Ramones - Ramones Mania (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Ramones Mania (1988)

Sire Records

Ramones Mania is the greatest greatest hits collection ever assembled. Other compilations have sold more copies (Their Greatest Hits (1971—1975) by the Eagles has gone platinum so many times that the numbers no longer matter).Granted, none of the songs collected actually dominated the charts. But for a band without any hit singles, the Ramones always really were a singles band, not so secretly students of top 40 bubblegum pop. Boasting 30 unfuckwithable songs on a single CD, it makes complete sense that Mania would be the Ramones' first (and until 2014, when their debut was finally certified, only) gold record. Modestly priced given its content, this the best possible entryway to the Ramones.

Besides maybe Buzzcocks' Singles Going Steady, Mania has to be the most pop—conscious punk record of all time. For a certain set of music fans, the Ramones are the Beatles. They wrote a staggering number of catchy tunes, and even if they're not your absolute favorite band of all time, you certainly have an opinion on them. Assuming perfection is a reality and not an ideal, the Ramones were perfect. Johnny brought the noise while Joey brought the hooks. Dee Dee could inject darkness and levity, sometimes in the same song. Tommy, and later Marky and Richie, drove the songs to be as fast as possible.

While there's a rough attempt at sequencing the set chronologically, it still skews history in favor of flow. The band's earth—shaking debut doesn't get represented until track five, "Beat on the Brat." "Blitzkrieg Bop" does pop up until track nine. But given all the tunes chosen to open the set (the infectious "I Wanna Be Sedated," the blistering "Teenage Lobotomy," the thundering "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment"), it's hard to criticize.

Fans can generally agree on the first four Ramones albums as being perfect. From End of the Century on, opinions start to split. Mania makes a compelling argument for the later records. Animal Boy and Too Tough to Die may not be as celebrated, but given that they provided the world with "Wart Hog," "Howling at the Moon (Sha—La—La)" and "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," maybe they're due for a second life. While Mania's second half grows increasingly keyboard—driven (making it sound more more dated than the Ramones' '70s material).

At the same time, Mania came out in 1988, effectively cutting off around the time primary songwriter Dee Dee quit the band. While Rhino's Hey Ho Let's Go! anthology does justice to the CJ years, Mania is more consistent by concentrating on the band's best years. It might miss some good songs ("Judy is a Punk," "53rd and 3rd," "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World"), but it's still perfect. We are talking about the Ramones after all.