Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Ramones: First Album

I can't resist posting the iconic cover from this first album (1976). I love it! From left to right: Johnny Ramone (lead guitar), Tommy Ramone (drummer), Joey Ramone (frontman), and Dee Dee Ramone (bass).

Based on the first album alone The Ramones really knew their own minds.

A list of what they want:
  • to "Hey Ho, Let's Go."
  • to be your boyfriend.
  • to sniff some glue.
  • to beat you up ('cause you're a loudmouth).
  • to listen to their hearts (so well, they can be smart).
  • to dance (Baby, won't you take a chance?).
  • to make them loco, to make them mambo.
A list of what they DON'T want:
  • to go down to the basement (Hey, Romeo).
  • to walk around with you.
  • to be learned, to be tamed.
In addition, they give out some advice:
  • beat on the brat (with a baseball bat).
  • the difficulty of turning tricks (on 53rd and 3rd).
  • you should never open the door (while they're holding the ax).

This list doesn't include other wants and don't wants from subsequent albums such as "I want to be sedated" and "I don't want to grow up."

I bought the CD at Borders Books and Music for the bargain price of $7.99, a steal for a new CD with 22 tracks. This is a reissue of their first album and includes eight bonus tracks, mostly demos of the original songs. The entire album clocks in at 44.6 minutes and the average length for each song is 2.02 minutes. The longest song, "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (demo version)" clocks in at 3.02 minutes, the shortest song, "Judy is a Punk," is 1.33 minutes long. Sometimes it's difficult to tell when one song ends and the next one begins.

The demo versions are great! The pace is faster and the songs sound rougher overall. This is a very good thing. Years ago while learning about the history of rock 'n roll I found I appreciated a more raw and unrefined sound for most of my favorite bands. I always felt a ballsy sound had more energy.

Blasting The Ramones at maximum volume in my gray, dented Hyundai while driving through Golden Gate Park at 12:30 a.m. was pure bliss. I felt a great aaaahhhhhh come over me. Hearing Dee Dee's iconic "1-2-3-4" shout and the band's driving guitar both relaxes me and makes me want to jump up and down while furiously shaking my head.

The glee of recognition permeates the music as well as the tongue-in-cheek dark subjects in some of the songs. You can hear a thousand punk garage bands picking up their instruments. You can hear the influences near and far. From The Sex Pistols to Rancid to Green Day, they all started here with this album.

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