Sunday, 19 March 2017

Ramones: Hey Ho let's go

It's 1976 and the latest craze is disco music, while the rock mega-stars of recent years are finding themselves increasingly out of touch with the youth they once represented - In the UK saccharine music from the likes of Abba and Brotherhood of Man were dominating the charts, and there was something of a rock and roll revival with the likes of Showaddywaddy scoring multiple chart hits. Looking back at the acts that were shifting vinyl by the ton it is incredible to think that we were on the cusp of a music revolution that would rival the birth of rock and roll in both its intensity and cultural shift.

It was across the pond in American, the birthplace of Rock and Roll, that a band called The Ramones took several steps back to basic three chord rock and roll and somehow hurled themselves forwards to define the way music was going to go.

The self titled debut album was recorded in just seven days at a budget of not much over six thousand US bucks, the sound was primitive and yet incredible fresh and yes this album more than any other can be pinpointed as the birth of punk rock. This is high octane music with basic chord structures that any novice could play and lyrics delivered by Joey Ramone in a cod-English accent and dealing with violence, drug abuse and that old chestnut, teenage love. I wanna be your Boyfriend, the fourth track on the first side, is absolutely gorgeous.

'Beat on the Brat
Beat on the Brat
Beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah' 

Goes the simple lyric of a track entitled suitably enough, Beat on the Brat and that's as far as the lyics go but the track is delivered with a humorous bend and a driving almost subdued back-beat.

"When I lived in Birchwood Towers in Forest Hills with my mom and brother. It was a middle-class neighborhood, with a lot of rich, snotty women who had horrible spoiled brat kids. There was a playground with women sitting around and a kid screaming, a spoiled, horrible kid just running around rampant with no discipline whatsoever. The kind of kid you just want to kill. You know, 'beat on the brat with a baseball bat' just came out. I just wanted to kill him."
—Joey Ramone on "Beat on the Brat."

The album came packaged in a stark black and white photograph of the band leaning against a wall - a simple enough concept but this has become one of the most copies album covers in history. The album too, whilst not initially a commercial success has become a recognised classic, an album of true importance and one that regularly features in the top ten of the best albums ever recorded. In fact in my opinion it is the best punk album ever recorded -  It marks the ascension  of one of the fundamental artists of the last century. It is without any doubt one of the most skillfully executed and conceptually original recorded works of all time.

'I'd a shock trooper in a stupor
Yes, I am
I'm a Nazi Schatze
Y'know I fight for the Fatherland'

Without The Ramones there would have been no Sex Pistols and although the Ramones may have not been the first truly punk band, they were the most important in terms of cultural revolution.

A stunning album that deserves a place in every collection.