Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I DON'T WANNA BE LEARNED/I DON'T WANNA BE TAMED (demo)-- Ramones 20
Like I CAN'T BE, this track was recorded at the initial demo session of the RAMONES (see RAMONES: THE EARLY DEMOS), but remained unreleased until its appearance on the ALL THE STUFF (AND MORE) VOL I CD in 1990. Abandoned in favor of other material for inclusion on their first records, its belated unearthing years later proved to be a startling revelation- for this uncut diamond amounted to no less than a six word, two part, four chord, 66 second group manifesto.
Theoretically charting the band's musical and songwriting development, indicators seem to point to this being an extremely early composition. The possibility of a third part is never broached, and maybe to even refer to the second change as a 'part' is too generous? Perhaps, more accurately, a one part song with two changes. As well, the words never expand beyond the title, much less settle into a standard verse/chorus construction. Still, somehow akin to ELVIS PRESLEY's My Happiness, one is struck by the arrival of the young artist(s) to their first session in an already almost perfectly realized state- a fully conceptualized, utterly unique hybrid of unlikely, disparate influences.
Even affording their predecessors due consideration only underlines the unprecedented nature of the RAMONES' resultant sound. Early rock 'n' roll may have exhorted Beethoven to roll over in his grave, but even the roughest hewn rockabilly would hesitate to make do with so few rebellious phrases. British Invasion's catchy melodies figure, but the arrangement would likely be adorned by at least an intro and middle eight. American garage rock is suggested, but their brash clamor would rarely be rendered to such a restrictively flourishless din. (Perhaps the TROGGS or SONICS came closest, but the former would balk at being so non-amorous, and the latter would resist being so understated.) The STOOGES' bluntest offerings, such as 1969 or No Fun, still adhere to a certain undercurrent of 1-4-5 rock cliche basically ignored here. The shambolic sway of the NEW YORK DOLLS hardly ever reached such levels of driving focus. (If anything, this presages the leaner, stripped down swagger of JOHNNY THUNDERS' subsequent HEARTBREAKERS.) And even the most relentlessly paced hard rock of the era, say BLACK SABBATH'S Paranoid, STILL just wasn't this FAST--and the RAMONES were only going to accelerate from here on.
Not too infer flawlessness- the drumming waivers occasionally, and DEEDEE is a tad hesitant (which ironically somehow makes his sweeps up to the song's highest bass notes more loopily exciting.) JOHNNY, however, is dead on merciless, and JOEY is suffering no amateur qualms towards his quirky pronunciation of 'tamed.' Overall, the extraordinary impression one walks away with is a band confident in their strengths and settled into their scene, not a combo scrambling to disguise their shortcomings on their first foray to put some material on to tape.
Perhaps finally discarded for being too primitive and underdeveloped (imagine that!), I DON'T WANNA BE LEARNED/I DON'T WANNA BE TAMED set a standard for willfully raw simplicity maybe unmatched until much later by the nearly self parodic I LOST MY MIND and the lyricless DURANGO 95. True, over the course of a long career the pursuit of mainstream acceptance precipitated many different, wider experiments in technique and compromises in overall original approach. But in this embryonic track, they unwittingly codified their very self purpose, and uncannily concocted a nearly foolproof barometer which throughout the peaks and valleys of their history would reflect the maintenance of their aesthetic success in accordance to the level of strict adherence to its ethos.
RAMONES I DON'T WANNA BE LEARNED/I DON'T WANNA BE TAMED
Photo by Roberta Bayley