CJ Ramone - Understand Me? [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

CJ Ramone

Understand Me? [7-inch] (2014)

Fat Wreck Chords

It’s been 25 years since CJ Ward became a Ramone. Taking over for founding member Dee Dee Ramone, Ward played with the seminal band for seven years before their 2,263rd (and final show) in Los Angeles in 1996. Now, in 2014, Ramone is releasing his debut record for Fat Wreck Chords, and Understand Me? is the first offering from the upcoming album.

Starting with a heavy drumbeat and guitars on the downstroke, it would be easy to classify “Understand Me?” as a Ramones knockoff. It certainly has its similarities (and there are times that Ramone almost sounds like Joey), but as it moves along at a quick pace, it stands on its own merit and the listener almost forgets Ramone’s pedigree with his former band. Backed by Dan Root and Steve Soto (Adolescents) and David Hidalgo, Jr. (Social Distortion), who also played on his 2012 album, Ramone has managed to bring even more classic punk cred to the recording.

Speaking of classic, the b-side is a by-the-numbers cover of Black Flag’s “Rise Above.” Dez Cadena, formerly with Black Flag and now with The Misfits plays guitar and adds his gravelly howl to the backing vocals. Unfortunately, there’s nothing special or different about the recording, and could just as easily be the original version with slightly better production and Ramone’s voice dubbed in for Henry Rollins’. A throwaway.

The A-side is a great signal of what’s to come with Ramone’s upcoming release, Last Chance To Dance.