Monday, August 5, 2013

WHAT'S YOUR GAME-- Leave Home 10

An extremely early effort from JOEY which had already been demoed in practically identical form (see RAMONES: THE EARLY DEMOS), this sludgy ballad was held off of the debut for later inclusion here. But besides the predictable root key adjustment- a step up from the first attempt- little tangible effort has gone towards its improvement. The undeveloped melody gets some window dressing via some sonically attractive guitar strum overdubs, and the lush background vocals do display some amount of care (the response to the second syllable of 'insane' is undeniably memorable), but the minimal consideration afforded this benchwarmer finally results in perhaps the dreariest track created by the RAMONES' original lineup.

The lyric pertains to a girl's struggles with mental illness, one of their least compelling explorations of this subject. The allusions to 'sweet' Mary Jane already sounded out of date at the time of LEAVE HOME's release, and the subsequent Punk movement's backlash against hippies only amplified this anachronism. (Indeed, although at least two members continued to toke up, the future would hold few, if any, references to marijuana in the group's lyrics-- despite regular mentions of other harder drugs and pharmaceuticals.) Similarly, the protagonist's desire to conform her appearance to those who surround her seemed at odds with the burst of individualism that the New Wave's culture explosion would soon embrace. Also, JOEY's repetitions of 'yeah' at the second chorus' emotional apex ring slightly overwrought and old fashioned, though otherwise he strives to be sincere and convincing with verses which, though underwhelming, in all probability represent a thinly veiled self portrait.

The cannabis code words and reverb drenched vocals do mark this track notably as the RAMONES' first dabbling in psychedelia. Not wielded again until the MARKY era, the middle section of IT'S NOT MY PLACE (IN THE 9 TO 5 WORLD) from PLEASANT DREAMS prefaced the first full fledged plunge into the tripped out realm with TIME HAS COME TODAY on SUBTERRANEAN JUNGLE. This would finally culminate on ACID EATERS, a concept record of predominantly LSD era cover versions, and for their final album they would go down to the rabbit hole well one more time with SHE TALKS TO RAINBOWS, a measurably more effective (and weathered) reiteration of WHAT'S YOUR GAME's musical and lyrical ideas.


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