It has been said that it’s a shame hard rock fans never truly accepted The Ramones. Indeed, the majority of heavy rock connisseurs who’ve felt no pangs at embracing the minimalist, solo-less crunch of Korn and Rage Against The Machine, who rely on the same wall of high-volume sound as the Ramones did, shun the New York foursome. Ramones fans have been passed off as punk rockers only.
I’ve always felt this was a bit unfair as The Ramones didn’t scream and holler about anarchy in the same vein as The Sex Pistols or The Dead Kennedys did. The Ramones wrote about girls, hanging out at the beach, cars and drugs. Blink 182 and Green Day have done as much. Hell, even Billy Joel wrote about these same things.
Johnny Ramone’s guitar never screeched, but it sure did growl. It had bite, backed up by Dee Dee’s buzzing bass and Tommy’s drums, which never missed a beat. Topping it all off was Joey’s unique pseudo-British vocals, a linguistic tour de force that was to be reckoned with. You could always tell these guys apart from the rest of the crowd.
As post-modern architects of loud, fast, no-nonsense rock’n’roll – the way rock’n’roll is supposed to be – The Ramones were and still, in an unsettling posthumous way, are a joy to listen to.
As good as their studio work was, their true spirit and flourish lies in their live recordings. Live, January 7, 1978 At The Palladium, NYC is the honest way to hear this band. “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment,” “Commando,” “California Sun,” and “We’re A Happy Family” all capture the consciousness of the bona fide rock-and-roller. These guys were Andy Warohl-styled Elvis and The Beatles rolled into one satisfying musical doobie.
The band’s sense of humor shines through in such declarations as, “Well, after five years in the institution, now I wanna be a good boy!” Tell me how this differs, in terms of witty cynicism, from “They rally ’round the family with a pocket full of shells,” or “Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby!”
The Ramones expressed things their own way, which is what the best rock music is all about. I urge any serious rock fan to at least possess Live, January 7, 1978 At The Palladium, NYC in their collection. If you have no stomach for the “polish” of The Ramones’ studio albums, you deserve the chance to hear their live stuff. But, please forget It’s Alive!
This is the one live Ramones album you need.