Know? at least we finally get  a glimpse.

Rock On – Cretin

Gabba Gabba Hey from the Grave

Heard Joey Ramones’ new release “New York City” the other day. It’s a cool tune reminiscent of late Ramones stuff, and I think we’ll see it become an anthem of sorts for the Big Apple – if it ever gets any airplay, and that’s a big “if.”. This one actually has the potential to be a hit. Interesting stuff considering Joey died more than 10 years ago. Heard it twice on Sirius XM’s, Little Steven’s Underground Garage in the past few days, but can’t find it on the web.  If I recall correctly, this album has been tied up in legal proceedings for about  five years. Sure, hope it sees the light of day.

Found a very cool live Foo Fighters song on Youtube. This one features the Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins getting behind the mike and stepping out in front of the band, while Roger Taylor slides into his seat behind the drums, and Brian May joins them on-stage for a cover of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down.” It absolutely rocks, and would have made Freddie proud. Check it out here!  I’ve seen the Foo Fighters a few times, and truly believe Taylor could someday front his own band similar to the leap Dave Grohl took after Nirvana.

My current favorite new tune is “Crystal Vases” by The Last Royals. They’re a new duo out of Brooklyn New York, and this first tune is a killer.  If you live around Brooklyn, check them out at Pete’s Candy Store on July 25th. If you don’t live around New York, you are out of luck, as nothing else is planned at this time.