The Vindictives - Leave Home (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Vindictives

Leave Home (1994)

Selfless records

In the early 90’s, someone got the bright idea to release cover versions of complete Ramones albums. The now defunct Selfless Records put out the first three between 1992 and 1994. They featured Screeching Weasel, The Vindictives and The Queers, three of the biggest names in pop-punk at the time. Screeching Weasel took on Ramones, and fellow Chicagoans The Vindictives tackled Leave Home. The two bands took very different approaches. While SW (and later The Queers) played it straight, The Vindictives took great liberties with the source material. Ben Weasel claims to this day that he hasn’t listened to this LP because Joey Vindictive is his friend and he doesn’t want to be pissed at him for screwing up his favorite record.

Generally bands should be praised for pushing the envelope, but in this case there were probably more misses than hits. First off, The Vindictives radically altered the order of the songs. Secondly, they played around quite a bit with the individual songs’ arrangements. The Vindictives included “Carbona Not Glue”, which was on the original pressing but was later removed because it contained the company’s actual name.They also added “Babysitter”, a B-side that replaced “Carbona” on later versions. They even included “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”, a non album single that replaced “Babysitter” on a third pressing. It wasn’t supposed to show up until the next record, Rocket to Russia. (It’s on that too.) The Ramones’ Leave Home started with “Glad to See You Go” and ended with “You Should Never Have Opened That Door”. The Vindictives’ version started with “Pinhead” and ended with “Swallow My Pride”. The middle songs were all mixed up too.

The Vindictives’ guitar sound was pretty jagged and the music was choppier. It was definitely more metallic sounding. There was also more lead guitar than Johnny played in his whole career. Joey Vindictive’s voice was one of best for snotty punk, but it was too harsh for these songs. It had plenty of attitude, but not the proper New York swagger. The lead and backing vocals were also changed quite a bit. There were even slight alterations to the lyrics. For the most part, it just didn’t work. Only a couple of songs really came out well. “Pinhead” used a sample from Freaks, the 1932 black and white cult classic film that inspired the original song. (If you haven’t see this movie, you must check it out.) “Commando” was enhanced by adding gunshots, a marching beat and a lyrical cadence. On the other hand, the sound effects on “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” made it almost unbearable.

The heavy Vindictives’ treatment may have worked if only used on a song or two. Over the course of 16 tracks it’s just too much. They definitely swung for the fences. If they had connected, this might have been the masterpiece of the series. Ultimately, they’re guilty of making a perfect, untouchable album into a mediocre one. As it turned out, it was the least listenable of the first three. It’s been reissued over the years, but currently it appears to be out of print. The Vindictives made some essential records, but this is for completists only.