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
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
"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.
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 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.
"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