Monday, May 26, 2008
fanatic as such. My brother had all their early, essential albums when I was about 13: he purchased certain bands, I purchased others. I'll let it be known that I didn't actually own a single Ramones album 'til my 30s. It suddenly struck me one day that I wanted to hear "Blitzkrieg Bop", yet had no access to it. Never had any reason to jump up and demand to hear such things before; in my teens I need only visit the room down the hallway, and in my 20s... well, I felt like I'd heard the Ramones approximately 30,000 times as it was, so the urge never hit me. And then it did. And so here it is. The band make a whole lot more sense to me now than they did as a 13- or 14-year-old. As much as I liked their smart/dumb no-holds-barred rockin' jams, they still struck me as too goofy to claim as my own. I needed angst or weirdness, or, better yet, a combination of the two. Stuff like the Sex Pistols or Flipper or the Bad Brains made perfect sense; the Ramones were seen as kinda, umm, bubblegum. Doesn't mean I didn't dig 'em. When I rediscovered the band as a 30-ish gent, I told a punker friend all about just how great they were, how absurdly and courageously minimalist their entire schtick was, and how indeed I considered them to be the ultimate NYC minimal rock outfit, outstripping even the likes of Suicide or the Velvets. He thought I was full of shit, simply trying to rationalise why a 30-year-old guy who'd just spent the last 10 years lobotomising himself w/ a load of art-wank nonsense would get such a boner over a well-worn subject as the Ramones. Well, he probably had a point. There's no rationalisations necessary and I certainly don't feel that angst is a prerequisite for music worth giving a hoot about, so let's call it what it is. Ramones was released 32 years ago, and yet it sounds fresher and more alive than any "new rock" or nu-metal or "hardcore" outfit you could strap me down and force me to listen to. That ain't because great rock 'n' roll doesn't exist anymore - in fact a good buddy of mine and fellow boffin known for equally long and tedious tirades as myself has informed me that the US is currently undergoing its greatest revival of cool underground rock bands not seen since the glory days of '91-'94 (ask me for a list) - but because the Ramones birthed a whole new form of music. You can call it punk rock. I'll call it that, along w/ being a total de-/reconstruction of all great pop/rock that'd hit earth up until the year 1976. The Ramones have now been given full credit for all their glories (and sins): in print, film and never-ending MOJO articles. I'd be happy for them, if any of them were alive today (other than a couple of drummers), though having seen End Of The Century several times (a brilliantly depressing documentary of the truly peculiar individuals who made up the band), I think I can say that any credit they received didn't seem to make 'em happy, nor would it make them actually like each other anymore. But you've still got this: the first 6 Ramones album, the template for just about any rock band worth giving a hoot for post-1976: Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket To Russia, Road To Ruin, It's Alive and the much-maligned (and now reassessed) End Of The Century. I challenge anyone to give me a better rollcall of flat-out rock 'n' roll released in quick succession by any other group in history.