Tag Archives: ramones

SOTD: Little Steven’s Merry Christmas Video

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)

Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul Deliver a raucous Christmas video for us all, just in time to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.  They offer a totally re-imagined version of The Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” that would have surely left Joey smiling.  It’s a hip, cool New Jersey version versus the original, snarl-laced New York classic.

Continue reading SOTD: Little Steven’s Merry Christmas Video

Radkey Steals the Show

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Radkey Steals the Show

Full disclosure: we only got to the arena early to make sure we had a good spot secured for the headliners, Rise Against, but we came away with so much more.  This talented young trio from Missouri showed us their tremendous potential in a power-packed thirty minute set.

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Radkey are three young brothers from St. Joseph, who defy categorization. They absolutely embody everything that is great about rock ‘n roll. They are different for sure, and in rock music, different is so damn rare these days, and in this case, oh so welcome!

With singer and lead guitarist, Dee Radke being the eldest brother at a tender 20 years old, they are young, but on stage they put on a show that belies their youth. Dee’s vocals feature a nice range including a distinct powerful baritone. He’s joined by 18 year-old Isaiah on bass and the baby-faced Solomon beating the drums. All three members are talented musicians, three home-schooled youngsters who are the antithesis of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. They’re into reading, anime, and science fiction, oh and apparently pretty serious about their music, as they are all self-taught.

They are three young African Americans who grew up on The Misfits, Ramones and Foo Fighters, and those influences ooze through clearly when they command the stage. (As a writer named after a Ramones song, I have a special affinity for young bands influenced by the punk legends). I’d characterize their music as pop-punk; it’s aggressive rock with clever riffs and hooks. Their guitar and bass riffs are captivating and catchy as hell. The arrangement of their songs is deliciously messy, yet polished at the same time.

The two eldest brothers fly around the stage, all the while thrashing out fantastic music. Isaiah is a whirling dervish who never stops moving and seems quite comfortable interacting with the crowd, while dishing out breakneck bass chords. Dee was slightly less aggressive on-stage, but still put on a tremendous performance, and had a few nice slides across the floor as he dished out killer riffs. Solomon capped off the trio perfectly, delivering freight train drums throughout the powerful seven song set.

The crowd was actively engaged in the performance and seemed to deeply appreciate their delicious rock noise. Tim McIlrath of Rise Against dished out a tremendous compliment, when he compared this hard working band to their own roots a decade and a half ago.

If there’s anything right in the rock ‘n roll world, we will be seeing this band perform live for many years to come.

Rock On!
Cretin

Cat & Mouse – EP – Radkey

The Last of the Original Ramones

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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!
Cretin

Mustard Plug – Can’t Contain it

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Upcoming Mustard Plug Florida Dates
Thursday, January 23, at Will’s Pub in Orlando Click here for tickets
Friday, January 24, at Churchills in Miami
Saturday, January 25,  at Loosey’s in Gainesville Click here for tickets
Sunday, January 26, at Beachside Tavern in New Smyrna Beach

Mustard Plug – Can’t Contain It Album Review

I think it’s important every now and then to stop whatever you’re doing, raise your red solo cup, and salute a band in pursuit of party. Mustard Plug’s new album Can’t Contain It certainly encourages this notion.

The album comes across as sort of a motivational speech to dance. Can’t Contain It starts off with a musical kick to the face as the horns in “We Came to Party” hypnotize the listener into a head bobbing, arm flailing, irresistible urge to dance. Not since the Ramones 1976 “Blitzkrieg Bop” have the words “hey, ho” had such feeling behind them. As the chorus echoes these hallowed words, the listener is jolted with energy. The first time I heard “We Came to Party” I was as encouraged to get out of my chair and dance as I was to get out of my chair and chuck it across the room. But, I think it’s this uncontainable burst of emotions extracted from the song that tips a hat to the band’s prominent punk side; while the band’s small but devoted brass section reminds the listener that Mustard Plug intertwines its punk roots with ska vines.

However, Can’t Contain It isn’t all fun and games, as a few songs on the album play to the band’s darker more serious side. While my favorite songs on the album are the thrashy ones like “We Came to Party” and “Aye Aye Aye;” it’s the more solemn songs on the album that suggest Mustard Plug has spent the last seven years since their previous album release, maturing as a band. It’s easy to party, if that’s what you’re good at, and Mustard Plug’s last seven albums are a testament to this. Yet, it is their latest album that proves they’ve come to stand for something more than just party music.

The second to last song on the album, “Perfect Plan” is evidence of this truth. The lyrics in this song are a testament to Mustard Plug’s successful attempt to reach their audience on a deeper level. “Should we start before we end” and “will we make it to the summer” are two questions posed in a song about a relationship that doesn’t quite pan out the way two lovers thought it might. Clocking in at just over two minutes, the song is short, it’s sweet, it’s relatable, but above all else, it’s honest. It’s tough to write a song as honest as “Perfect Plan,” both melodically and lyrically. Yet, it’s even tougher to convey the kind of feeling prevalent in lead vocalist, David Kirchgessner’s voice. It’s rare to find a vocalist as seemingly invested in each and every song as Kirchgessner.

Die-hard fans of Mustard Plug will be pleasantly surprised while new listeners will be hooked. I highly recommend getting a group of friends together, hitting the nearest bar, and blasting Mustard Plug’s newest album Can’t Contain It. You might dance, you might get in a bar fight, or you might even just shed a tear. No matter how you feel after you’ve listen to the album, one things for sure, you know you’ve felt something.

-Joey Farese

Upcoming Mustard Plug Florida Dates
Thursday, January 23, at Will’s Pub in Orlando Click here for tickets
Friday, January 24, at Churchills in Miami
Saturday, January 25,  at Loosey’s in Gainesville Click here for tickets
Sunday, January 26, at Beachside Tavern in New Smyrna Beach

 

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.