Sunday, March 10, 2013

CHAINSAW--Ramones 5

With this track the RAMONES begin mapping out their trash culture aesthetic for the first time, namedropping specific reference to one of their pet obsessions- Tobe Hooper's horror film THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. (It shall be assumed that the group were not actually fans of the Ice Capades.) The song is prefaced by another maneuver which will soon become commonplace: the heightened impact of a comedic sound effect. (The menacing roar of a chainsaw is actually supplanted by the teeth grinding shriek of a circular buzzsaw, though this contradictory detail is more likely born of convenience than of concept.)

Kicking off with an appealing--and unfortunately unrepeated--vocal hook, the band abandons the somewhat more tempered groove of the demo (see RAMONES: THE EARLY DEMOS ) for a stronger visceral attack. The earlier recording is rooted in the much lower key of Fsharp, so the more considered tempo could simply be the result of varispeeding down a notch. After a few of JOEY's most eccentric pronunciations--on the words 'massacre' and 'there'-- the song seamlessly flips the switch from the blunt punk of the opening sections to the melodic, BEACH BOYS-influenced pop of the middle eight. JOEY's lead exhibits surprisingly imaginative nuances in phrasing as the the well arranged background vocals lend strong support, aided no doubt by another appearance of his younger brother MICKEY LEIGH, who once again makes his presence felt as this album production's secret weapon.

The romanticisms of this detour are unsurprisingly usurped in the closing lyric's punchline.There is no genuine concern at all, even if the object of affection ends up cut into pieces- another cross-purpose, dismissive, distancing, sick joke to a song significant in standing as a sick joke already.  Finally, in the 4-word chant coda (perhaps influenced by a similarly worded ad-lib at the beginning of the NEW YORK DOLLS' Personality Crisis) gleefully antithetical opposites are absurdly intoned in a repetitive, chanting fade out. (Another tactic which will be more fully developed later, via classic songs such as PINHEAD and WE'RE A HAPPY FAMILY.)


Photo by Roberta Bayley

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