Monday, July 29, 2013
NOW I WANNA BE A GOOD BOY-- Leave Home 8
Tribal drums. Multiple bridges. 1-4-1 accented riffs. Muted 'clicking' guitar sections. A few sentences of sparse lyric punctuated by multiple 'wanna' repetitions. At this point, a record and a half in, the formula's attributes for the RAMONES' songwriting must have started to feel durably dependable. That makes the manner in which this kitchen sinkful of stock moves & motifs just misses the mark all the more puzzling.
Things begin promisingly, with a unique (and unrepeated) intro: muscular and heavy, with a powerful floor tom sound. This immediately jumps into the vocal section, and it is here where the recurring oversoft snare/overloud vocals problem rears its head once again, deflating the momentum considerably from the potent opening. (A debut-album-style swing up to a higher octave from DEEDEE doesn't improve matters either.) The two verse repetitions are followed by two different (but similar) chord progressions. The second, ending in a higher pitch, builds anticipation to an awesome, pflanged, tribal stomp. The absence of lyrics in these sections seems odd, however overall JOEY's non-appearance helps to cancel out the balance problems of the mix (as does the more forceful playing on these bridges). A tightly wound guitar section with BEAT ON THE BRAT-derived accents on the four brings us back to the verses for another go around each section.
It is the deft dexterity with which the band moves around these numerous changes which finally proves to be the track's greatest strength. But something about the tune feels thrown together, and in the end the simple reiteration for the second half seems unadventurous compared to the dizzying arrangement of NOW I WANNA SNIFF SOME GLUE, this piece's obvious antecedent.
As for the words, the attempt to forge another simplistic 'wanna' meditation also seems poorly thought out, lacking charm and even, truthfully, several expected internal rhymes. (It doesn't help that the sole appearance of vocals is on top of the song's least interesting melody, a dreary A-F-G which pales alongside the composition's other, more explosive passages.) Although the verses somewhat adequately manifest the contradictory poignancy of teenaged yearnings-- contrasting the drive to avoid judgement, yet longing for autonomy (even if is serves no purpose other than to battle ennui on one's own individual terms)-- they lack the haiku precision and good punchline which usually punctuate the RAMONES' lyrical efforts in this form.
So chalk up a couple of good riffs, some energetic playing, and a typically impassioned performance from a disappointingly underutilized JOEY. The assembly line of perfect punk masterpieces had to pause at some point, and this (still fun) offering truthfully revealed only minor chinks in the armor. The struggles with the persistence of quality material were still many years away, and for now the boys' desire to be 'good' was being met, and then some, with impressive regularity.
RAMONES NOW I WANNA BE A GOOD BOY