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Monday, 26 September 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 270 - Madness


Absolutely - Madness
Stiff Records
Produced by Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley 
Released 26th September 1980
UK Chart #2
US Chart #146



A1 Baggy Trousers
A2 Embarrassment    
A3 E.R.N.I.E.    
A4 Close Escape    
A5 Not Home Today    
A6 On The Beat Pete    
A7 Solid Gone    
B1 Take It Or Leave It    
B2 Shadow Of Fear    
B3 Disappear    
B4 Overdone    
B5 In The Rain    
B6 You Said    
B7 Return Of The Los Palmas 7

Personnel
Madness

    Graham McPherson (Suggs) – lead vocals; percussion
    Mike Barson (Monsieur Barso) – piano; organ; vibraphone; marimba; harmonica
    Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) – guitars; sitar; slide guitar
    Lee Thompson (Kix) – tenor; baritone saxophones
    Daniel Woodgate (Woody) – drums; fire extinguisher
    Mark Bedford (Bedders) – bass guitars
    Cathal Smyth (Chas Smash) – backing vocals; trumpet; lead vocals on "Solid Gone"

Singles on Absolutely
September 1980
UK Chart #3

The Business was the instrumental version of Take It or Leave It

In 1981 Madness released a film called Take It or Leave It. In October 2013 it was reissued as a CD/DVD package.

November 1980
UK Chart #4

January 1981
UK Chart #7

*********************
Almost a year after the successful Debut Album One Step Beyond had smashed its way to the number 2 spot on the charts Madness released their second album Absolutely that would contain a further three Top Ten Singles.

Hard to believe but where there had been a lot of enthusiasm for the Debut Absolutely was not a hit among all critics (as I've said often, "what on earth do they know?") but to the people that mattered, ie The Record Buying Public, they bought enough of it to also take it to #2 on the UK album chart.

I had to giggle a little at the ignorance of Rolling Stone magazine, who were not huge fans of the ska revival and infact were quite scathing ("The Specials wasn't very good") , and only awarded the album 1 out 5 stars.  They declared that Madness were simply "the Blues Brothers with English accents". I was particularly grieved to discover that the words had been penned by a writer that I'd actually enjoyed a lot, Greil Marcus! I guess there's just an Englishness about the album that cannot be comprehended even by the great Mr Marcus!

(Original Artwork)

The front cover sees the band standing in front of Chalk Farm tube station in Camden. When the original vinyl was released the first, more sombre, cover photograph was changed to a more animated pose after around 10,000 albums were pressed. The two sleeves can be distinguished by Mike Barson's holding of the umbrella: in the earlier pressing he holds it up to his chin while in the later, and subsequently used, releases the umbrella is on the ground. I don't think the album is worth a whole lot of money with the original cover though so you can't go planning that Caribbean Cruise!

As I said above there's a real Englishness about the songwriting of Madness that really came out on their first few albums. Baggy Trousers was a wee gem about schooldays. Suggs said, "I was very specifically trying to write a song in the style of Ian Dury, especially the songs he was writing then, which [were] often sort of catalogues of phrases in a constant stream". He contrasted "Baggy Trousers" with Pink Floyd's hit Another Brick in the Wall: "I was writing about my time at school. Pink Floyd had that big hit with 'teacher, leave those kids alone'. It didn't really relate to me, because I hadn't been to a public school where I was bossed about and told to sing 'Rule Britannia!' and all that".

John Reed in his magnificent book House of Fun: The Story of Madness says of Baggy Trousers that it was "three minutes of unbridled pop ebullience which still resisdes to this day...From the opening sound of a school bell, the song tapped into the timesless images of schooldays in a long-standing tradition from the Jennings novels to the on-screen mishaps of St. Trinians and Will Hay, the Bash Street Kids' capers in the Beano or the BBC's latest hit TV series Grange Hill".

Embarrassment was written by Lee Thompson and the music by Mike Barson. Racism is not the type of thing you often hear being sung about in a pop song and for some people it was a reality they experienced daily. I often think of my own Sister when I hear the song because there were elements of it that were a part of her experience as well. The plot of the song reflected the unfolding turmoil following the news that his teenage sister, Tracy Thompson, had become pregnant and was carrying a black man's child. The subsequent rejection by her family, and the shame felt, was reflected in the song.

It was a brave choice of single for a band who had been seen as a mere novelty band and it paid off by giving the band their third Top 5 hit!

E.R.N.I.E. (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) was not a cover of that novelty hit by Benny Hill Ernie The Fastest Mikman in the West, but was an ode to the Premium Bond! If you don't know what that is you can read a little bit of the history of it here.

Madness were keen to not make a One Step Beyond MKII. "We were concious of not making a carbon copy of the debut. Like The Specials, we were always aware we needed to move on with each album" (Suggs).

There was some carry over from the Debut with Close Escape which picked up where In The Middle of the Night left off with the character now seen as a phone call pest.

Shadow of Fear spoke about the paranoia of life in London; Not Home Today dealt with the issue of families who make up excuses to cover up the fact that one of their children is has been sent to Borstal or Prison; On The Beat Pete was a spotlight into the world of a local Bobby (Policeman).

A quality little album and one that is guaranteed to but a smile on your face whilst listening to it...and if you can only sit still whilst listening to it then I'd ask someone to check your pulse to see in fact if you are alive or not!


Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 269 - Aztec Camera

Love - Aztec Camera
WEA
Produced by Tommy LiPuma, Russ Titelman, Roddy Frame, David Frank, Michael Jonzun, Rob Mounsey
Released November 1987
UK Chart #10
US Chart #193

Tracklist
A1 Deep & Wide & Tall    
A2 How Men Are    
A3 Everybody Is A Number One    
A4 More Than A Law    
A5 Somewhere In My Heart    
B1 Working In A Goldmine    
B2 One & One    
B3 Paradise
B4 Killermont Street


Singles from Love


September 1987
UK Chart #79


Reissue October 1988
UK Chart #55



January 1988
 UK Chart #25



Somewhere In My Heart / Everybody Is A Number One (Boston '86 Version)
April 1988
UK Chart #3



July 1988
UK Chart #31

******************
Three years after the Mark Knopfler Produced album Knife, where Roddy Frame had said that he intentionally wrote songs with a sound that he thought the Dire Straits frontman could work with, Roddy Frame was back in the spotlight with a new album.

Still under the banner of Aztec Camera (Frame being the only member of the band) the third album Love was an interesting little beast. Written with a clear aim of breaking America (the album was recorded in America against the wishes of his label) and with big name Producers, it was Frame's take on R&B/Pop.

The first single that arrived a month before the album - Deep & Wide & Tall - was an almost funky tune and at first I wasn't too taken with it. The B-Side was of far greater interest to me - Bad Eduction - a song that was originally performed by Manchester band The Blue Orchids

The second How Men Are is one of those quality songs that only Roddy Frame could write. If the B-Side on the previous single was an interesting one then a rendition of The Red Flag was a very strange choice indeed!

The next single and the one that propelled the album up the charts - Somewhere In My Heart - Frame said in 2014 that the song has been "great" for him, but at the time of creating the album, the song was not "in keeping" with the rest of Love. Frame revealed in a radio interview with the "Soho Social" program, presented by Dan Gray, that he considered "Somewhere In My Heart" an odd song and initially thought it would be best as a B-side. Frame concluded, "I can't pick them [the successful songs]." It would become Aztec Camera's most successful single peaking at #3 on the UK Chart.

Working On A Goldmine was the final single from the album to appear in July 1988 (discounting a Reissue of Deep & Wide & Tall in October 1988) and was one of the first songs to be recorded for the Love album. It's another one that I really have grown to like over the years.

What about the rest of the songs on the Love album? Everybody is a Number One is a cheesy sound pop tune that still to this day doesn't impress me much. More Than A Law to me sounds a bit like Aztec Camera of old. One & One is an all out attempt at funk, there's elements of the song I like but overall it's not one my favourite Roddy Frame songs (though I do have to say that live in concert it sounded really good). Paradise is one of my favourite tracks on the album, love the little nod at the end to one of my favourite songs (If Paradise is) Half As Nice, a song that Roddy had actually recorded with Andy Fairweather Low. Lastly but in no way least, the majestic Killermont Street. Even recording in America Scotland was not far from the heart of Roddy Frame and this is one of my favourite of all his songs.

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Soundtrack4Life Concert Series: The Psychedelic Furs

Today's Concert Series post is from Germany and Broadcast as part of the Rockpalast Series on German TV in 1981and features The Psychedelic Furs in action.

The 14 song set feature a couple of tunes from what was to be their newest album Forever Now as well as songs from their first two albums.


Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 268 - The Psychedelic Furs

Forever Now - The Psychedelic Furs
CBS
Produced by Todd Rundgren
Released September 1982
UK Chart #20
US Chart #61


Forever Now (UK Version)
 UK Tracklist
A1 President Gas   
A2 Love My Way    
A3 Run And Run    
A4 Merry-Go-Round  
A5 Sleep Comes Down
B1 Forever Now    
B2 Danger
B3 Only You and I     
B4 Goodbye
B5 No Easy Street

Personnel
The Psychedelic Furs
    Richard Butler – vocals
    John Ashton – guitars
    Tim Butler – bass guitar
    Vince Ely – drums


Additional personnel
    Todd Rundgren – keyboards; saxophone; marimba
    Gary Windo – horns
    Donn Adams – horns
    Ann Sheldon – cello
    Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) – backing vocals

(US Cover)

Forever Now (US Version)


There was different Track Listing on the American Release

A1 Forever Now    
A2 Love My Way    
A3 Goodbye    
A4 Only You And I    
A5 Sleep Comes Down
B1 President Gas    
B2 Run And Run
B3 Danger    
B4 No Easy Street
B5 Yes I Do

Singles from Forever Now
Love My Way / Aeroplane (Dance Mix)
July 1982
UK Chart #42
US Chart #44

October 1982
Did Not Chart

May 1983
Did Not Chart

******************

After an absolutely pulsating debut album and then a tricky second album (Talk Talk Talk) Forever Now, their third Studio album in as many years was always going to be a challenge.

The challenge came from within as Sax player Duncan Kilburn and Guitarist Roger Morris left the band under a bit of a storm cloud! Steve Lilywhite was unavailable to produce after overseeing the duties on the first two albums and the band had been forced into the situation as a four piece, though there were also questions regarding the commitment of Drummer Vince Ely that forced the remaining three - John Ashton, Tim and Richard Butler - into creating some new music without the use of drums! I don't know the full extent of the issues regarding Ely but he's on the album but did depart the band after the recording had been completed.

Bringing Todd Rundgren on board as Producer was an interesting move and he added some new elements to their sound as well as bringing in Flo and Eddie to do backing vocals. The band were not too keen at first on this move but it's interesting to see that besides their work with The Turtles in the sixties, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention in the early seventies, they had sung back up on an interesting array of projects with the likes of T-Rex, Ray Manzarek, Roger McGuinn, David Cassidy (!), Keith Moon, Stephen Stills, Alice Cooper, Blondie and they had also sung backing on Hungry Heart by Springsteen!

Love My Way is probably the track that most people know of from the album and whilst it charted it was not a real smash hit, which is a shame really because in its essence it is an outstanding pop song.

Personally my favourite track on it is President Gas, it sounds more like the Furs that I know and love from the first couple of albums.

Tim Butler has said that Forever Now is his favourite album, I wouldn't go that far myself. It's good but the album that was to follow eight months later would be way much better (Mirror Moves).

A point about the difference between the UK and US editions of the album. Personally I don't understand this. Richard Butler says that when he first saw the replacement cover, he "actually burst into tears" and rightly so because it looks terrible and exceedingly drab in comparison with the explosion of colour of the UK release created by the late great Barney Bubbles (I must at some point do a post dedicated to the great Artwork of BB). Record Executives at Columbia clearly had no sense! Given the choice I would rather put the UK artwork on my wall because at least it actually looks like a piece of art!

The changes to tracklisting and sequence as well were uncalled for as that rush of sound with President Gas, Love My Way, and Run and Run on the UK edition is (I think) a much better way to kick off the album than Forever Now, Love My Way and Goodbye! Maybe you can make your own mind up by listening to them both above!

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Happy 67th Birthday Bruce Springsteen


So, how do you celebrate your 67th Birthday? Do it Boss style by releasing a "new" album and an autobiography!

The album, Chapter and Verse is the musical companion to the Autobiography Born To Run. The book is released on 27th September 2016 and the album is out today.

The Links are not necessarily the versions that appear on the album
 
1. Baby I — The Castiles (recorded May 2, 1966, at Mr. Music, Bricktown, NJ; written by Bruce Springsteen and George Theiss; previously unreleased)
2. You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover — The Castiles (recorded Sept. 16, 1967, at The Left Foot, Freehold, NJ; written by Willie Dixon; previously unreleased)
3. He's Guilty (The Judge Song) — Steel Mill (recorded Feb. 22, 1970, at Pacific Recording Studio, San Mateo, CA; previously unreleased)
4. Ballad of Jesse James — The Bruce Springsteen Band (recorded March 14, 1972, at Challenger Eastern Surfboards, Highland, NJ; previously unreleased)
5. Henry Boy (recorded June 1972, at Mediasound Studios, New York, NY; previously unreleased)
6. Growin' Up (recorded May 3, 1972, at Columbia Records Recordings Studios, New York, NY; previously appeared on 'Tracks')
7. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (1973, 'The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle')
8. Born to Run (1975, 'Born to Run')
9. Badlands (1977, 'Darkness on the Edge of Town')
10. The River (1980, 'The River')
11. My Father's House (1982, 'Nebraska')
12. Born in the U.S.A. (1984, 'Born in the U.S.A.')
13. Brilliant Disguise (1987, 'Tunnel of Love')
14. Living Proof (1992, 'Lucky Town')
15. The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995, 'The Ghost of Tom Joad')
16. The Rising (2002, 'The Rising')
17. Long Time Comin' (2005, 'Devils & Dust')
18. Wrecking Ball (2012, 'Wrecking Ball')


Australian TV Interview


Let's finish off with a show, here's one from a few years back

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Stockholm 
3rd May 2013

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 267 - 10,000 Maniacs

The Wishing Chair - 10,000 Maniacs
Elektra
Produced by Joe Boyd
Released 23rd September 1985
Did Not Chart

The Wishing Chair (with Two Bonus Tracks)


 Video Above is actually the CD Version of the Album that included two bonus tracks

 CD Track Listing
1  Can't Ignore The Train
2  Scorpio Rising
3  Just As The Tide Was A Flowing    
4  Lilydale    
5  Back O' The Moon    
6  Maddox Table
7  The Colonial Wing*    
8  Grey Victory*    
9  Among The Americans    
10 Everyone A Puzzle Lover
11 Cotton Alley
12 Daktari*    
13 My Mother The War    
14 Tension Makes A Tangle    
15 Arbor Day

*Not on the original Release

Singles on The Wishing Chair
(though some versions were re-recorded from the Original Single Versions)










*****************************


The Wishing Chair was the Major Label Debut from 10,000 Maniacs on Elektra Records. They had released their Debut EP Human Conflict Number Five in 1982 and Debut Album Secrets of the I Ching in 1983 on their own label Christian Burial Music.
Prior to the release of the album the band had recorded a Session for John Peel (like many bands at the time Peel was quite taken with them and had played My Mother The War a number of times on his show that led it to becoming a bit of an Indie Chart hit). It was recorded 23rd June 1985 and first broadcast 1st July 1985. The Session included Just As The Tide Was A' Flowin', Lily Dale, Maddox Table, and Back O' The Moon.

Now, whilst I was sort of aware of the band, I didn't really jump on board until the release of In My Tribe after a good friend had sent me a cassette from the States that included a few tracks from the album and I was instantly hooked by the voice of Natalie Merchant.

That meant then going on a search for the earlier material and was happy to have tracked down a few things and only in the past decade have managed to complete the collection of early material.

The Wishing Chair did not sell bucket loads, and didn't make the chart but it did put them on the map to wider audience and pave the way for a number of fairly successful albums that followed.

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Rewind: Love Bites - Buzzcocks (1978) - Updated and Expanded

This is a revised and expanded upon post from one that was done last year. There will be more links and information etc to enhance your listening pleasure.

I am particularly grateful to Richard Boon (one time manager of Buzzcocks) for some clarification on a couple of points that have puzzled me for a number of years.


 Love Bites - Buzzcocks
United Artists
Produced by Martin Rushent
Released 22nd September 1978
UK Chart #13


 Personnel
 Pete Shelley – lead guitar, lead vocals (all but Love Is Lies)
    Steve Diggle – rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing and lead vocals on Love Is Lies
    Steve Garvey – bass guitar
    John Maher – drums

An expanded version of the album called Love Bites (Special Edition - 2008) brought together the non-album singles (posted below) The Peel Sessions, Demos and a Live Show from The Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 21st July 1978.

Single from Love Bites
Ever Fallen In Love (with someone you shouldn't've) / Just Lust
 United Artists
Produced by Martin Rushent
Released 8th September 1978
UK Chart #12

 A-Side


B-Side


I had wondered for years who the mysterious co-writer of Just Lust A. Dial is and recently found out that it was none other than former Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon. I asked Richard about how this came about and here's what he said: 

"Peter and I had written together before ('Whatever Happened To?) - part of the overarching plan, such as it was, after signing to UA, to deliberately move out of 'punk' to 'pop' (B-side, 'Orgasm Addict') and make that shift apparent ('Pop' A-side 'What Do I Get?' backed by B-side 'Oh Shit!' Part of that plan was to make the B-sides to 'pop' A-sides more interesting (cf: 'Why Can't I Touch It'; 'Something's Gone Wrong Again,' etc) 'With 'Just Lust,' Pete had this rather awkward  guitar riff he wanted something to do with, but couldn't find lyrics for, himself, but he wanted to record. Would I help? Sure - then, once BCs had recorded the backing track, he phoned me from the studio to see if I'd finished lyrics, which I dictated to him over the phone. The 'Alan Dial' moniker refers back to the fact that I fell into that 'manager' role partly because I lived in a house in Salford with Howard that had a landline (remember them?) so I could book vans, rehearsal spaces, etc, and was the name I adopted for 'gigs' with The Negatives - a band who deliberately couldn't play: I couldn't play sax/clarinet; Paul Morley ('Modest Young') couldn't play guitar; Kevin Cummings couldn't play bass and drummer Merlin Motors (after his car-mechanic shop in Stockport) couldn't play drums. Weirdly, we actually did some gigs."

The 1994 CD Version of the Album also included:
30th June 1978
UK Chart #34

17th November 1978
UK Chart #20
*Earlier in 1978 Magazine, featuring former Buzzcocks lead vocalist Howard Devoto released one of the classic singles of the whole Punk/New Wave Scene in Shot By Both Sides. That released was credited to both Devoto and Pete Shelley. Come the release of the Promises single the B-Side Lipstick was sporting the same guitar riff as the Magazine track and this time it was just credited to Shelley. I had always had questions regarding that and no way of finding out until I took the chance to ask Richard Boon:

" there was a germ of a Devoto/Shelley tune before Howard wanted out of Buzzers to finish college, then put a different kinda outfit together, which became Magazine. But he wanted to use Pete's guitar line, as did McGeogh. Pete also, recognising a great guitar line wanted to use it too. So both did, to different ends. And both agreed to that."


********************

In March of 1978 Buzzcocks had released their debut album Another Music In A Different Kitchen and it reached #15 in the UK Album Charts. Six months down the road from that they released their second album (this was back in the day when many bands were still putting two albums out a year!).

A bit like Ramones Road To Ruin (released on the same day) this second album for Manchester's finest was a slight departure from their debut (not much but it was noticeable I think) but it was well received and went two places higher than the debut, peaking at #13.

In April 1978 Buzzcocks did a Session for John Peel (their second) and it included Noise Annoys and surprisingly two instrumentals - Walking Distance and Late for the Train. It was broadcast on the 17th April. Instrumentals were not something Punk/New Wave bands were known for but I have to say I was quite taken with Steve Garvey's Walking Distance right from the off. I wasn't so sure about Late For the Train. A further Session in October would include Sixteen Again, Everybody's Happy Nowadays, Lipstick and Promises.

The "Entertaining Friends" Tour in May-June 1978 saw the band out on the road with Penetration and it was no doubt that Pauline Murray and the band caught the idea to record a version of Nostalgia for their debut album Moving Targets that would be released a month after Love Bites.

The Love You More single held out some good thoughts that the next Buzzcocks album was going to be a real gem (though it in the end wasn't part of the original release of the album). 1min and 51secs of perfect pop, what more could you ask for?

Prior to the album release the band issued what would become one of their most successful singles of their career with Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've). It's also a song that has been covered by many different artists down through the years. Fine Young Cannibals had a massive #9 hit with it back in 1986 and much to the surprise of many Pete Yorn did a version that ended up on the Soundtrack to Shrek 2!

As for the album itself, well it's loaded with little gems from the pen of Pete Shelley mainly, though Steve Diggle contributed Love is Lies and Garvey the instrumental Walking Distance and of course the co-write of Just Lust with A. Dial spoken about above.

There was a more Pop/Punk sound to the album than the Debut and in many ways that was a good thing to show that the band were growing musically and were not content to repeat the old formula.

My favourite tracks on the album beside Ever Fallen In Love are Nostalgia, Sixteen Again, Nothing Left and E.S.P., I think Love Is Lies is probably the weakest song on the album. The acoustic guitar led Diggle tune is not one of his best in my opinion.

A number of my friends at the time the album was released were big fans of Buzzcocks but only really saw them as a Singles band (and there's no denying they made some classic singles) but I think that Shelley and Co. were responsible for making the Punk/New Wave album an acceptable thing again and their first three albums I think are a clear testimony of that very fact.


Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 266 - Ramones

Road To Ruin - Ramones
Sire
Produced by Tommy Erdelyi and Ed Stasium
Released 22nd September 1978
US Chart #103
UK Chart #32


A1 I Just Want To Have Something To Do
A2 I Wanted Everything
A3 Don't Come Close    
A4 I Don't Want You    
A5 Needles And Pins    
A6 I'm Against It    
B1 I Wanna Be Sedated    
B2 Go Mental    
B3 Questioningly    
B4 She's The One    
B5 Bad Brain    
B6 It's A Long Way Back

Personnel
    Joey Ramone – Lead vocals
    Johnny Ramone – Lead guitar
    Dee Dee Ramone – Bass guitar, Backing vocals
    Marky Ramone – Drums

Singles from Road To Ruin

    Don't Come Close / I Don't Want You
    Released 15th September 1978
UK Chart #39


Released as a Limited Edition Yellow Vinyl 12"


    Needles and Pins / I Wanted Everything
    Released February 1979
US Release


    She's the One / I Wanna Be Sedated
    Released 19th January 1979

 (Dutch Picture Sleeve)

I Wanna Be Sedated has been released a few times as a single in its own right.
In Scandanavia and the Netherlands it was released as an A-Side backed by I Don't Want You in 1979.

In 1980 by RSO Records in conjunction with the Soundtrack to the movie Times Square. It was backed with The Return of Jacky and Judy

In 1988 when Sire released the Ramones Mania Compilation it was issued as a single that featured the album version on the A-Side and on the B-Side the strangest Ramones track I've ever heard I Wanna Be Sedated (Ramones-on-45-Mega-Mix).

**************** 

 "Road to Ruin reflected not just the Ramone's enduring love for Sixties pop, but a nagging desire to expand beyond the confines of 120 seconds in search of a new vocabulary of harmonic hooks, albeit linked to the guitar-crunching sonics established on their first three albums."
— Tommy Ramone

Studio Album number four for the Ramones and the first one that Tommy had sat out of playing on. He put away his sticks in order to once again do what he had intended at the start and that was to produce the band.

Marc Bell, who had formerly played in Richard Hell and the Voidoids (he had played on the Blank Generation Album) and Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys (no, not that Backstreet Boys!) took over the Drum Stool. Three weeks after joining the band and becoming Marky Ramone the recording of Road To Ruin begun.

What should have been one of their biggest albums "was a flop Stateside, even though it had been a very deliberate attempt to secure American radioplay" (Tommy Ramone). Outside of their homeland it faired better as they reached their highest position in the UK album chart with it (#32, though End of the Century in 1980 would surpass that by peaking at #14). Critical acclaim for the album would be a long time coming though among the fans (especially the ones I know) it is looked upon quite fondly.

There was a more poppy sound to this album than the previous three, which was a topic for great discussion (and still is) among fans of the band. This has ballads and goodness me, is that Acoustic Guitars I can hear? Doesn't exactly sound what we envisage a punk rock album to be like! But, I have to say I do have a fondness for Road To Ruin. The only track I'm not overly keen on is Bad Brain (that one seems to be mentioned by loads of reviewers as a weak link). It does contain a few of their classic songs that have stood the test of time: I Just Want To Have Something To Do, I'm Against It, I Wanna Be Sedated and She's The One. Interesting choice of cover version as well -the Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche song Needles and Pins. The song had been a minor hit in the US for Jackie DeShannon in 1963 and then in 1964 it was a #1 single for The Searchers (and hit #13 in the US). I can understand why it was chosen because Joey especially had a real fondness for 1960's pop and whilst it was a bit leftfield for the Ramones I think they pulled it off great (it was a hundred times better than the version Smokie had done!).

If you had thought a more "mellower" Ramones in the studio would translate to a more "mellower" Ramones on stage then you would be clearly wrong. Nine days before the release of the album they were on the Musikladen TV show in Bremen, Germany where they performed a 24 song set that included 5 from the up and coming album.

(This is a revised and expanded post from last year with a lot more links)



Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!

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