Tuesday, April 23, 2013

JUDY IS A PUNK (Demo)--Ramones 16

With a piano, tambourine, and extra background vocals, the second Marty Thau demo of the previously attempted JUDY IS A PUNK (see RAMONES: THE EARLY DEMOS) bends over backwards to display the popular potential of the band's material. For the recording that finally ended up on the debut LP, much of this was discarded, leaving only added handclaps as sole remnant of the commercial aspiration present in this version. It stands as one of those rarest of birds: The Overproduced Demo.

That aside, the group alters the song surprisingly little over the course of three tries. The first recording's key of D has already been abandoned for the nearby Eflat, which presents a twofold mystery: A) If varispeeding was used originally, what exactly was to be gained by slowing down to merely one fret away- a minimally detectable adjustment- and B) What exactly would motivate the minimalist RAMONES towards the final key of Eflat, an extremely uncommon starting point in guitar driven music?

The only other non-constant is DEEDEE's background vocals. He's wobbily but energetic on the first demo, and on the LP version (no doubt supported by MICKEY LEIGH) he is assured but less adventurous. On this take he's a bit listless, although for the first time here he adorns the instrumental break with the now-familiar arrangement of 'oohs.'

In the final tally, this second demo simply lacks the heavy, gooey punk of the first attempt, but also falls short of the raw, focused snap of the LP version. For all the window dressing, the Marty Thau demos succeeded at little other than making the RAMONES appear less dangerous and crazed than they actually were. Which, admittedly, might have been the point.


Photo by Roberta Bayley

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