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Ramones - Animal Boy (Cover Artwork)

Ramones

Ramones: Animal BoyAnimal Boy (1986)
Ramones

Reviewer Rating: 2
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Contributed by: darnyellerdarnyeller
(others by this writer | submit your own)

1986 will go down in the annals of music history as one of its worst years ever. "Artificial," "pre-packaged," "innocuous" -- these are all adjectives which accurately describe three-quarters of the albums released that year. Even bands who had previously demonstrated innovation and integrity corrup.
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1986 will go down in the annals of music history as one of its worst years ever. "Artificial," "pre-packaged," "innocuous" -- these are all adjectives which accurately describe three-quarters of the albums released that year. Even bands who had previously demonstrated innovation and integrity corrupted their sound and sold their guitars to join the synthesizer revolution, or devolution. What did we expect of the Ramones? To make a generic synth-pop album?

Hey, you got it! Animal Boy is a generic synth-pop album! At least, in parts. But it's far from the worst I've ever heard.

After the minor resurgence of the Ramones with Too Tough to Die, the band decided to leave behind co-producers Ed Stasium and Tommy Erdelyi (original drummer Tommy Ramone). The production of Animal Boy was entrusted to ex-Plasmatics bass player Jean Beauvoir after he produced the album's first single, "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg." The problem with that single applies to the album as a whole: electronics, in the form of echo (on both the metallized guitars and the robotized drums) and cheesy keyboards, is everywhere on here. Yet the synthesizer onslaught did happen to coincide with the band's desire to get back to their roots, and I can't say overproduction spoils the record a whole lot. It does spoil the very last song, their parody of Michael Jackson's "We Are the World" campaign -- their 'universal anthem' "Something to Believe In" -- although you really wouldn't know it for a parody if it weren't for the controversial video that accompanied it. Without the video, the song is little more than a pretentious throwaway, made even worse by the fact that it's the Ramones, of all people, who are displaying pretentiousness.

Another point of contention is how little Joey contributes to the proceedings. He's got only two songs here, one of which ("Hair of the Dog") doesn't register anywhere for a hundred miles in sight. The other one, "Mental Hell," however, is exceptional -- perhaps the one true classic off this record. Its three-note riff is recycled as usual, but by 1986, I've really lost count, so I could care less. The fact is, the riff is angry and edgy, and Joey's "I'm not feeling very well, I'm not feeling very well" shakes across the room in such a manner that you actually start to wonder if he really was feeling very well, which I seriously doubt. The song's frantic conclusion -- "Mental! HELL MENTAL! HELL MENTAL! HELL!" -- should be paid serious attention. It's arguably the wildest, most desperate yell of paranoia that Joey has ever let out so far, and considering the fact that it was he -- the good-natured goof of the band -- who wrote that song, well, it both scares and impresses me.

On the downside, Dee Dee is still playing the fool with his hardcore send-ups: "Eat That Rat" is every bit as moronic and unlistenable as "Wart Hog," except that Dee Dee slows down the speed of his vocal delivery to let us hear the political message of the song: "You wanna play a game of cat and mouse / With the president in the White House." Not much better is the title track, which at least rolls along at a reasonable pace and allows Johnny to play something vaguely resembling a riff consisting of more than one chord. The Ramones rarely need more than three chords, but they always need more than one. The Ramones on one chord is as much of a ridiculous thing as the Ramones on fifteen chords.

Besides this, there's not much to add. Richie Ramone contributes a song called "Somebody Put Something in My Drink" (supposedly based on his experience of consuming a cocktail spiked with LSD), and it meshes with the band's spirit -- although musically it is more of a metallic Judas Priest-style anthem. Then again, who really cares? If the Ramones want to play some heavy metal on their album, I won't protest as long as it does what good heavy metal is supposed to do. Does it? Well, the vocal melody is catchy and an emotional flow is present. Let's not forget, actually, that the Ramones were primarily recognized for their vocal hooks; personally, I ceased paying major attention to whatever Johnny was playing after Road to Ruin. All that's necessary is that there be more than one chord present.

While nowhere near as bad as the triumvirate of tripe that would follow, this album's lack of an organic sound quality hinders it in the long run. In all honesty, it's a chore to get through Animal Boy in one sitting -- and we're talking about a 31-minute record. While passable when enjoyed in small, scattered doses, Animal Boy is best left locked in its cage. Or case.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Ramones - Rocket to RussiaRamones - Halfway to SanityThe Replacements - StinkRamones - RamonesSex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Hereā??s the Sex PistolsRamones - Leave HomeRamones - End of the CenturyRamones - Too Tough to DieD.I. - Horse Bites Dog CriesDead Kennedys - In God We Trust Inc. EP

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
lovechuck (May 28, 2010)

this album rocks i love it ....the ramones rock on this one ...love kills

lovechuck (May 28, 2010)

this album rocks i love it ....the ramones rock on this one ...love kills

housewrecker (October 2, 2007)

Bonzo goes to Bitburg is one of the best Ramones songs ever. And I thought Something to Believe was still a great pop song regardless of whether the Ramones wrote it or Michael Jackson. I'm proud to admit that I went through a period where I was really into this whole record.

bxbomber (September 30, 2007)

According to this reviewers myspace, she likes Godsmack.

DrGunn (September 30, 2007)

it's true, prindle is a genius.

JerryCola (September 30, 2007)

Mark Prindle reviews are always a great read, his interviews can't be beat either.

branden (September 30, 2007)

http://www.markprindle.com/ramonesa.htm#animal

somebody oughta just submit mark prindle reviews for the rest of the ramones albums. i love that dude.

pretentiouslikepitchfork (September 29, 2007)

anytime

niveK82 (September 29, 2007)

Posted by pretentious like pitchfork on 2007-09-28 21:20:54

this album really isn't very good...just because it's the ramones doesn't mean it should automatically receive a pass, which seems to be the expectation around these parts.


Thanks for the well needed laugh

lazylane (September 29, 2007)

"'Artificial,' 'pre-packaged,' 'innocuous' -- these are all adjectives which accurately describe three-quarters of the albums released that year"
I miss the days when stats meant something of quanitative value and weren't just made up.

facetofacereunion08 (September 29, 2007)

no "rocket to russia" review yet?

MonkeyFracas (September 29, 2007)

What kind of monster claims to be a Ramones fan but doesn't like Bonzo goes to Bitburg?

Ghost_of_D_Boon (September 28, 2007)

One of the band's most underrated albums. "Something To Believe In" and "She Belongs To Me" should have been hits for them.

pretentiouslikepitchfork (September 28, 2007)

this album really isn't very good...just because it's the ramones doesn't mean it should automatically receive a pass, which seems to be the expectation around these parts.

branden (September 28, 2007)

i didnt even read this review cause i saw it was this loser again.

pricey123 (September 28, 2007)

'on the road with the ramones' was a pretty good book too

pricey123 (September 28, 2007)

bonzo is one of my favorite ramones tracks! Score is for that song

JerryCola (September 28, 2007)

Something is telling me though that this is some sort of joke that someone thought would be funny & find very amusing seeing everyone get so pissed off.

fallingupwards84 (September 28, 2007)

hopefully the staff will allow someone else to review some of the latter-day Ramones albums to prevent this douche from giving everything post-1979 one or two stars.
i think im gonna write an End of the Century review.. i know its earlier, but its still seen as the turning point for the band, ushering in their 80s material

JerryCola (September 28, 2007)

These reviews are pretty good, you guys need to focus your bitching in better places.

I think the reason the review was written was to just dismantle and destroy the album and to further some asshole critic stereotypical viewpoint that anything after Road To Ruin sucks and isn't worth listening to.

I think there are a far lot more redeeming qualities to this album than the reviewer gives it credit for but I donā??t think the reviewers intentions were to look at the album fairly and it seems to me that any other post-Road To Ruin Ramones album that this reviewer writes is going to look a lot like this one and his review for Halfway To Sanity.

fallingupwards84 (September 28, 2007)

goddammit stop this fucking kid from using punknews as his forum for Ramones hate

fuck this guy, score is for the reviewer

TheOneTrueBill (September 28, 2007)

Alright, are you trying to infuriate me? This album is in the top three of the post-1978 Ramones discography.

There are tons of classic songs on this album. The only song that's not good is "She Belongs to Me." You only give passing mention to Bonzo, which is well established to be one of the best songs they ever wrote. "Animal Boy" is the best of the hardcore speed songs the band ever wrote, and "Something To Believe In" is completely chilling, even with the synths. "Crummy Stuff" only has keys in the begining, then goes into one of the most classic three chord pop songs they ever wrote. Try not having "Apeman Hop" or "Love Kills" stuck in your head for days after listening to this album.

You are so far off the mark about this album it hurts.

inagreendase (September 28, 2007)

These reviews are pretty good, you guys need to focus your bitching in better places. Complain more about my 7s or something.

DrGunn (September 28, 2007)

great albums (or at least very good) from '86:
bad brains - i against i
beastie boys - licensed to ill
big black - atomizer
dag nasty - can i say
descendents - enjoy!
husker du - candy apple grey
iron maiden - somewhere in time
megadeth - peace sells...but who's buying?
metallica - master of puppets
nick cave & the bad seeds - your funeral, my trial
paul simon - graceland
slayer - reign in blood
the smiths - the queen is dead
sonic youth - evol
youth of today - break down the walls

obviously there was also lots of lame, pre-packaged stuff, but i think that's true at virtually any time in popular music.

youwinalemon (September 28, 2007)

The Queen Is Dead came out in '86, so I'm cool with it.

Bort138 (September 28, 2007)

Enough with the crappy Ramones album reviews!

JerryCola (September 28, 2007)

Are you trying to get a job at pitchfork?

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