Friday, September 27, 2013
Sorry for the lag in posts, I'm in the middle of moving. The next list RAMONES TOP TEN LOVE SONGS is almost finished. Until then, here's a piece i put together that didn't quite fit in over here, a collection of RAMONES videos that reference footage from famous movies. Check 'em out, and you'll hear from me again soon!
CHOP HER UP AND I DON'T CARE: TOP TEN RAMONES MOVIE MASHUPS!
Thanks for reading!
Cool illustration by SAMY THE KAY. Click here for shortcut to his tumblr.
SAMY THE KAY--ILLUSTRATIONS IN SOUND
Monday, September 16, 2013
The remaining LEAVE HOME Expanded CD bonus offerings comprise an entire live performance at the ROXY in Hollywood from August of 1976-- indeed, their first major trip away from 'HOME.' It reveals the band honing their early stage attack, and spotlighting a handful of tracks from their upcoming sophomore LP-- at that point still a half year away from being released. The set displays blooming confidence and an already noticably accelerating drive (two selections from this recording, CALIFORNIA SUN and I DON'T WANNA WALK AROUND WITH YOU eventually found their way on to 45 b-sides.) But although undoubtedly capturing a pivotal point triggering the soon-to-explode L.A. punk scene, this very good (but not exceptional) show is bound to compare unfavorably with IT'S ALIVE and other readily available performances featuring the original lineup. With several notable original demos still uncollected, and the added single track SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER inexplicably nudged off the program for eventual appearance elsewhere, the wisdom of including this complete show remains debatable. (Certainly, for example, on the IT'S ALIVE dvd collection, a tendency towards cherrypicking from key shows as opposed to using all available tracks would dominate.) Sonically only slightly better than bootleg level quality, this material is perhaps best absorbed as a snapshot of the band at exactly the midway point between their inception and initial peak. For our purposes here-- focusing on recording and composition-- a brief assessment shall suffice.
The standard opener of their embryonic era kicks off with JOEY's humorous audience greeting, where a polite introduction is contradictorily followed by an immediate admonishment to shut up. A new, powerful musical assurance is plainly tangible.
17. BEAT ON THE BRAT
One of IT'S ALIVE's most glaring omissions, the live potential of this debut favorite is happily realized and documented, despite a few shaky moments from TOMMY.
BEAT ON THE BRAT
18. BLITZKRIEG BOP
Taken at what now seems like an almost sluggish tempo, the single "on SIRE records!" is met with a disconcerting lack of audience participation.
19. I REMEMBER YOU
Surprisingly early in the set, the band slows it down a notch. JOEY gives it his all in his featured, crooning highlight.
I REMEMBER YOU
20. GLAD TO SEE YOU GO
Ample evidence of the wealth of material the band still had on tap for their second release, this effortless go at the still unrecorded GLAD TO SEE YOU GO flies by flawlessly.
GLAD TO SEE YOU GO
The sturdy first lp "love song" proves dependable.
22. 53RD & 3RD
The pathos of DEEDEE's psychodrama are predictably milked, even at this early stage.
53RD & 3RD
23. I WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND
An astoundingly long pause before the group trots out this pleading favorite to all of the "special girls" out there. From here on out though, it's a Blitzkrieg all the way.
I WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND
24. HAVANA AFFAIR
They punch all the way through their "salsa" number with panache. Lamentably, over the years JOEY's inclination to crack non-sequiturs between songs diminished almost completely.
25. LISTEN TO MY HEART
Precision abounds in these performances, although later--as the live material is grouped into small bursts-- this song will be programmed into a spot which will flaunt the opening guitar figure more impressively.
LISTEN TO MY HEART
26. CALIFORNIA SUN
"Hot doggers, hang ten!", then blastoff into one of the band's most rehearsed covers. Along with I DON'T WANNA WALK AROUND WITH YOU, this appeared as the 45 b-side to I WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND in America and I REMEMBER YOU in the UK.
27. JUDY IS A PUNK
The set starts to hurtle towards the end aboard a barrage of debut album crushers, starting with JUDY IS A PUNK, whose odd key protrudes conspicuously.
JUDY IS A PUNK
28. I DON'T WANNA WALK AROUND WITH YOU
Pauses in between songs fade away, and DEEDEE dominates--thumping relentlessly on bass and grabbing all the glory of the final line of lyric, leaving him almost without breath for the next 1-2-3-4. In German, naturally.
I DON'T WANNA WALK AROUND WITH YOU
29. TODAY YOUR LOVE, TOMORROW THE WORLD
Only a slightly messy coda mars the set closer, which more than fulfills its role as designated explosive climax.
TODAY YOUR LOVE, TOMORROW THE WORLD
30. NOW I WANNA SNIFF SOME GLUE
The suddenly measurably increased tempos carry through to the encore, as unexpectedly TOMMY counts things off. Breathtaking.
NOW I WANNA SNIFF SOME GLUE
31. LET'S DANCE
What sounds like a shabby edit fails to cover up a rare opening error from perfectionist JOHNNY. Nonetheless, as the RAMONES feverishly finish the show, they have obliterated nearly any notion that their brutal minimalism could not be delivered with dazzling, potent cohesion.
Monday, September 9, 2013
BABYSITTER had been set aside as a probable 45 b-side, but after the CARBONA NOT GLUE panic heated up (see CARBONA NOT GLUE--Leave Home 5) this track was chosen to take its place for the new pressing. So sensibly it leads off the extras of this deluxe edition of LEAVE HOME. However, in 1977, it was in turn quickly replaced by the new single SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER, and unwisely that song has been omitted here in favor of less chronological inclusion on the expanded CD of ROCKET TO RUSSIA-- puzzlingly leaving this the only bonus studio recording in the present running order.
After two other decidedly wanting stabs at softer material for the second album, BABYSITTER represents not only a reassuring return to the quality of the debut's I WANNA BE YOUR BOYFRIEND, but also an impressive and cunning expansion of that track's key strengths. An even more melodic utilization of 1-4-5 drives the song, and a strikingly confident middle eight leads to a dazzling one step key change for the final verse and chorus. A bright, dense mix displays the extra layer of guitars and attractive background vocals to strong effect, and the tension maintained throughout the tune's push and pull dynamic shows determined control.
JOEY tackles the descriptively detailed lyric of the protagonist's frustrating scenario with a great sense of drama. But he also infuses the oft repeated title line with an innocence that feels more relative to the possible crush of the kids for their sitter, and this lends the vocal a surprising depth of empathy to all of the song's potential points of view simultaneously. Impatiently watching television, hoping to avoid interruption from eavesdroppers, intertwines with a sneaking longing, capped with a gratitude for the absence of the 'folks.'
Almost immediately replaced on fresh versions of the lp (perhaps wisely, as its presence made for an awkwardly ballad heavy sophomore platter), the song popped up again on the flip side of the DO YOU WANNA DANCE single. For years unavailable elsewhere (and, in fact, not even listed on the sleeve of the LEAVE HOMEs it appeared on) BABYSITTER built up credible steam as a cherished rarity, eventually being included on the Warner Bros compilation ATTACK OF THE KILLER Bs, an assortment of respected but difficult to acquire non-lp tracks by various artists. Of course, in the CD age this ready made bonus track ringer found a home on several releases, and wide audiences could finally assess and ingest this no-longer rare, early indicator of what over time had become obvious: the world's foremost punks were undeniable masters of the ballad form.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Interestingly, the RAMONES opted to wrap up LEAVE HOME with this track instead of PINHEAD-- a song bursting with obvious climactic potential-- which was left to conclude side 1 of the LP. They would execute a similar misstep on the upcoming ROCKET TO RUSSIA, closing the first side with WE'RE A HAPPY FAMILY, clearly a ready made closer. The eventual utilization of these two tracks at key payoff points in the band's live sets makes their misuse in the placement of these records' running order even more apparent. For the remainder of their studio career, the RAMONES would conspicuously strive to have albums end dramatically and powerfully, leaving (surprisingly) two of their early classic releases some of the only instances where this effective tactic was ignored.
One of the numbers sampled with the group's first batch of demos (see RAMONES' OTHER DEBUT ALBUM), YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE OPENED THAT DOOR represents one of their lesser efforts in the horror-themed realm. Despite some amusing genre imagery-- unfortunately primarily confined to the rather drab verse melody changes-- the song fails to completely achieve total liftoff. Notably, the new version features a slightly modified chord progression after the chorus, which makes this and SWALLOW MY PRIDE (see SWALLOW MY PRIDE Leave Home 9) two of the only early compositions displaying detectable, significant alteration in their arrangement before official recording. (A catchy background vocal refrain has also been helpfully added to the song's distinctive chorus melody-- perhaps the tune's most memorable hook.) The band has also mastered the oddly timed intro, which amusingly takes them more than one try to nail on the initial recording.
Although outwardly lacking only next to the RAMONES very best early material, the resultant closer still feels a tad under-realized, despite all around energetic performances. The flavor of the recurrent production maladies lingers as YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE OPENED THAT DOOR fades into the grooves. Still, as the 'open that door' chant closes the door on the LEAVE HOME LP, it's easy to look forward to the the next station the Rocket would be stopping at: No less than the RAMONES finest studio moment-- where every single track would indubitably bear the mark of 100%, full blooded construction, consideration and culmination.
RAMONES YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE OPENED THAT DOOR