Monday, March 4, 2013
BEAT ON THE BRAT--Ramones 2
For the assertive, two note riff that opens this track THE RAMONES employ a device which they will turn to again and again on their early albums. JOHNNY, starting on the 7th fret utilizes the most primitive barre chord change possible popping 'up' from B to E- meanwhile DEEDEE, who has quirkily rooted his part on the third string of his bass jumps 'down' from a relatively high B to a lower E simultaneously. This (perhaps unplanned?) technique results in an odd dissonant tension in even the simplest of chord progressions.
One of the most easily mastered of all the band's songs for beginning players, the verse section is rooted in 1-4-5 (the second in a series of four songs that open the album which share this trait) before moving to a third section of almost nursery rhyme level simplicity. The medium tempo, lurching nature of the piece shows off the production to rather poor effect. Between DEEDEE's disdain for his E string and JOHNNY's muted chords the song has hardly any low end response at all. The drums as well are so flatly recorded that an interesting repeated snare roll motif on the verse is rendered almost inconsequential. All of this, in a decade where the seamless sheen of glossy, overproduced studio trickery was the musical norm.
The lyrics similarly strike brashly at accepted boundaries, repetitively staking out turf in a humor so sick that its extremity somehow flies past offensiveness to land in a sort of cartoonish absurdity. JOEY then takes things a further step, imbuing his vocal with an incongruous, almost sexual comeonish sultriness on the verse before rising to a passionate plea on the chorus. There's no telling where things might go--one part fills up the space at the end of a line with an attractive figure of 'yeahs' & 'ohs', while later a desolate measure is merely given a blase, one note reading of words like 'lose.' The results lean toward delirium.
Consider then JOEY's bizarre vocal the cherry on top of a litany of oddball factors that still somehow chalk up to another distinctive, unquestionable RAMONES classic. The strength of the strange appeal of this dastardly ditty could not have been concocted by ANY other combo.
RAMONES BEAT ON THE BRAT
Photo by Roberta Bayley