In the mid to late 90’s it seemed that bands in Scandinavia had sold their collective souls at the Cross Roads found at the Three-Country Cairn, where each member was given the complete discography of the Nomads, The Stooges and the MC5 and told to go away and learn them.
Paving the road were the three horsemen of the apocalypse; The Hellacopters, Gluecifer and the Flaming Sideburns. Following on in their wake were the just as important and influential second wave, never quite making it to the Arenas but packing out clubs across their home Countries, Europe and even as far afield as North America. One such band was the “DEMONS”. Strangely enough, the States, notably the Pacific Northwest, embraced the Scandinavian Invasion and for a while, “DEMONS” were the uncrowned Kings of it.
To celebrate the band’s 25th Anniversary a live album called “No Loitering” that was recorded between their second album “Stockholm Slump” and third “Demonology” on the 5th March 2004 at The Crocodile Cafe in Seattle is being released via Vitriola Recordings.
The press release says that “It by no means is pretty”, I’m not even sure if this is off the Soundboard or a very well recorded audience recording but it’s what we want, no scrub that, it’s what we need; fast, sweaty and furious without any compromises. The original classic four piece line-up kicking an eleven song set off with “Undertaker’s Lament” from the aforementioned “Stockholm Slump” but before you have time to register that fact the band are already ripping through “Devil In Me” but it’s not all past glories as the band road test the as yet unreleased “Lost Dog” and “What’s This Shit Called Love”, that both sit perfectly well in the set. The gig is the perfect length for us old school TDK 90 merchants coming in at just under 40 minutes.
Back in the day if I did have this on a cassette on the other side would be the Ramones “It’s Alive”. The only gripe I have is no “Electrocute”. Over here in Dear olde Blighty gigs still seem a long way off. This is why “No Loitering” is so important; not only is it a band firing on all cylinders but it is a reminder of how good live gigs are.
Buy it Here
Author: Armitage Smith
Nailing that quintessential NooYawk rock and roll sound but doing it in the Czech Republic is some feat but New York Junk nailed it. It’s fair to say these cats are vets of the scene and been in the thick of the Bowery scene since its inception back in the ’70s and survived to tell the tail. Getting Tarbeach Records to release the record of seven tunes recorded in the Czech Republic at the tail end of 2019 and mixed pre-pandemic these seven tunes are coming out on red vinyl.
It’s a simple formula. Guitar, Bass and Drums and play from the heart, make it Rock and Roll – sing about what you see and believe in yourself then everything else is gravy. You either have “it” or you don’t. We know whos fakin’ it and who isn’t and on this evidence, you can take the people out of Noo Yawk but you can’t take the Noo Yawk outta the people.
New York Junk have released three previous records starting with ‘Passion of the 10th St Blues’ (2008), ‘Doing Time in New York City’ (2014), and ‘7 Train’ (2018). Their sound is somewhere between Thunders and The Stones with a bit of Lou Reed creeping in on some of the melodies but there are some real gems in here. I love side two from the more aggressive ‘Scared’ with a cool thump on the floor toms and strained vocals it’s fragile yet looking for trouble great opening tune to side two. The albums best track ‘Passion’ with its rather splendid Thunders dripping guitar solo the songs got a tonne of passion and it shines through. They’re not reinventing the wheel here they’re just writing great tunes and relying on what’s pouring out of their hearts and spilling into the grooves of the record. Let’s stay with side two and the title track which is a repetitive riff that’s moving slowly and gently, for the most part, meandering through the cracks of the recording towards the solo sure it’s like a VU moment in time but that’s always going to be cool.
Anyway, Let’s continue as we flip flop back to side one and the opening blast of the ‘Gutter Angels’. Like a poem to the Lower East Side leaning on the Voidoids or something Lou Reed might have penned. ‘She Don’t Care’ could have been borrowed from Walter Lure whilst ‘Walk My Dog’ is some Thunders homage and fairly standard. Closing off side one is ‘Don’t Cry For Me’ which sounds like we’ve just been dropped off in the early ’70s after finding out this time capsule is captained by Sylvain Sylvain and the cabin crew consists of Johansen and Killer Kane. Pure nostalgia done with care and a big smile – whats not to like?
All in all a really enjoyable seven tracks from New York Junk and for anyone who hankers for a slice of that time when giants walked the earth and strutted their stuff. Check it out if you’re smart enough and start ‘Dreamin’.
Feels a bit weird yet fitting that I’m reviewing the Doojimans debut record (of sorts) second after reviewing their second release first. Cofused? You will be but I doubt Doojiman and the gang would want it any other way.
Doojiman and his side kick Woogie Wombach grabbed a few space cadets and space cakes before heading into outter space to see if they could pull together something from the influences they had here on earth like The Ramones, MC5 and The Stooges but they weren’t just going to ape their idols they were going to throw their own shapes into the bowl and mix a fucked up salad all by themselves
With a bunch of EP’s, singles and two full-length albums under their belts (including ‘Electric Boogaloo’, released in January of this year by Beluga Records), Heavy Medication is bringing Stockholm’s D&TE’s debut digital-only e.p. from 2014 to vinyl for the first time and rockin up at Heavy Medications Door seems just about right and par for the course, to be honest.
From its opening chords, the “Watch Out! Look Out!” EP is everything as good as the ‘Electric Bugaloo’ album make no mistake about that. Its not just the debut EP though to be fair it also has the added bonus of four extra tracks (including a Nobunny cover) to make this another album they will certainly have orbiting around the end of the year best albums list. From the fuzzed-up organ heaving of opener ‘Woogie Wombach’ this record just motors. ‘(I Wanna Go) Take Me Away’ is a throbbing mass of Ramones angst being whipped by a Quo like twelve-bar chug.
They fly the Hives flag on ‘Doojiwoman’ and that filthy bass on ‘I Love It When You Hate Me’ would have been terrifying in the swinging ’60s where it was surely born. It’s like the Kinks on bad Acid but they’ve still got their mojo baby.
It’s not all crash bang wallop though kids, of course, it’s not as the band tackle the Nobunny tune ‘Apple Tree’ with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and some tasteful percussion and shimmering electric to puncture the chorus. but before things are brought to a close they venture off through late seventies NYC where they tune their antenna to something Blondie used to ply through the airwaves. Basically another top tune amongst an album full of top tunes but I expected nothing less. Sign me up scotty for the next one I can’t get enough of these crazy cats. Signing off starlog 2020 scribe Daley signing out! Buy it.
Author: Dom Daley
Probably the sleaziest band on the planet right now taking on all comers and turning up the fuzz and writing essential Rock and Roll at every turn. These cats are the alpha males of dirty garage rock and roll and I’m saying right here from the off that had this bad boy not been released so late in the year it would have steamed into the top ten with ease.
They’ve been causing trouble since 2015 and now reside in the seedy underbelly of London Town after escaping their native New Zealand to reach a wider audience. If you’re asking me what do they sound like well, they play dirty filthy punk rock ‘n’ garage real old school fuzzed-up garage Rock n roll like Iggy ‘n’ Ron used to play with some Brain James licks thrown into the mix They’re wild and reckless like Ron ‘n’ Wayne played in the MC5. They stole from Lux and Ivy and they took it all and consumed the lot and became The Cavemen. When ‘Snakeskin’ bursts through the speaker I can sit back and take it all in as the fearless foursome just kick the living shit out of their Rock and Roll and sling in some well-timed cliched guitar licks for good measure. But wait, ‘Boyfriend’ even with its fuzzed guitar-slinging and bad boy lyrics its got rhythm and handclaps it’s like the Ramones badly-behaved cousins who just drink beer and fight have turned up and this time they’re getting serious.
Man, I thought it was impossible for these cats to get any better then they turn up with an acoustic guitar and throw out ‘I Don’t Know Why’. Its a bit soppy maybe it’s their age or they’ve run out of spite and bile and its time to settle down. what a tune but wait, agh! normal service is resumed as ‘Can’t Resist’ is spat out like only a bunch of angry young men can do.
The title track is like a dirty filthy power-pop ditty with great backing vocals it would seem the Cavemen have stolen Los Pepes crown for penning rapid chunks of garage power pop. ‘Night After Night’ is a banger from its Jam like chord changes and bass thump to the melodic chorus and Bv’s and uptempo pace these guys are on fire!
They take it back down and dial back into the acoustic-electric Ramones theft of ‘Belgian Holiday’ because this could have fallen off the back of ‘End Of The Century’ easily. (Minus the Spector wall of sound obviously) “oooh, I wanna Be Your Boyfriend” who cares anyway The Ramones stole it anyway.
‘Slave’ sounds like Jim Jones having a blast on some 70s glitter but the trashy glitter that the Dolls peddled. But there’s so much going on within this record, the variety of tunes and the change of gears is a masterstroke. Of course, the songs pretty much hover around the two-minute mark so they’re never going to get boring that’s a given.
the two singles that they’ve made videos for show how varied they get and how strong the melodies are. ‘Knife fight’ is rapid and a lot of fun whilst ‘Are You Lonely?’ delves further back into the 60s for their inspiration before blasting off toward the album’s conclusion and the penultimate track sounds exactly how you’d imagine someone like The Dead Boys would sound if they were just starting out in 2019 – exciting – energetic – confident and essential. Which leaves their stab at slide filled cowboy rock and roll ‘Death Will Never Change’ which just about wraps up a stunning record. A headfuck of an album that will leave you reeling – one that kicks you then gives you a hug and shares its beer with you but only if you’re 100% in. Me I’m there. Someone get me a beer I’m going back in, ‘Night After Night’ is a crazy roller coaster ride of Rock and Roll unoriginal as shit but fuck me it sounds so damn good!
Buy ‘Night After Night’ Here
Author: Dom Daley
What do you want from your rock and roll? Uh you yes I’m talking to you. Do you want loud guitars with about 30% Chuck Berry riff-a-rama and about 30% AC/DC another 30% punk rock attiude like The Ramones and 10% stubbourness and a middle finger fuck you we’re doing it our way or no way at all. Well, if that’s what your looking for then might I introduce Backstreet Girls a rock and roll band from Norway. Who are on their umpteenth album and something of Rock and Roll royalty in their homeland and so they bloodywell should be. They do what they do and do it exceedingly well they don’t follow fashions they just get on with what gets them off and that’s the deal they don’t experiment they just write the best songs they can at the time and kick the shit out of their equipment to get the best songs laid down. They sing about birds, Booze and back beats oh and cars, fights and good times. Like I said what else do you want?
Petter Baarli knows every chuck Berry lick off by heart and duck walks like a good un and on songs like the rapid ‘where Have All The Bad Boys Gone?’ they pose the questions. The don’t offer the answers or come up with solutions that’s not what they’re about but fuck me sideways they do it exceptionally well and boy does it sound good when they hit full tilt.
They can marry boogie with some Ramones punk not the 50’s melodies and they’re not tipping the hat to the shagri las but they’ve stolen the good beats and guital riffs and with Bjørn Muller they have the perfect 40 a day whisky swigging razor blade vocals that have the warm edge but boy is it a marriage made in hell as they instinctively feed off one and other to deliver the best boogie rock and roll anywhere right now.
Its not all top down cruising round at breakneck speed waving their middle finger in the air, as ‘Phenomenal’ is laid back and grooving because they can but hold on to your ladies ‘Status Quolity’ is up next and it sounds like Motorhead found a quo songbook down the back of some backstage sofa and dusted off a few bars for themselves, oh, and that slide is Joe Perry tastic. They’ve brought us wild women and bad bad boy7as in the past but this album is rock solid and there isn’t a weakness anywhere throughout the twelve tracks.
‘Wild Wilder’ is down and dirty with a chorus you’ll be joining in with and punching the air with plenty of verve knowing you’ve just been given another quality lesson in bad boy boogie with Oslo’s finest. I’d love to see these boys land a big tour and take their tunes to the masses and kick thousands of backsides in the process. To finish this one off ‘Motorhellway’ revs up and speeds off into the sunset. Backstreet Girls have done it again they came they saw they delivered a loud rousing rock and roll fuck you! Times might be changing with global politics in the gutter but fuck it lets rock and let ‘Normal Is Dangerous’ be the soundtrack to the impending Armageddon
Buy ‘Normal Is Dangerous’ Here
Author: Dom Daley
I’m gonna start this by stating right here right now that the Ramones released seventeen official albums they had three drummers, two bass players just the one guitarist and one frontman. Of the seventeen they had three live albums, a few compilations with the best being ‘Ramones Mania’ vol One and two. The classic ‘It’s Alive’ absolutely peerless as a double album never bettered by anyone anywhere in any genre. The other two were alright, ‘Loco Live’ which was alright and the last hurrah! of ‘We’re Outta Here!’ for the purposes of this article I’m excluding these three because it would seem unfair somewhat as ‘Its Alive’ might well finish top of the pops on the sheer quality of the tracklist and the quality of the performances. Sure I love ‘Get Your Ya Ya’s Out’ and I love ‘All Those Wasted Years’ and to be fair ‘No Sleep Til Hammersmith’ is a bit of a banger and whilst I’m here ‘Live Bootleg’ is pretty good as well and maybe ‘Iggy Live At The channel’ is also faultless but to be fair we’re here to chew the fat over a Ramones top ten maybe live albums, in general, is for another day so… without further ado here’s my Top Ten Ramones Studio Albums…1-2-3-4 Hey Ho Lets Go!
Number Ten – ‘Acid Eaters’ The last spot goes to the band’s covers album. I don’t remember many or any other bands making a record of covers they loved and making them their own. I’m amazed how they even reached a consensus as to what went on the record never mind Brexit Imagine the debate in camp Ramones as to what went on this album. I guess there might be question marks about who plays what on it and even if they had the appetite to compile the record but as a finished body of work I remember being quite excited at hearing The Ramones and how they’d tackle some of these great tunes would they pull it off? Would they have people laughing openly at their attempts at real grown-up cover songs? Well, all that went out the window when the band rattled through the intro of ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Mind’.
Some of the covers were predictable to be fair but the delivery was pretty decent as well. ‘Substitute’ is stright forward and ‘Out Of Time’ is hammed up whilst The CJ sung take of Slades ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ is a real curveball. No surprise to see the band playing a Jefferson Airplane and Animals songs respectively again fairly standard takes to be fair.
Now ‘7 And 7 Is’ was far livelier and a great version. Joey gives it some in his performance and a really good cover. the Ramones doing Bob Dylan wasn’t something anyone ever envisaged I’d wager but CJ does a good job on bashing this one out. The version of the Seeds ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ was one I always liked but to compare it to Johnny Thunders is like night and day. Thunders wins by a TKO. Is there an American band who hasn’t covered a song by John Fogerty? A fact for you pop pickers this track has been covered or recorded by 401 bands/artists. A good song done fairly well but lacks imagination. The Troggs ‘Can’t Control Myself’ is one of the best songs on the album and there had to be a surf song on the album they’d already owned the best surf song recorded but this sappy take is a bit of a wheeze. But all in all the potential car crash album didn’t materialize and The Ramones came out on top. It just squeaks into the top ten because of its kitsch appeal and they certainly recorded worse records than this no question about it. Favourite track – ‘Out Of Time’.
Number Nine – ‘Mondo Bizarro‘ There are a few reasons ‘Mondo’ gets in so I’ll outline my case in the defense of this fine record. Point one, Its still the Ramones, point two CJ makes his debut, It had several of the bands best post Dee Dee songs on it. The Ramones were still fun live and they were still better than a lot of bands in the early ’90s. ‘Censorshit’ was one in the eye for the PMRC and whilst a bit behind the curve of tipper bashing and a song that no doubt got under Johnny’s skin but it was a blast across the bow that the Ramones weren’t dead yet.
Dee Dee was still writing songs for the band even though he was long gone and there is no denying that ‘Poison Heart’ is right up there with the best the band has ever had their name credited on and not far behind it is CJ’s ‘Strength To Endure’. Whilst it might get a little stretched in the middle it does come back around and ending with ‘Touring’ is a right toe-tapper and if you’re any sort of fan you’ve sung your socks off to this one. I remember reading a review at the time before I’d heard the record and it claimed the Ramones were finished and it was a lazy record that had no merit but I don’t find it lazy or lacking merit having three excellent songs is enough for that not to be the case and I like ‘I Won’t Let It Happen’. ‘Cabbies On Crack’ is a nice riff and Joeys voice is at its elastic best as he manages to get the lyrics out without taking a breath. I will concede I can do without ‘Heidi Is A Headcase’ to be fair. Favourite track – ‘Poison Heart’
Number Eight- ‘Brain Drain’ I always loved the cover art and I even went to the cinema to see the movie pet cemetery to hear the Ramones play out at the end. I first had this on CD and even now I’m bugged how quiet the mastering is. Way quieter than any other CD in my collection bar none. As for the music the it was the first album recorded with Marky back on the drum stool after six years away. It was also the last album the band did on Sire Records and was maybe the last consistent record they did before the inevitable slide to the end. the constant friction was taking its toll but when ‘I Believe In Miracles’ chimes in it’s like they’ve wound the clock back more than a few years as its a return to the policy of front-loading their record with the best tune.
‘Don’t Bust My Chops’ and the Dee Dee sang ‘Punishment Fit The Crime’ is a great tune and this being three of the opening four songs why wouldn’t you think the boys were back in the saddle? and ‘Palisades Park’ is a banger and could have sat nicely on almost every Ramones album ever. ‘Pet Cemetery’ is a great song and ‘Learn To Listen’ is New York hardcore and Joey growls like a bear and the riff on ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ is quality. I’ll always defend ‘Brain Drain’ there are more than a couple of decent songs on it and Joey was right on form. To close the album that came out in the May of ’89 the Ramones sling ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’ inspired move and a song that should be on every Now That’s What I Call Christmas’ album but strangely it’s never included, oh well, their loss. Favourite Track – ‘I Beleive In Miracles’
Number Seven- ‘Pleasant Dreams’ The band seemed obsessed about their pursuit to be loved and to have big hit singles and to be part of the mainstream. Forget songs like ‘Outsider’ they always craved to be insiders and part of the establishment and get the kudos other bands were having but always seemed to allude the Ramones. Album number six was time for another stab at the mainstream success they went for 10CC’s Graham Gouldman to bring that pop sheen they felt might propel them up the charts and into peoples hearts.
It’s evident from the opening track ‘We Want The Airwaves’ that the sound was less in your face and with the addition of keyboards it was certainly more polished. Regardless of that the opener is a good tune even if I’m not sure how much of a part Johnny plays on this one. Even the songs that were “Ramones Like” they were certainly toned down and softer like ‘Alls Quiet On The Eastern Front’. It does, however, house the classic ‘KKK Took My Baby Away’. I always loved the Ramones power-pop leanings and even with the outsider’s influence on the sound and (possibly) the songwriting songs like ‘Don’t Go’ might not have been up there as memorable Ramones classics but they were trying to evolve and the harmonies were different yet still it was The Ramones.
Songs like ‘You Sound Like Your Sick’ are just the powers that be letting the kids run feral out the back to keep them on track but alas the straying from what the band did best ultimately flopped and they didn’t have hit after hit after hit but ‘Pleasant Dreams’ did signal a shift in the band as they were trying different things how could you not like ‘Its Not My Place’ and ‘7-11’ they were no brainers for Joey who was always susceptible to leaning towards the 50s style on the melodies. ‘Come On Now’ could easily have been a Blondie song from the keyboard sound to the melody. ‘This Business Is Killing Me’ must have been more closer to home than any of us cared for but the band had a real beef as to why they didn’t have mass acceptance. To end with a slice of great power pop ‘Sitting In My Room’ this experiment ultimately failed and the world didn’t catch up. Favourite Track – ‘KKK Took My Baby Away’.
Number Six- ‘Animal Boy’. Kicking off album number nine with a song written by the drummer might seem brave but on listening to ‘Somebody Put Something In My Drink’ it’s a no brainer as Ritchie showed he could pen a decent tune no doubt about that. It common knowledge that around this time Joey and Johnny weren’t getting on and Dee Dee sided with Joey and Johnny went on record to suggest Joey should go do his solo album and he wouldn’t tour the UK and maybe that tension was reflected in the album but to be fair to Dee Dee he pulled a cat out of the bag on ‘Animal Boy’ as it contained some really strong songs and also featured the six-string work of Walter Lure of the Heartbreakers. The title track is a heads-down Ramones banger. You also have the Dee Dee vocals on the great ‘Love Kills’ his song about Sid & Nancy. I always thought it was one of the bands toughest sounding records with uncompromising tunes like ‘Apeman Hop’ but they did then show their softer side and a cheesy stab at chart success with ‘She Belongs To Me’. There are a few cringy moments that hold the record back like ‘Crummy Stuff’ which might be my least favourite Ramones song ever but let’s not detract from what else is on ‘Animal Boy’.
‘Bonzo goes To Bitburg’ was a minor hit and a real highlight but it was the fact joey only wrote three songs the same as producer Jean Beauvoir. The album was dominated by Dee Dee who closed the record off with the chiming ‘Something To Believe In’. Favourite track – ‘Bonzo Goes To Bitburg’ closely followed by ‘Love Kills’.
Number five- ‘Too Tough to Die’ Marky was gone and Ritchie was now on the drum stool for the first time and what an album to make your debut. Back to writing songs that were harder and dare I say it tougher, certainly less pop smart with the band admitting as much with Joey quoted as saying “We were focused in the same direction, and it made a difference. We knew we needed to get back to the kind of harder material we’d become known for. The pop stuff hadn’t really worked, and we knew we were much better off doing what we did best”. It was now the mid-eighties and the band had almost been at it fo ra decade they were already on the third drummer they failed to make too big a dent in the pop charts so now it was time to knuckle down and write an album for themselves and for the people who just got it and loved them unequivocally.
The title track was the template along with the opener ‘Mama’s Boy’ the band were making an ugly record of tough songs and by the time the wonderful ‘Durango 95’ had finished (I always loved the intro but always wondered why it was in the middle of a record and not at the start) it did however preface the wonderful ‘Wart Hog’ an utter Dee Dee classic the sound of a rabid dog straining at the leash I always loved ‘Wart Hog’ still do. ‘Howling At The Moon’ being the stick out like a sore thumb track in the middle of the record with the keyboards and synth pumping out the rhythm. ‘Human Kind’ and ‘No Go’ were always the dark horses on this record and song I always loved ‘No Go’. It was the Ramones not compromising and doing what they wanted and the big question did Johnny play that solo? Maybe Maybe not its a great record regardless of the constant squabbling within the camp, at last, they seemed to have all been on the same page even if it’s hard to believe that Joey never wanted to include ‘Wart Hog’. Also, anyone who’s ever been to New York and gone to central park must have had a photo taken in the tunnel haven’t they? Or is it just me? Favourite Track – ‘Wart Hog’.
Number Four– The Sophmore album ‘Leave Home‘. More than the debut even now ‘Leve Home’ sounds like a band who found their feet and weren’t mucking about its a bit more business-like and not the sound of four guys chancing it and not sure if they have a bunch of songs that might be decent on ‘Leave Home’ they are a step up in professionalism (cough cough) and whilst they might have felt hell were still getting away with this but we might actually be good at it.
Again the opening salvo of the first four songs on side one are incredible and to us brits it was exotic. what the fuck was burger King? Carbona, not Glue? From ‘Glad To See You Go’ to ‘Oh Oh I Love Her So’ it’s faultless and they’ve even expanded the sound with ‘I Remember You’ and throwing it in so early is brave. Also worth mentioning the band never wrote a song over three minutes until their fourth album -no prog on the Ramones, no sir. Its also the first album that had a song I wasn’t sold on and to be honest playing it back now I’m still not fussed on ‘Suzy Is A Headbanger’. Maybe its the fact its sandwiched between two outstanding songs in ‘Carbona Not Glue’ and the unbelievable ‘Pinhead’.
the thing with @Leave Home’ is that a lot of the songs always sounded so much better live when the tempo was faster. ‘Swallow My Pride’, ‘California Sun’ and ‘Commando’. My favourite songs on the album are ‘Pinhead’ and ‘You’re Gonna Kill That Girl’ and one of their best ever ‘Glad To See You Go’.
Number Three – ‘Rocket To Russia‘. three albums in under eighteen months is an incredible feat and same old same old with the power of hindsight an incredible album with some of the bands most iconic tunes. Its no secret that there are plenty of bands who frontload an album with the strongest songs and this isn’t by chance its something bands (sometimes) take forever and a day deciding on the track running order and quite often it’s important but The Ramones man I’d like to think spent about two minutes deciding or someone did it for them because quite frankly it doesn;t matter because who can possibly decide if an album like ‘Rocket’ should open with the unbelievable ‘Rockaway Beach’ or ‘Sheena Is a Punk Rocker’ or what they settled on the full force wall of sound ‘Cretin Hop’. Again no song over three minutes and before you could even get comfortable ‘Rockaway Beach’ has already been and gone. How the fuck did these kids from Queens write and play a song as good as that? forget the tempo, forget the chorus, forget the drum beat forget those time changes just home in on the melody and the deliveryon the harmonies its one of the best songs ever no doubt about it. Then to come down theres the morning-after hangover of ‘Here Today, Gone tomorrow’. the Stooges could have written ‘I Don’t Care’ (probably did but Dee Dee nicked it) the audacity of a bunch of scruffy herberts just out of high school writing a song of the caliber of ‘Sheena’ should be upsetting but its upsetting that this wasn’t number one for months across the globe. Its a near-perfect slab of rock and Roll with the melody of The Beach Boys mixed with the musicianship of some delinquents is something that needs to be explained. Maybe people have always had cloth ears when it came to what sold and what didn’t.
The lyrics of ‘We’re A Happy Family’ always intrigued me where did the inspiration come from? the album flip-flopped from the melodic bubblegum power pop the band did so well like ‘Ramona’ to the straight-ahead bish bash bosh of the opener. On another day this might be my favourite Ramones record it potentially is the most consistent but it wasn’t the first but on the other hand maybe because it wasn’t the first (or second) it’s remarkable but it has to sit somewhere and that somewhere is number three. Oh, and Tommy said goodbye after this album and took a backseat. Favourite track – ‘Rockaway Beach’
Number Two – Self Titled Debut. ‘The Ramones’ One another day this would be number one and I guess as far as debut albums go there have been plenty that was regarded as a bands best partly down to the fact they had years to write the songs then to follow it up a band generally has less time and so on. But listening back this is pretty faultless for any album the songs are just glorious. Take the handclaps on the Mono Version (audio nerd alert) it sounds like Tommy is there next to you it’s that good. What a powerful thing. The funny thing is listening back to give it a critical ear I find myself just smiling at the sheer quality of the songs and not just the big hitters like the opening three tracks which would go down as one of the strongest opening trio anywhere ever. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, ‘Beat On The Brat’ and ‘Judy’ are amazing. Being of a certain age maybe I can’t appreciate what an impact this record would have had on a young man when hearing it first but I got into the Ramones on my number one and maybe thats been a big reason as to why thats the case and why I can’t separate that from being objective all these years later and the many thousands of plays these records have had over the years.
I can feel the danger of ’53rd & 3rd’ and what it must have felt like hearing ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’ sure there are no weak tracks on this record and maybe its the little things that stand out for me now like the gang vocals on ‘Chainsaw’ and hearing Johnny trying to be louder than Joey I’m sure he is, listen to it. Favourite track is probably ‘Judy Is A Punk’ Why? those handclaps and tambourine whilst the Bass and Guitars are raging like fuck it’s such a beautiful thing and probably could never ever be written today by anyone. Favourite Track – ‘Judy Is A Punk’
Number One – ‘End Of The Century’ Might not be everyone’s choice )I’m Aware of that) and one that has made people laugh but it was the album I came in on and therefore my exposure was the four geeks on the cover and I can still remember dropping the needle on dads Marantz turntable and playing it for what seemed like days on end preferring it to food and football and as soon as it finished I’d play it again until I’d fall asleep. No I didn’t really have a clue who Phil Spector was and it wasn’t until years later reading about the wall of sound and the firearms used to get the band to record parts of this amazing album.
‘Do You Remember Rock and Roll’ is my ringtone has been since I had a smartphone and even now I might not pick up because I have to hear a bit more of the song (sorry bout that if I haven’t picked up) then into the Bass drilling down before the acoustic guitar! WTF The Ramones and acoustic guitars? It might have been akin to Dylan ditching the acoustic and horrified fans ditching him when fans heard this but remember I hadn’t been there from the start. ‘Danny Says’ is soppy Joey at his best. They really pulled the band out of their comfort zone and I’ve got this far and not mentioned Johnny’s hair on the cover and their four for three on t-shirts in Walmart to bring then band into the 20th Century with such a bright bold cover. Again featuring the four musicians something I’m sure they insisted on. Its a maligned album with some claims its disjointed -piffle! ‘Chinese Rocks’ is a classic full stop, Don’t care that it’s about copping dope and I don’t care they borrowed Steve Jones tone for ‘The Return Of Jackie And Judy’ the roll on the floor tom is enough for me. Spector might well have been a few sandwiches short of a picnic and his experiment did yield the magnificent opening track and they’d not sounded so brutal as they did on ‘Lets Go’ so much for getting softer and they borrowed the Dead Boys drum roll on this one as well and the Dead Boys were/are awesome so that’s a tick in my book.
Christ, you could play ‘Baby I Love You’ to your girlfriend or your mother and still have street cred with your mates. Joey pulls a blinder on this one by singing from his cotton socks to the tip of his plentiful barnet one of his best vocal performances bar none. It might not have the best Ramones songs on it but as a complete piece of work, I fuckin’ love it! From the fuzzy radio tuning to the fade-out of ‘High-Risk Insurance’ it’s brilliant. It’s full of Ramones hallmarks and noticeable markers but they took a chance with Spector and in my eyes, it paid off. they could have rested on their considerable laurels by now and churned out another Ramones record but they didn’t they expanded the envelope and took a chance All hail my favourite Ramones record. ‘End Of The Fucking Century’ Ave it! Favourite song- ‘Do You Remember Rock And Roll’
So there you have it might not be a perfect summary and I doubt it’ll be your favourite Ten Ramones albums. Maybe if you ask me in a weeks time it might be different. Of the albums that didn’t make it into this particular list I can’t really think of one album that I don’t like. There are songs I’m not too fussed on but overall for a band who spanned many decades and changes in consumer buying habits as well as internal band changes and losing their main song writer survived and every time I had the pleasure of seeing them play they were on form. They looked like the coolest gang and championed being outsiders I loved The Ramones the first time I heard them and love them now. So go play your favourite Ramones song and spread the word – We accept you one of us!
Buy the Ramones Here
“A gigantic sike is an escape plan,” says Billy Jeans. “It’s the idea of being able to just drop a big ‘ol whoopsie-daisies on everything we’ve done up to this point — the songs, albums, the band’s existence, my own personal existence — and play the whole thing off as a goof. It’s a joke on the fantasy of sneaking out the backdoor on a crummy identity you didn’t necessarily mean to create.”
Gigantic Sike is Mean Jeans’ fourth full-length — or fifth, if you include last year’s Jingles Collection, a 23-song assemblage of unsolicited product jingles written for brands like Totino’s, Skoal and Mountain Dew. (“I think the jingles are our best work, but I guess you can’t mosh to windshield-wiper endorsement ballads,” Jeans explains.) The trio recorded Gigantic Sike‘s 11 songs over three days in Los Angeles in December 2018 (the first day was spent learning the tracks; the next two spent hammering them out). Like all prior Mean Jeans albums, Gigantic Sike falls into the category of three-chord, heavily Ramones-influenced party punk. Um? What else can I say? Thats pretty much it. Band loves The Ramones and plays fast catchy punk and does it well with a great production. What are the songs like? Well, The record opens with “Party Line,” and within the first 15 seconds, Billy Jeans sings about Coors Light, cocaine and mentions his actual phone number. Wow imagine AC/DC gave out Angus number on Whole Lotta Rosie. Loons.
‘Basement Animals’ whilst having the Ramones buzz saw guitar riffing away it has a real power pop melody and I’d say more so evident on ‘Just A Trim’. Sure The Ramones homage is such a mountain to get over but if you can get over that and just appreciate a band knocking out some punk rockin’ power poppin’ rock and roll then there is plenty to enjoy here thats for sure. Even if they never ever stray from the formula. I’m OK with that.
‘I Fell Into A Bog’ is inspired by the time drummer Jeans Wilder actually, literally fell into a Florida bog during the Fest and wasn’t located by the band until the next morning (true Story apparently) — ‘Gigantic Sike‘s’ mission statement is the idea of being able to run away from all of the stupid decisions you’ve made so far in life, ‘Time Warp’ is the exit strategy,” Billy Jeans says. “Siking a misled party life and taking the time warp to start over again is a theme in the record — laughing at what you’ve become and wondering if you can just warp your way out of it.” How can you not have a soft spot for that outlook on life?
At times I’m reminded of one of the finest exponents of wall of sound power pop punk rockers Los Pepes take ‘Stuck In My Head’ as an example and the rather good ‘Buddys Leaving’ before we head back out on the Dee Dee highway of ‘I Fell Into A Bog’. wait, What a synth? Sure is ‘What The Fuck Is Up Tonight’ is pushing the envelope. Nah not really but its a welcome sidestep.
Nowadays, Mean Jeans’ members are scattered across three different states, and they’re probably feeling the effects of being in a party-punk band for more than a decade. But Billy Jeans says despite the loose theme of Gigantic Sike, Mean Jeans isn’t going anywhere. “How do you function as a band when you live in three different cities?” he asks. “You gotta wing it. Make up the rules as you go. We never had band practice when we were all in Portland, so what our new strategy presupposes is, maybe that’s punk?” Maybe it is Maybe punk doesn’t even exist anymore in 2019 maybe its just a value or a nostalgia trip you like taking, who knows. Maybe its all things to all men and as long as there are bands like Mean Jeans knocking out snappy two to three minute punk rock tunes the world is still spinning and is still a pretty neat place to live. Party on dudes
Buy Gigantic Sike Here
Author: Dom Daley
The band head out on a nice tour of North America with the awesome Clowns and Teenage Bottlerockets
catch them at-
·06 Sep in Fort Worth, TX, US @ MASS (Fat Tour)
·07 Sep in Oklahoma City, OK, US @ 89th St (Fat Tour)
·08 Sep in Kansas City, MO, US @ Riot Room (Fat Tour)
·09 Sep in St. Louis, MO, US @ Fubar (Fat Tour)
·10 Sep in Omaha, NE, US @ Lookout Lounge (Fat Tour)
·11 Sep in Green Bay, WI, US @ Lyric Room (Fat Tour)
·12 Sep in Milwaukee, WI, US @ Company Brewing w/ Clowns
·13 Sep in Minneapolis, MN, US @ Turf Club (Fat Tour)
The 40th-anniversary of the Ramones’ first live album, ‘It’s Alive’, will be marked on Sept. 20 with the release of a six-disc version containing three unreleased concert recordings from the same tour. The benchmark for all live albums ‘Its Alive’ was always going to follow previous Ramones albums with the book style Rhino treatment and welcome it is too.
A previously unreleased version of “Blitzkrieg Bop,” included in the four-CD/two-LP package, which is presented in a hardcover book. You can listen to the track here.