photo & text by nacrowe
my dad is from NEW YORK CITY and growing up in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA i was schooled and made well aware from a young age about all things RAMONES. in fact i cant remember a time when "BEAT ON THE BRAT" wasnt jokingly brought up throughout my childhood when my brother and i misbehaved. again i should stress, it was jokingly evoked.
what i love about the RAMONES and their debut record RAMONES (SIRE, 1976) is their humor as well as ability to cut straightaway to the heart of the matter. no extended drum breaks, extraneous guitar solos or superfluous filler, this record is all killer. obvious highlights include the aforementioned "BEAT ON THE BRAT" as well as "53RD & 3RD," "JUDY IS A PUNK," "I DON'T WANNA GO DOWN TO THE BASEMENT," "HAVANA AFFAIR" and, of course, "BLITZKRIEG BOP." the RAMONES' formula is so simple that it is difficult to grasp at times how revolutionary it was in the late 1970s when PROG ROCK was at its zenith and to be a musician still had something to do with knowing theory, charts and scales. the RAMONES essentially wiped those notions to the side and made the creative intent the paramount ingredient in discerning what constitutes modern ROCK N ROLL. they were a paradigm shift because countless musicians looked at JOHNNY RAMONE's guitar playing on thought (wrongly), yeah, i can do that.
what i love most about the RAMONES record and the band in general is JOEY RAMONE. out of all the classic ROCK N ROLL frontman, he was always the one i personally identified with the most. their was an understated confidence that transcended his gawky and gangly demeanor. he represented to me someone who understood that he didnt meet the jock expectations of society and decided to succeed anyway, with a sense of humor intact. and people forget how dark some of these songs are, whether they are DEE DEE RAMONE-penned lyrics about turning tricks around TIMES SQUARE or not wanting to go down to the cellar for fear of abuse (presumably by one's parents). what made them work was JOEY's completely believable and seemingly authentic everyman persona. what a talent.
obviously the RAMONES' debut is something that should be heard by everyone. it was one of the first PUNK ROCK records and its influence both stateside and in the UNITED KINGDOM cannot be overstated. it is a touchstone influence for not only all PUNK ROCK that followed but seemingly every iteration of ROCK N ROLL that came after.
it is most definitely required listening and has remained a consistent spring of joy since childhood. definitely seek it out and give it another listen.