When four geeky boys from Queens stepped onstage for the first time in March 1974, they detonated a barrage of two-minute, three-chord fireballs from which we are
still feeling the fallout. The revolution Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy started by combining ’60s girl group melodies with the primal propulsion of bare-bones rock’n’roll
decimated bloated prog rock, and the image they created proved as indelible as their [I]”One-two-three-four – Hey, ho, let’s go!”[/I] rallying cry. Without the Ramones, there would be no punk rock.
The Ramones’ first four albums – recorded between February 1976 and autumn 1977 – stand together as the most toweringly aggressive, misleadingly primitive, perfectly phrased musical statement ever made. Here they forged the formula for their 22-year career: the black humour (‘Beat On The Brat’, ‘Teenage Lobotomy’), the deftly handled covers (‘Needles And Pins’, ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’), the kitsch-tender love songs (‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’, ‘I Remember You’) and, of course, that trademark spasmodic wall of sound.
Despite being arguably the most influential band [I]ever[/I], the Ramones were never welcomed into the mainstream. Possibly because they looked like a pack of demented weasels and liked to write songs about mental illness and Nazis. In a perverse alternate universe, however, every single one of their songs was a surefire Number One smash. ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ (a punk-surf-pop crossover that has never been rivalled), ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (inspired by nothing less than Bay City Rollers’ ‘Saturday Night’) and ‘I Want To Be Sedated’ were exemplary pop songs, born as much from a love of bubblegum AM tunes as a hatred of guitar solos. The Ramones were frustrated outsiders, consummate comedians and – revelation! – sophisticated songwriters. The demos and alternate versions included here demonstrate how finely honed every gangly gesture was from the very beginning.
For a band for
whom there was no such thing as too little, there’s no such thing as too much. Within these songs
is the very essence