Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I CAN'T BE (demo)--Ramones 18

Along with I DON'T WANNA BE LEARNED/I DON'T WANNA BE TAMED, this track was one of two songs attempted at the first RAMONES demo session in 1975 that remained unreleased until the ALL THE STUFF (AND MORE) Vol. 1 CD compilation came out in 1990. The compositions reveal a fascinating insight into what the band considered unworthy of pursuing for full fledged recording later. Though obviously less developed than some of the material which ended up making the cut, both primitive compositions pack some power, and both are well served by the crunchy sound achieved by TOMMY at their first studio visit (see RAMONES: THE EARLY DEMOS).

An amusing dismissal of domesticity, I CAN'T BE finds JOEY tailoring his odd style to the minimalist lyric with surprising early ease. The two main sections are near identical chord progressions simply moved a step up whenever the vocals occur, and the relatively relaxed arrangement finds the band in engagingly confident form (with especially rubbery bass playing from DEEDEE standing out.)

There's a big surprise waiting for the middle section, however. Although as a whole unceremoniously abandoned for future usage, the instrumental break would eventually be retooled as the primary riff of CHINESE ROCK-- hopefully settling once and for all DEEDEE's sole authorship of that multi-band classic. This sort of cannibalizing existent melodies for recycling into new material would become more prevalent as the RAMONES entered the latter part of their career. Here the riff makes a one string jump up from the key of A to D (a move which will be mimicked on the later track), but then makes another extra step an equal interval up to G. The exciting result is that the jump up to the unrelated realm of E for the last chorus has nearly the impact of a key change.

In the style of the debut LP's HAVANA AFFAIR, this section is notably augmented by an extra overdubbed rhythm guitar for heavier punch (see HAVANA AFFAIR--Ramones 9). This is an interesting adornment for a mere demo session, perhaps reflecting that at least initially the band considered the song deserving of some attention. That the digital age has transformed this forgotten obscurity into a relatively common CD bonus track has been a turn of events most welcome.


Photo by Roberta Bayley

No comments:

Post a Comment