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Ramones - Ramones

The self-titled debut album from the Ramones, released in April of 1976, incited a riotous new beginning for Rock music. "Ramones" is the first definitive Punk Rock album released anywhere in the world. Although the initial undertones of Punk preceded the "Ramones" album; the sound of what "Punk" is, was never established until it's release. Anyone who listens to this album will immediately understand how "Punk" should sound. Punk is loud, fast, and incautiously intrusive.

The album opens with a unified tri-blast of instruments for the appropriately fast "Blitzkrieg Bop" song. I don't know what the hell this song is supposed to be about, but after four seconds of listening, I am certainly revved up and ready to go. "Blitzkrieg Bop" serves as the album's opening track, the Ramones's first released single, and Punk's perfect precedent. Whenever I hear Joey Ramone shout out "Hey Ho, Let's Go!", my fist is inclined to thrust skyward on each syllable. After this stimulating song concludes, it's followup, "Beat on the Brat", barely expands Punk's auditorial boundries.

"Beat on the Brat" is lyrically an apostatic follow-up to the catchy light-hearted tunes of "Blitzkrieg Bop". Without providing much lyrical material, this second track paints an image of violent child disciplinary practice. "Beat on the Brat" is perhaps a glimpse into Joey Ramone's upbringing, or someone whom he associated with. The song's unenthusiastic sound compliments it's subject of semi-apathetical parenting methods. Joey, who is singing from the perspective of the brat's parents, hardly voices emotion when hymning the parents' unexplained justification of their actions. For such a lyrically simple song, I was not expecting to find this level of depth beating within. More likely the case, however, my imagination ran rampant and over-analyzed it's meaning.

Ramones at Toronto, 1976
Meet The Ramones!

Indeed, it is quite a challenge to decipher the meaning or motivation behind the creation of these songs. I wasn't sure whether additional research of the Ramones band and the songs' lyrics were needed to fully understand this album. Oddly enough, I found an answer within the third track, titled "Judy is a Punk". After listening and reading through the song's lyrics, the meaning behind the entire album became apparent. "Judy is a Punk" is about two fans, Jackie and Judy, that the Ramones knew personally. Like "Judy is a Punk", the personal experiences and memories of the Ramones are embedded within every song on this album. Each of the thirteen ("Lets Dance" is a cover of Chris Montez) Ramones written songs share some degree of intimacy with the members' personal experiences and memories. This brings me to the conclusion regarding the albums lryics; unless I am one of the original Ramones, I will never know the meaning of these songs.

When it comes to understanding this album there is a Ramones song that perfectly represents my thoughts regarding it, "I Don't Care". I don't care about this album's lyrics. And I don't care to seek further meaning about this album beyond it's easily understood simplicity of composition and sound. The Ramones were tired of the overly complex nature that Rock music had taken in the 70s. The "Ramones" album, and the follow-up sounds of Punk, borrow from the same simple and catchy tunes of the 50s and early 60s. The Ramones captured the essence of what made those older tunes fun, and repackaged it into a faster, louder, and incautiously intrusive sound. Songs like "Judy is a Punk", "Havana Affair", and "53rd & 3rd" are prime examples of this 50s and 60s influence.

The Ramones
The Ramones practiced hard to ensure high sound quality in their albums, and performances.

Aside from the opening track, the album's sound never hits that WOW facter when listening to it from start to finish. The simplicity of it's design doesn't warrant such a thing. Instead, the album offers the listener with instantaneous entertainment. Unlike other, more complex albums, "Ramones" is completely void of a listener adjustment period. The listener never has to familiarize themselves to the album's sound before they can truely appreciate it. As a result, any of the album's songs would fit comfortably within any randomized music playlist. "Let's Dance", a cover that improved upon the originial, would work well in today's club environment. However, listening to the album from start to finish could overdose the listener with early-Ramones monotomy.

When it comes to comparing this album with other similar releases in the past, there is very little material to work with. As mentioned above, "Ramones" is the first truely and completely Punk Rock album. The closest comparison that could be made with this album is the Stooges "Raw Power" album, which was released in 1973. "Ramones" sacrifices the raw emotion and crude sounds advocated within "Raw Power" in favor of simplicity, speed, structure, and timbre. Just from listening to these two albums, it is clear that "Ramones" had a very specific and focused sound to convey. Conversely, the sound of "Raw Power" was unconstrained and widely varied. It is difficult to make a direct influential connection between "Raw Power" and "Ramones", because of how differing their styles are. This differentiation enhances the "Ramones" album to it's present day legendary pioneer status.

Final Thoughts...


"Ramones" is an album that I would recommend to everyone, regardless of their age or culture. For those interested in Punk Rock, "Ramones" is perhaps the best starting point to an engrossing genre of music. In addition, each of the 14 songs have the longevity to survive your active music rotation, indefinitely (when randomized). However, the lack of compositional variation does leave something to be desired. Thankfully, "Ramones" is just the starting point to the band's legendary career. A career where each follow-up album showcases their ability to define, perfect, adapt, and evolve through tenacity and toughness.

Review Scoring System: Up to 11
Loud10 out of 11
Fast10 out of 11
Incautiously Intrusive10 out of 11
Overall:Cranked to 10 out of 11
Potential Achieved90.909%
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