Today, we continue our Sonic Reducer series! In the series, Punknews writers compress a band, genre, theme, or time period into a playlist that would fit on a single CD. Along with the playlist, you'll get either an overview of the topic, such as a band introduction, or a story about how the music in the playlist moved or changed the writer.
Today, Punknews writer Tom Trauma covers Ramones for Ramones Week!
Sonic Reducer: The Ramones!
The Ramones are the most important punk band of all time. Theyâ€™re also the most influential punk band of all time. The Ramones were not the first punk band. They might not even have been the best punk band. (Though I think it could easily be argued that they were.) Their first three albums were the template for almost all the punk that would follow. I wonâ€™t get into the Ramonesâ€™ history here. There are many wonderful books that cover their acrimonious life and times in tremendous detail. Any self-respecting punk rock fan should already have at least a decent working knowledge of the Ramones. If not, youâ€™d better getting reading and listening.
The one benefit of being the resident grumpy old man at punknews.org is that I was able to see some of the great bands (while the other staffers were still in diapers). I was lucky enough to experience the Ramones twice in the 90â€™s. Even nearly 20 years into their career, their live shows still packed a punch. If I could go back and watch any show again, it would be Ramones/Social Distortion at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI on November 4, 1992. I canâ€™t tell you how many hundreds of shows Iâ€™ve seen over the years, but none of their memories elicit the emotional response in me that this one does. Just thinking about it makes happy and sad, and ultimately leaves me feeling melancholy.
What follows are the songs I would request if I could raise Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy from the grave. I know Marky, CJ and Richie are still alive and kicking, so they could take their rightful place when appropriate. They might look a little old though, because my re-animated original Ramones are going to be in their mid-20â€™s prime. This is not any kind of definitive list, and it was very difficult to chop this down to an hour. These are mostly punk standards. Iâ€™ve loved these songs for as long as I can remember. You should learn them and love them too.
â€œI Wanna Be Sedatedâ€- This is the first Ramonesâ€™ song I can remember hearing. It would have been in 1986 or so, and it was played on a Milwaukee rock and roll radio station after midnight. I was mostly into hair metal at the time and it blew me away. From Road to Ruin, the first album with Marky on drums.
â€œBlitzkrieg Bopâ€- This is the first song on the first Ramones album. Has there ever been a better introduction to the world?
â€œBeat on the Bratâ€- If you have kids youâ€™ll understand. Every song on Ramones is a classic.
â€œI Wanna Be Your Boyfriendâ€- Still one of the finest punk ballads of all time.
â€œ53rd and 3rdâ€- The sad story of Dee Deeâ€™s life as a street hustler.
â€œGimme Gimme Shock Treatmentâ€- The first of many lighthearted songs about mental illness appeared on Leave Home.
â€œPinheadâ€- Inspired by the 1932 black and white cult horror classic Freaks. Ramones fans should definitely watch this film that features actual circus freaks.
â€œCommandoâ€- Dee Dee was an army brat, and it had a profound influence on his songwriting.
â€œCretin Hopâ€- Proving that making fun of the handicapped doesnâ€™t have to be mean spirited. Opening track on Rocket to Russia.
â€œSheena is a Punk Rockerâ€- I have two daughters, and suggested Sheena as a name both times. It didnâ€™t stick until we got our border collie.
â€œTeenage Lobotomyâ€- More fun with mental illness!
â€œRamonaâ€- I also suggested Ramona as a name for both my daughters.
â€œDanny Saysâ€- Ramonesâ€™ tribute to their manager Danny Fields. Thereâ€™s documentary about the man, also called Danny Says, coming soon. From the ill fated, Phil Spector produced End of the Century.
â€œRockâ€™nâ€™Roll High Schoolâ€- Title song from the funny for all the wrong reasons movie. Itâ€™s a cult classic and still worth watching. Fun fact: Cheap Trick was originally supposed to be the band in the film.
â€œThe KKK Took My Baby Awayâ€- Even the mediocre Ramones albums had at least one classic song. This one was from Pleasant Dreams.
â€œPsycho Therapyâ€- Another great song about mental illness. Also another great song from a mediocre album. This time it was Subterranean Jungle.
â€œToo Tough To Dieâ€- After a few failed attempts at mainstream success, Too Tough to Die was a punk return to form for the Ramones. The first record with Richie on drums.
â€œSomething to Believe Inâ€- A wimpy song from Animal Boy that I love. Joey had such a great voice for hopeful pop.
â€œI Wanna Liveâ€- This is just my favorite song from Halfway to Sanity.
â€œI Believe in Miraclesâ€- Brain Drain celebrated the return of Marky, but was also the last record for Dee Dee.
â€œPet Semataryâ€- My kids didnâ€™t grow up listening to Ramones lullabies. They grew up listening to the Ramones. This is one of the boysâ€™ favorites.
â€œPoison Heartâ€- Mondo Bizarro introduced the world to CJ. Another one of the boysâ€™ favorites.
â€œR.A.M.O.N.E.S.â€- Lemmy (RIP) wrote this about the Ramones. They liked it so much that they recorded for their farewell LP, Adios Amigos!. Features CJ on lead vocals.