While most agree the Ramones’ astonishing first album – which roared through the competition like a 747 in a paper airplane contest – is their most important album, it isn’t my favorite. My favorite is one of the band’s most eccentric, produced by the enigmatic pop icon Phil Spector, and the album that explicitly acknowledged such a thing as “pop punk” for the first time, End of the Century.
Recorded in ’79, the album made explicit the connection between early-’60s pop rock and the punk band’s psyche, and holds up as both a Ramones and a Spector classic: Spector’s idiosyncrasies never overwhelm the roar of “Chinese Rock” or “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,” and the Spectorish “Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio” rollicks with just the right retro touches. The band’s remake of the Ronette’s “Baby I Love You” is as touching as it is fun, and shed a whole new light on singer Joey Ramone. I sure do miss that guy.