Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Clarence Is a Punk: Vol. 1-2-3-4

18 months ago, I launched segment number one of a five-part piece on punk rock.  At this rate, you guys will have to write and read numbers four and five at my funeral.  In that piece, I ran through 25 punk rock classics from the 1970's.  Intentionally, I left out three individual bands worthy of their own post/playlist.  Here's a take on one of them . . .

Hey -- Ho -- Let's Go

The Ramones

Writing an excess of words on the band, while very Clarence, does not suit the Ramones. This is a band that crammed 5 minutes' worth of playing into two-minute songs for two decades.  Here's what you need to know, Cliffs Ramone style.

Essential Facts
  • Jeff Hyman, John Cummings, Doug Colvin, Tom Erdelyi, later Marc Bell and some others
  • Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky Ramone, et al
  • Supposedly "Ramones" had a link to Paul McCartney checking into hotels as Paul Ramon.  Also possibly linked to producer Phil Ramone.  Probably neither so much as just a random choice of a universal surname for all band members.
  • Joey was on drums at first.  Tommy was the manager, then he took over behind the kit and Joey went out front.  Good call, dudes.
  • Have you see Joey Ramone up close?  And considering how shy he was, he was a less likely candidate for successful frontman than Stipe, Ian Curtis, and Andy Partridge put together.
  • The Ramones' eponymous debut was released in 1976.  It makes the G:TB list of best debut albums of all time.  
  • Johnny Ramone stole Joey's girlfriend and married her.  This was never really resolved.
  • Johnny Ramone was staunchly conservative in his political leanings.  Joey was diametrically opposed.  This mattered when it came to occasional lyrical content like in "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg."
  • Dee Dee was the only original who really did many drugs.  Way many.
  • Joey died in 2001 from lymphoma. Dee Dee finally OD'ed in 2002. Johnny succumbed to prostate cancer in 2004.  Tommy died last year from bile duct cancer.  Name another rock and roll band whose founding members are all deceased.  I know of two.  Because I googled it.
Essential Viewing: End of the Century - The Story of the Ramones.  One of my favorite rockumentaries ever.  Watch it.

Essential Listening: I bought Mania when it came out in 1988, then eventually went back to the first album and started working my way through from the beginning.  Not a bad way to do it, and it may be how everyone is doing it.  Mania was the only certified gold record The Ramones had, ludicrous as it seems to me.  Until last year -- when Ramones went gold, 38 years after its release.  Hundreds of years from now, watch for sales of Too Tough to Die to skyrocket.

In the meantime, here's Clarence's take on the music.  Come on, let's rock and roll with the Ramones.

What You Already Know
(or you damn well should)
1. "Blitzkrieg Bop," Ramones 1976
Hey Ho Let's Go

2. "I Wanna Be Sedated," Road to Ruin 1978
Hurry hurry hurry, before I go loco

3. "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," Rocket to Russia 1977
New York City really has it all

4. "Rock & Roll High School," End of the Century, 1980
I just wanna get some chicks

5. "Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?" End of the Century, 1980
'Cause lately it all sounds the same to me

What You May Well Know
1. "We're a Happy Family," Rocket to Russia 1977
Siting here in Queens / Eating refried beans

2. "The KKK Took My Baby Away," Pleasant Dreams, 1981
Ring me ring me ring me up the President / And find out where my baby went

3. "Pinhead," Leave Home, 1977
Gabba gabba hey

 4. "Rockaway Beach," Rocket to Russia 1977
The sun is out, and I want some

5. "Pet Sematary," Brain Drain, 1989
I don't want to live my life again

Brilliance in Under Two Minutes
1. "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," Ramones, 1976 - 1:36
All the kids want somethin' to do
[This might be the perfect rock song. It's like it sired "Wasted" by Black Flag.]

2. "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment," Leave Home, 1977 - 1:43
Peace and love is here to stay

3. "Cretin Hop," Rocket to Russia 1977 - 1:59
There's no stoppin' the cretins from hoppin'

Top Ramones Covers
1. "California Sun," The Rivieras
2. "Surfin' Bird," The Trashmen
3. "Let's Dance," Chris Montez
4. "Needles and Pins," Jackie DeShannon
5. "Spiderman," TV Cartoon

3 Good Ramones Songs That Aren't Very Ramones-y
1. "Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La), Too Tough to Die, 1985
I want to steal from the rich and give to the poor

2. "Danny Says," End of the Century, 1980
Listening to Sheena on the radio
Phil Spector... uh...

3. "She Talks to Rainbows," Adios Amigos! 1994
She talks to trees / She talks to bees / She don't talk to me
Bizarrely silly lyrics, but I really like this tune a lot.

Also: "Something to Believe In," Animal Boy, 1986
If people weren't such dicks and I never made mistakes / Then I could find forgiveness
I don't love the song, but a video worth watching, Ramones Aid, a USA for Africa parody with guest stars.

JDGRS (Just Damn Good Ramones Songs)
Teenage Lobotomy Psycho Therapy 53rd & 3rd Bop 'Til You Drop I Remember You Chinese Rock Too Tough to Die Garden of Serenity Beat On the Brat Glad to See You Go I Want You Around Havana Affair 
At the Boathouse in Norfolk

Clarence's All-Time Favorites
(In addition to several of the above)

1. "Judy Is a Punk," Ramones, 1976
Perhaps they'll die, oh yeah

2. "Commando," Leave Home, 1977
Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salamis
1:55 of pure punk rock, kicked off with vintage Dee Dee 1-2-3-4.

3.  "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," Rocket to Russia 1977
Someone had to pay the price
Dispelling misconceptions that all Ramones songs are frenetic punk with shallow content . . .

4.  "I Just Wanna Have Something to Do," Road to Ruin 1978
Hanging out on Second Avenue / Eating chicken vindaloo
. . . but some are, and they are excellent.

5. "We Want the Airwaves," Pleasant Dreams, 1981
Mr. Programmer / I got my hammer / and I'm gonna Smash my / Smash my / Radio

6. "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg (My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down)," Animal Boy 1986
As I watched it on TV somehow it really bothered me

7. "Somebody Put Something In My Drink," Animal Boy 1986
Tanqueray and tonic's my favorite drink / I don't like anything colored pink / That just stinks
Inspired the Random idiots song "Someone Slipped a Mickey in My 27th Beer."

8. "I Wanna Live," Halfway to Sanity, 1987
As I execute my killers / The morning is near
But here's all you really need.


mr kq said...

Looks like Hymen missed Blister in the Sun on his list.

TR said...

Are you referring to Buster?

mr kq said...

But of course.

TR said...

Nathan Eovaldi perfect through 4!

rob said...

listening to a ton of first wave on sirius xm the past few days on a family road trip to/from myrtle beach. they love the ramones on that station. and the pretenders, which is another thing altogether.

Clarence said...

I love First Wave, but sometimes they only dig so deep. Is most of what you have heard the songs under What You Already Know?

rob said...

that, and rockaway beach

rob said...

mark, z: my 13 year-old has decided that she's a big childish gambino fan. i assume i should be cool with this. but is he any good?

Squeaky said...

Check out the Cloud Nothings for a little modern day punk. I'd start with their second album. And the new Titus Andronicus is sprawling and epic in places.

My soon to be 7 year old is only inviting seven girls to his birthday party, as opposed to 15 boys. I know that combined number is ridiculously high at least to me but I digress, I asked him why only seven girls. His response, "They are girlfriends of some of the boys he invited". I think he is gunning for 'wingman of year' in the 10 and under category.

Squeaky said...

And Clarence thanks for the Ramones, recommendation. I'll have to listen to some of their music.

rob said...

this is not from the onion:

Deez Nuts, the Independent candidate from Iowa, is polling at 9 percent in North Carolina for President of the United States.

zman said...

rob, you'll probably better recognize Childish Gambino as Donald Glover based on his roles on "Girls" and "Community." I haven't spent much time listening to his music aside from the occasional video on a music blog but my sense is that he's a witty guy with a sense of humor. I'm not sure if his music is appropriate for a 13-year-old but I'm not really sure what is.