It is a great pleasure to print this review of the first ever album of this band. The reviewer was absolutely right for this band so they came out favourably in his critic. And so they should. Strange to think that these guys, with the exception of one, are all dead now. Thank you for all the fun!
Sons of Scuzz Hit Home Run in World Punk Series
RAMONES – The Ramones
(Sire – Import)
By Nick Kent
A week back, if you`d asked me nicely, I`d have dogmatically opined that “Ramones” – SASD 7520 was absolutely the most grievous hot rock sideswipe from the Nova Heat-Zone since the halycon grunge of “Raw Power”.
Well Seven days have elapsed and I`m bowing out on that high-minded slant, but that`s not to say that the initial allure has lessened any.
The Ramones – in case you`ve been vacationing in Thailand, or contracted leprosy in the last twelve months – are the punk cause celebre of the moment, the hands-down champ-eens of the New York New Wave “Blank Generation” sweep stakes. One Robert Christgau, N.Y.`s Dean of Rock Critics, has stated that the band make up “the most cleanly conceptualized New York rock show there is to see… the last time I caught them I walked home high,” while Circus magazine goes for the muscle angle by drawing attention to the band`s penchant for “all adrenaline chords at a terrific speed. The Ramones are out to relive the roots of rock by mauling them.”
Our own Charles Shaar Murray has probably got the best over-view of this scam though when he wrote in his “NME” run-down of the CBGB hoe-down: “They`re (the Ramones, natch) simultaneously so funny, such a cartoon vision of rock `n` roll, and so genuinely tight and powerful, that they`re just bound to enchant anyone who fell in love with rock and roll for the right reasons.”
The cartoon schtick is what it all boils down to ultimately, and as such, the Ramones, even more than Kiss, are the real inheritors to the Archies dubious mantle. They`re perverse as hell, see. Their corporate taste for violence – for example “Beat on the brat- /with a baseball bat”… “You`re a loudmouth baby /I`m goin` to beat you up”… not to mention their paeans to ritual murder like “Texas Chain Saw Massacre/Took my baby away from me,” and the portrait of a Vietnam veteran – turned depraved Broadway hustler on “51st and 3rd” – is bonafide sicko fare because it`s always rendered with this bizarre looney-toons cutesy-pie macho attitude, a sort of “Whap! Bop! Take that, you scamp” bluster (not to mention that these guys couldn`t punch their way out of a paper-bag). Which is fun, sure, but then you start thinking just where the hell are these guys coming from.
The musical influences are easy enough to divine. Classic punk is the meal ticket here – early Stooges retard-bop (“1969” and all that), plus a healthy surfeit of commercial Anglo rock-pop – the Sweet of “Little Willie” times, plus Gary U.S. Bonds` crass repetition filtered through the Glitter are called to mind. From these archetypes, the band go on to fashion a sound so monomaniacally insistent, so diamond hard punkish that this record poses a direct threat to any vaguely sensitive woofer and/or tweeter lodged in your hi-fi.
I was around, see, when they were cutting the final mix of this album and actually witnessed the interesting phenomenon of one of Sire Records` house system being literally shot to shit (the tweeters were blown clear across the room after three numbers) due to producer Craig Leon`s attempt to wedge up the guitar sound well over even the red (for danger, dig) zone. How Leon and the band actually succeeded in retaining such a ragged full-throttle sound without further mass-carriage will doubtlessly be rendered instant rock history in the weeks to come.
The coup, though, is quite masterful. I`ve rarely heard a tougher, more invigorating guitar sound on record – it makes Jimmy Page`s sound on “Presence” sound positively weedy by comparison. But there it is, blaring out with such fearsome majesty that it runs most other punk artifacts ragged in terms of sheer “young” belligerence.
My angle on this opus then: simply “Ramones” is an object lesson in how to successfully record neanderthal hardrock.
The band itself is hard, tight and extremely limited – the repertoire calls for a constant re-run of (usually) three chord-changes, no solos, and nothing over two and a half minutes in length. Drums and bass muscle in behind the guitar (which maintains a sound like a sulphuric acid tab zig-zagging across a bucket of pitch), forming a fermenting back-drop for the singer to intone lyrics – every last syllable of which relate to the band`s corporate cartoon cut-out over view of Noo Yawk Scuzz, dumb chicks, romance (spelt “b-u-u-h-v” in these punks` dictionary) and boredom – in a voice possessing an angloid-hyper-thyroid proximity to Rob Tyner`s classic mid-register vocals for MC5 records.
As a “punk” artifact, it separates the men from the boys. If You love hard-ass retard rock, you`ll bathe in every groove. If you pride yourself on being a sensitive human-being, this record will gag on you like a gatorade and vermouth fireball.
Even punk dillitantes may find the album `in toto` something of an endurance test. There are 14 tracks here, see – averaging out to two minutes each in length – minimal variety natch – and it just seems to get faster and louder until the very end with “Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World”, when some speakers can be heard going through premature squeals just before they crank off and slip the audio-mortal coil for good n` all.
Whether this pertains to the slightly wearing nature of the 14-track bam-balam on show here I wouldn`t know, but right now find the best moments on this record to be lodged on Side One. “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Beat on the Brat”, and “Judy is a Punk”, the opening forays, are true golden moments.
Indeed, basic punk rock hasn`t sounded this good since disco-death-rot music set in and started calling the shots on your gams.
Most rock`n`roll being amped out these days is so damn synthetic anyway – heavy-metal has recently reached an all-time nadir in audio-corrosion, and the real big-timers like the Stones are too far gone on achieving “blacknuss” by vamping on reggae `n` stuff (instant ungodly death to white reggae, by the way. Vinyl should be so designed to instantly disintegrate when it next registers the sound of some L.A. session – drummer trying to maintain an `on beat`).
All of which means – we need the likes of the Ramones to re-acquaint us loser white-kids with our roots more than ever.
Also, I`ve got this feeling, see, that this album`s going to take off. It`s crazy, perverse, and exciting enough to maybe even bridge both A.M. and F.M. airplay in the States, in which case the Ramones really could shut down the horrendous likes of Kiss and their garish ilk. Young girls will doubtless find `em cute, the leathers and plimsolls look is hip n` stripped down enough to be aped by whole battalions of culturally deprived American youths, and the music is aggressively “blank” enough to relate to all disorientated teenage parties.
The “Punk rock” movement of the early `70s was something of a damp squib, in that it never made any real identation on the national rock front as upheld by the likes of “Cashbox” and “Billboard”.
Now, some three years later, after the New York Doll`s pratfall, after the likes of Iggy and Jonathan Richmond have been rejected for being the real rock visionaries they are, the coast may be clear for the new wave punks.
The Ramones don`t say much. They`re pretty vacant. But they rock out with a vengeance. And anyway the Archies were never hip to sniffing glue or making out to the dance of romance.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Genesis, Ian Hunter, Erich Von Daniken, Eric Carmen, Elton John, Nils Lofgren, Stanley Clarke.
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