Lace those sneakers and zip up your MC jacket and set the volume to louder than loud because today my legions we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the very first Ramones album, an eponymously titled LP, cassette and 8-track tape called “Ramones”. It’s almost hard to believe that the Punk Rock sound pretty much began with these four guys from Queens but as a NYC resident I have to say that it’s pretty awesome to know that such music is a Big Apple property. Now before going any deeper into this reflection I have to say that while I have been a Ramones fan for AT LEAST thirty-six years, my learnings about them began with their fifth album “End Of The Century” and from there I went backwards to open my young musical mind to the beginnings. I knew some tracks from the release when I began my own exploration because by that time in my history a whole lot or Ramones tunes were on the radio. Considering I was just almost 11 when “Ramones” was released to the general masses, I can honestly admit that my parents were NOT playing me Punk Rock music at the time nor owned a copy of this now historic release. Truth be told there was not truly a title for the format until this album had some shelf life. The Ramones formed back in 1974 after having met at Forest Hills High School and the original lineup consisted of Joey Ramone, Johnny Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone and Tommy Ramone. “Ramones” was a stage identity and the member’s real names in order were Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi. Sadly, all of the original members have passed away with Joey being the first back in 2001, Dee Dee 2002, Johnny 2004 and the last with Tommy in 2014. At least the band got into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002 and it amazes me that the institution was actually timely about something.
Below is an image of my original Ramones “Ramones” album and while it was not from the first released crop as I bought it a few years later, I still have my copy. Looking at the iconic image does make me feel like its missing something though. What do you think?
As with all of these milestones, I leave the deep research and discovery up to you since it’s all been so well documented on the bands official Wikipedia entry for the album being discussed and these are my own personal reflections on the body of work. “Ramones” is a fast and furious release and I remember that when I finally did own a copy of it, I was a little distraught that it was only 29 minutes in length. It must have been a shock to the senses for the music listeners of the day since this was a time when Disco was still riding high and that was only going to get worse once the “Saturday Night Fever” film release of 1977. Visually speaking the Ramones looked like hoodlums with their ragged denim jeans and black motorcycle jackets and the music that we first received on this debut was an assault to the airwaves. The guitars were loud and the drums fast and furious and while only 29 minutes long, the release had 13 songs. Let’s take a little glance at the original album tracks and then I will speak to my favorites.
1. Blitzkrieg Bop
2. Beat On The Brat
3. Judy Is A Punk
4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
5. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
6. I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement
8. Havana Affair
9. Listen To My Heart
10. 53rd & 3rd
11. Let’s Dance
12. I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You
13. Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World
There we go. That is a lot better in my opinion don’t you agree? No need to answer because I know you do.
Looking over the full tracks on the album its without question that my absolute favorite on the release comes care of the seminal “Blitzkrieg Bop”; The song has been heard pretty much everywhere since its debut from garage bands to cover bands to sporting and concert events at arenas worldwide. It’s an anthem for sure. “Beat On The Brat” is a classic and so is “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” but I don’t recommend that you beat on anyone out there today with a bat or even give a try to sniffing glue. Dee Dee maintained in interviews that the band didn’t sniff glue but that he had tried this as a young child. It was something that spoke to the boredom of youth in terms of a song. I loved the simplicity of “Judy Is A Punk” and the tune really only had two different verses which made it a perfect track for a cover band if you had one. The slower almost ballad vibe of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” showed a very different side of the Ramones and honestly it worked as a nice change in the dynamic of what they were dishing out. My other favorites fall to the cover tune “Let’s Dance” and the closing “Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World” but I did enjoy the rest of the stuff but not as much as these mentioned. What were your favorites from the album? No rush right now, let’s do that later.
When I had finally gotten my copy of “Ramones” I was actively pursuing a drumming passion and one of the main things that sold the Ramones to me was the relative simplicity of the drumming style. It was solid but since it was so much four on the floor it could be learned even by a beginner. It did take time to master the level of speed being showcased by Tommy. At one point in my life I even had a Ramones cover act and we knew about 80 of their songs. It wasn’t a tribute band since we didn’t aim to look like them but it was a whole lot of fun during its short existence. I tried to play like that in the leather jacket and couldn’t believe how hard it was to do. The post gig beers were like mother’s milk after that for sure. Historically speaking this was not a high charting album but that shouldn’t be a surprise since it was rather jolting for its time. It only took about a week to make and cost under $7K and the cover art you see depicted would be something that Rock and Roll bands would imitate until this very day.
I’ve been blasting the album all through the time that I have been typing up this Music Milestone for you and now it’s time for you to let me know what this particular work meant to you and how it might have impacted your own interest in music. Perhaps you saw the Ramones in concert way back in the beginning or have been a longer tenured acolyte to their tunes. Let me know in the comments below and I’ll see you next time.
As is historically referenced, the members of the Ramones first met at Forest Hills High School in Forest Hills, Queens NY. During the Easter holiday I asked my cousin to take a ride there with me so I could get some images to be used in this narrative. This is the original Rock and Roll High School my friends. It’s not the one that you see in the movie however.
How could I resist getting a snap of myself in front of where four such musicians would meet and eventually introduce a new genre of music.
Dust off your leather and get yourself to Queens, NY if at all possible to enjoy the “Hey Ho Let’s Go: Ramones and The Birth Of Punk” exhibit that was discussed on THIS LINK. You have until July if you live in the area or accessible surrounding regions. I still have to go and will be documenting the findings for our faraway readers as soon as time permits.
The original release on CD is available for super cheap as you can see below and this is the remastered edition from 2001 that has about nine additional tracks on it. I’ve also embedded a link to the upcoming 40th Anniversary edition which comes out in July, so perhaps the link allows for some pre-ordering. Last but not least is the superb new book about the Ramones by noted music scribe Martin Popoff.