Sunday, August 25, 2013


One of LEAVE HOME's bigger disappointments, YOU'RE GONNA KILL THAT GIRL had been an early demo (see THE RAMONES' OTHER DEBUT ALBUM ) strong enough to trigger an offer from SIRE records for a single deal-- an offer the RAMONES refused, hoping to hold out for a contract for a complete album. This tactic more or less ended up proving effective, but when time came to finally record the tune for the second long player, the weakly mixed results proved underwhelming enough to have the track nixed as a possible 45.

A strikingly knowing exercise in the doowop genre's dominant changes, the obvious commercial potential of this throwback rocker makes, in retrospect, the piqued interest of their eventual record company unsurprising. Even in demo form, with JOHNNY not quite yet on top of the varying dynamic of the verse/chorus segue, the infectious appeal of the oldie style composition was clearly apparent. The final failure of the LEAVE HOME attempt to fulfill the detectable promise of the original recording remains one of the lp's deepest puzzles.

Commencing with a conceptually sound but somewhat rushed DION & the BELMONTS-style introductory section, the band surges into a chorus and bridge modified to their pulverizing approach, but adhering stringently to the idiom's standard melodies. Once the song proper begins, however, the deficiencies of the production's balance become clear. Perhaps by design (especially if the song was still under consideration as a single), the overall mix seems less brash and heavy than the remainder of the album. The churn of the guitars and bass feels less ferocious, the background singing is insufficiently rousing, and the recurrent problems of the drums being too low in volume and the lead vocals being too high reach an apex of intensity here. Though the performances are primarily more than adequate (and the charms of the number undeniable), the entire effort ends up feeling rather emasculated. (Shortly, an impassioned, dazzling concert performance of the song on IT'S ALIVE would finally allow YOU'RE GONNA KILL THAT GIRL to ascend to its conceived heights.)

Certainly JOEY, who wields the required teen tragedy-style pathos (and seems unfazed by the near-satirical, sick cliche extreme of the lyric) carries through with admirable fervor. But although hardly disastrous, any minimal consideration of this composition's competing versions reveals the sting of wasted opportunity that hangs over this misfire of what shall become one of their most under-regarded early classics. In the end, the best that can be said is how well YOU'RE GONNA KILL THAT GIRL displays the RAMONES' concrete grasp of Rock 'n' Roll's fundamental foundations, and how effortlessly (even unconsciously?) they could be manifested if required-- despite deceptive efforts to affect an 'unschooled' aesthetic.


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