Saturday, May 11, 2013
BLITZKRIEG BOP (single version)--Ramones 22
The WARNER ARCHIVES Expanded CD version of the RAMONES album concludes with this tantalizing oddity. Correctly recognizing the commercial and aesthetic appeal of the relatively new leadoff track, BLITZKRIEG BOP was wisely chosen as the record's first single.(I WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND would be the second, starting off the questionable habit of releasing hopeful 45s of the band's softest material--one they did not fully shake until the RICHIE era. They even served up I REMEMBER YOU as LEAVE HOME's initial 7 inch offering, a highly dubious tactic which bore no fruit.) Surely JUDY IS A PUNK was in the running, given its appearance on the band's second, more 'commercial' group of demos. One hopes that LISTEN TO MY HEART was at least briefly considered, and since SIRE's first proposed contract with the band was a single deal for the demoed YOU'RE GONNA KILL THAT GIRL, perhaps the similarly 60's flavored LET'S DANCE was an also ran? Regardless, the group did not dent Billboard's Hot 100 until SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER the following year.
In the hopes of strengthening BLITZKRIEG BOP's chances on the charts, a sleight doctoring of the track's mix was applied. But what a difference it makes! The ludicrous stereo separation has been discarded, and the guitars and bass finally charge out of both speakers. DEEDEE's playing has also been nudged up a bit more prominently, and the increased throb is plainly evident when the two takes are compared side by side. The vocals have been 'sweetened' with a minimal amount of echo and reverb, which not only offers JOEY more 'protection' than he generally receives on the first LP, but also lends the singalong chants a stronger, 'tribal' feel.
Such minor adjustments, but to hear the RAMONES' top forty aspirations tangibly actualized in production approach on this material is a revealing thrill, especially since there is scant evidence of any similar action on the remainder of the debut. (In fact, once one has acclimated to its raw, unadorned sound, it can be momentarily disorienting to ingest this charged 'pop' version.) While the mid-90s IGGY POP remix of RAW POWER was a project driven by questionable motivations and achieving highly debatable results, the idea of handing over the inaugural release to TOMMY and/or ED STASIUM for a similar overall rethink truly might not be without merit. At the very least one must wonder what consequences might have unfolded had the entire cache of songs been given this amount of extra due consideration in the first place. If nothing else, it sure is nice to hear JOHNNY & DEEDEE blasting from both channels, a rare treat for those listeners whose receivers are of insufficient vintage to feature a 'MONO/STEREO' switch.
RAMONES BLITZKRIEG BOP (single version)
Photo by Roberta Bayley