Ramones - Bonzo Goes To Bitburg [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Ramones

Bonzo Goes To Bitburg [12-inch] (1985)

Beggars Banquet Records


Whether or not you think that Ronald Reagan’s presidency was successful or not, there is one thing that is true when it comes to the him and 80’s punk rock – his face was a major part of the art work back then be it show flyers, album covers, songs, etc. Though he was portrayed in a negative fashion, it can’t be denied that he had quite the “negative” influence on punk rock.

Even though the band was closing in on being ten years old at this point in their history, The Ramones did partake in taking some shots at The Gipper as well most notably in their three-track Bonzo Goes To Bitburg EP. It was not just the cover art of the president at Berlin Wall that was the main attack on him, but also the song title itself, which is a reference to a movie he starred in with a monkey called Bedtime For Bonzo in 1951 before he ever moved into politics. The Dead Kennedys made the same allusion with the title of their 1986 classic Bedtime For Democracy.

This EP interestingly enough was actually not pressed in the US. It was in fact a UK release that acted as sort of buffer in between 1984’s Too Tough To Die and 1986’s Animal Boy where the title track also appears. For some reason it is a bit overlooked especially when you look at the Ramones’ later discography. It was a bit of a hidden gem. Arguably, “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg” (also known as "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down") is one of their most famous songs and one of the few times they got political with their lyrics. Musically, this track was where we heard Joey Ramone’s vocal range widen a bit, especially in the anthemic chorus. The same goes for the backing vocals that go “ah, nah nah nah.” Also, Johnny Ramone’s guitar work is slightly different from his typical “down stroke style.” He playing was much more calculated because at each chord change he let's the chord ring a bit. The use of a xylophone was a really nice little touch to emphasize the chords changes, too.

“Go Home Ann,” which actually never made it on to a full-length is a bit of throw back to The Ramones’ early material. It wasn’t really their best song writing, but it is a case where they were a fairly big band at this point in their career. There are lots of repetitive lyrics, Joey’s voice is the gravely side, and of course the straight-to-the-point, no-BS guitar and bass parts that became their signature style. This song is also important because of its musical connection, which is that Lemmy of Motorhead mixed/ helped produce it.

“Daytime Dilemma (Dangers Of Love),” which appeared first on Too Tough To Die sounds sort of like The Ramones’ attempt at new wave. It isn’t as urgent as their other songs and even the melody that Joey sings was much more relaxed, not to mention the fact that the song is easily double or even in some cases triple the length of the rest of the songs in their catalogue. And for some reason they added a gratuitous piano fill around the middle of it. “Daytime Dilemma (Dangers Of Love)” is a perfect example of how The Ramones began to branch out their sound, but it is still the same Ramones we all love to this day.