HUMMING A SICKENING TUNE shall encompass a track by track review of the complete recorded works of THE RAMONES, giving consideration to each song's composition, recording and place in the overall arc of the band's career.
Side 2 of ROCKET TO RUSSIA bursts forth with a track which draws inspiration from the sub genre of 50s exploitation films whose plots correlated adolescent rites of passage with horrific monstrosity-- such as I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, TEENAGE ZOMBIE, and I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN. Having previously already covered shock treatments, this offering also sets out to explore & lampoon the only remaining institutional procedure with potentially more devastating effects to the mentally struggling patients being treated: the Lobotomy.
Kicking off with perhaps the most tribal & unusual of any of the RAMONES' classic drum intros, JOEY then follows, intoning a bizarre chant-- ludicrously blase, and dripping with studio effects. This triggers a dizzying trio of three chord blasts from DEEDEE & JOHNNY: the first is rooted in B, the second in A, the third in D. Though distinctively dissimilar, all three are 1-4-5 distortions, and the guitar and bass play in uncharacteristically non-divergent unison. It's another sharp, overachieving sequence, and only through the band's ever increasing dexterity does the illusion of effortlessness again appear to be cast.
The verses then commence on top of a surprisingly simple progression, which serves to accentuate the rushed complexity of the other sections once they return (note how the nearly identical verse of CRETIN HOP serves a similar, but less strikingly apparent function.) JOEY's execution of one of the bands most indisputably hilarious lyrics hits the perfect note of in-character humor, as he swings from slow-wittedly simplistic recitations of unmelodic phrasing to unexpectedly jubilant exhortations at the conclusion of each stanza. And although perhaps 'sophistication' wouldn't be quite the correct term to describe the flowering comedic touch on display here, knowing familiarity with stages of collegiate achievement, an above average grasp of anatomical terminology, and an awareness of ecologically dangerous chemical repercussions would all seem to undercut the group's affectations of unlearned idiocy. JOHN HOLMSTROM's grinningly demented rubber room caricature perfectly compliments the inspired lunacy of the proceedings.
One of ROCKET TO RUSSIA's superior mixes captures an electric, streamlined charge of sound-- certainly this song would have benefited little from LEAVE HOME's denser mix (perhaps only the overly dry percussion is a singular detriment). Add this to a group performance of exceptional exuberance, a composition full of impressively unique twists, and a lyric once again amusingly inverting and championing what previously might only have appeared nightmarishly depressing, and one relishes yet another unforgettable benchmark exemplifying the RAMONES' unmatchable allure.
RAMONES: HUMMING A SICKENING TUNE (and my related piece THE RAMONES' OTHER DEBUT ALBUM from BUNCOMBE SHINOLA) were recently featured in a article written by JOSH JONES about the the RAMONES' early demos for the online site OPEN CULTURE. The support and proper credit are SUPER appreciated!
HUMMING A SICKENING TUNE will be back soon with TEENAGE LOBOTOMY!