Ramones - Subterranean Jungle (Cover Artwork)

Ramones

Subterranean Jungle (1983)

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I’m not going to spend a lot of time detailing and regurgitating the history of the Ramones, nor am I going to describe how their music changed my life. Love them, or hate them, the Ramones are a musical and counterculture staple that deserve some respect from anyone involved in the punk rock community. The Ramones are punk rock’s Beatles, you can feel how you want about their music, but they will always be relevant in some form, so without further ado here is the review of Subterranean Jungle.

Subterranean Jungle is a mid-career release for the Ramones; it came out at a time when in-fighting and substance abuse problems were frequent issues. It also marks the last release prior to Marky being dismissed due to struggles with addiction. It is a record that likely doesn’t top anyone’s favorite Ramones album list, but still has some awesome moments.

For anyone that wasn’t aware, Subterranean Jungle features three covers “Little Bit O’Soul”, “I Need Your Love” and “Time Has Come Today”, this was an interesting route for the band, and I will admit is my least favorite part of the record. The album begins with two back to back covers, neither of which are strong points on the record, both “Little Bit O’Soul” and “I Need Your Love” fall short for me, they are boring and bland versions of their previous versions. The latter of the three covers, “Time Has Come Today” was a single, and is my favorite of the three. This record would undeniably be stronger with more originals, the covers don’t completely torpedo the release but they definitely weaken it. None of the covers themselves push me to the point of turning off the record, but I would avoid them on repeat listens.

Following the second cover is “Outsider”, which is a poppy, catchy Ramones anthem. This song stands out on this release as Johnny Ramone was given free reign to implement more hard rock and psychedelic rock influences on these songs, leaving “Outsider” as one of the records strongest points. “Outsider” stands out as a nice poppy return to form for the band. Following “Outsider”, side A moves on to a more rock oriented “What’d Ya Do?” which continues to set the pace for the rest of the album. “Psycho Therapy” is another stand out track and the most widely known song from this release, it works to speed things back up and remind us of past Ramones glory, but ultimately the slower rock vibe returns with following tracks “In The Park" and “My-My Kind Of Girl”.

Subterranean Jungle is a decent Ramones record, it has a few really stand out songs including “Outsider”, “Psycho Therapy”, “My-My Kind of Girl” and “Time Bomb", but the album as a whole is far from my favorite. Side A really struggles to shine through the two covers and slower paced rock songs, leaving “Outsider” as the main winning point of the first half of the record. Side B is by far the stronger side with catchier more upbeat songs, but the missteps of side A keep the record from landing the serious punch the Ramones were aiming for. Subterranean Jungle isn’t the best, it’s far from the worst, and it goes to show that even the Ramones can’t pull off three classic covers on a full length.