Addressing the ever-shrinking credibility of rock journalism since 2007. With a sasquatch.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Under Review: The Ramones

Johnny, Joey, Tommy and Dee Dee are The Ramones circa 1978
The Ramones went from just another NYC Bowery band to a 30 year juggernaut.

"Don't become one of Hitler's children." - Bonzo Goes To Bitburg, Animal Boy

The Ramones crawled out of the New York Bowery scene in the mid-1970's to become one the most definitive bands in rock 'n roll. They played over 2000 shows over the next 22 years becoming the band that was there from the beginning to the bitter end of the first wave of Punk rock music.

As Johnathon "Rotten" Lydon and Malcolm McClaren were interviewing bassists for the Sex Pistols, Jeffrey "Joey Ramone" Hyman was busy being booted out of Bowery Bars for being the "weird guys in the leather jackets". In a town that was embracing disco and clinging to the last derivative gasps of folk music, rock 'n roll was alien and weird. The Ramones first appearences at CBGB's were nightmares. The owner, Hilly Kristal, hated them, the crowd hated them, future members of The Misfits, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, and Television in the audience hated them - and all of them bought their albums anyway.

Their material covered everything and did it with a growl. The wild, lovelorn, lanky and lovable creeps were fans of pulp comics, very bad movies, and even badder girls. They were products of the American suburbs and cities that they played and lived in. Their music and image let their audience know that there was no escape from a mangled mainstream society other than what you can make of it: that music was somehow a tool to build an escape hatch from institutionalized insanity.

With 14 studio albums, 2263 live shows, and one surviving original member later (drummer Tommy Erdelyi) the Ramones body of work is still raw, sick and enjoyable on many levels. The Ramones look like they will go down in history as the band that America loved to hate.


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