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Sunday, 28 May 2017

From The Vault: This Is Clarence Carter - Clarence Carter (Atlantic 1968)

This Is Clarence Carter - Clarence Carter
Produced by Rick Hall
Released 1968

(Turkish Release 1968)

This Is Clarence Carter
(Whoever uploaded this to You Tube added a couple of extra tracks at the end that were not on the original album or one the CD Reissue from 1996)

Side 1

Side 2

Singles on This Is Clarence Carter
Fame Records
Released April 1967
US Pop Charts #98
US R&B Chart #38

Released December 1967
US Pop Chart #62
US R&B Chart #20

Released April 1968
US Pop Chart #6
US R&B Chart #2

*When the single was released in the UK in June 1968 Funky Fever was the A-Side and Slip Away the B-Side.


Way back in 1970, when I was a little seven year old lad there was a song I heard on the radio that I really liked called Patches by a fella called Clarence Carter.
The song was actually his only ever hit in the UK reaching #2 on the Charts and in America it reached #4 on the Pop Charts (#2 on the R&B Chart). Patches was co-written by Ron Dunbar (who had worked closely with that brilliant team of writers Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland formerly of Motown Records) and General Norman Johnson (lead vocalist of the group Chairman of the Board). 

The song had appeared as a B-side to the Chairman of the Board single Everything's Tuesday, their third hit single and had been on their Debut Album Chairman of the Board (released in 1970 on Invictus).

I didn't really know much about Clarence Carter at all back then, and I'm not so sure I know a whole lot more about him now!

I was thinking about him this morning as I was reflecting upon the sad news of the passing of Greg Allman, because in 1988 The Greg Allman Band had released as a single a cover of Slip Away which had been a hit in 1968 for Clarence.

That in turn led me to go and dig out the Debut Album from Clarence Carter on which Slip Away was included and hence this post.

Clarence Carter was born blind in Alabama way back in 1936 and received his education at the Alabama School For The Blind (today known as the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind) and Alabama State College (now known as Alabama State University) graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music. The Alabama School for The Blind by the way is the same school that the vocal group The Blind Boys of Alabama hailed from (back then it was called Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind) and had begun singing together from the age of nine!
In 1961 he released his first single with his friend Calvin Scott called I Wanna Dance (But I Don't Know How) on the Fairline label, followed that up in 1962 with Goodnight Irene before moving over to Duke Records in 1963 and releasing I Like It and then a few other singles that went nowhere before joining  ATCO in 1965 with Step By Step. None of the singles charted.

Calvin Scott was seriously injured in a car accident and Clarence Carter decided to continue as a Solo Artist recording for the Fame label in November 1966 I Stayed Away Too Long (Tell Daddy, the B-side that was a hit on the R&B Chart), then in 1967 Thread The Needle (was a minor hit on the Pop Chart #98) and She Ain't Gonna Do Right.

Then in 1968 came the Debut Album and a further two hit singles (as well as a Christmas Hit Single with Back Door Santa). More charting singles would follow but none made the Top Thirty until Patches was released in 1970 which of course was his biggest success of his career.

He is still around having celebrated his 81st birthday in January this year and still plays live from time to time.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: In The City - The Jam (Debut Album)

In The City - The Jam
Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry
Released 20th May 1977
UK Chart #20

The Jam
    Paul Weller - vocals, guitars
    Bruce Foxton - bass, vocals
    Rick Buckler - drums

Single on In The City

In The City / Takin' My Love
Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry
Released April 1977
UK Chart #40


Just as Paul Weller was releasing his 13th Studio Solo Album in 2017 - A Kind Revolution - it was a reminder afresh that he has been around a long time and has undergone some interesting image changes down through the years and yet basically remaining himself!

Seven days after its release was the 40th Anniversary of the Debut Album from his former band The Jam

Like Dr. Feelgood, who I posted about a couple of days ago, The Jam were not really a Punk band as such but were very much considered as part of the ever growing scene in 1977. Where Dr. Feelgood looked like they had been dragged through a hedge backwards with their suits, The Jam actually looked pretty smart and nothing like an angry rock and roll band! If you saw a picture of them not knowing anything about them you might have assumed it was a band from the 1960s rather than 1977.

(The Jam in 1975 prior to Foxton joining - Brookes , Buckler and Weller)

The band had actually formed five years before when Weller and Co. were still at secondary school but the line-up did not become a stable one until the mid 70's when it consisted of Paul Weller (Bass), Steve Brookes (guitar), Bruce Foxton (guitar he joined in late 1975) and Rick Buckler (drums). In the early days the band were playing American rock and roll covers by the likes of Chuck Berry and Little Richard and it was only on discovering the My Generation album by The Who that a fascination with Mod culture began to take root within the band. Brookes left the band in 1976 and he was not replaced. Weller moved over to guitar and Foxton to bass and thus established the Classic three piece line-up of the band.

Coming from outside of London the band were treated with some suspicion among "the Punk Elite" but they worked hard to build an audience for themselves with a residency at the Red Cow in Hammersmith and The Nashville Rooms in West Kensington that drew more and more people each time they played. This no doubt drew the attention of Polydor Records who offered them a deal in February 1977. Paul Weller was 18 years old, still living with his folks on a Woking Council Estate.

The Jam were heavily influenced of course by bands like The Who, The Beatles, The Kinks and The Small Faces as well as Dr. Feelgood. Also add to that the Soul Music of Stax and Motown and clearly you could see they were very different to the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned.

Those influences would come out in their live performances and even as they begun recording their Debut Single and Album. Their Debut would be entitled In The City (which strangely enough was also the title of a song by The Who which had originally appeared as a B-Side to I'm A Boy released in 1966).

Included on the album was the Batman Theme which The Who had released on their Ready Steady Who EP in November 1966 (they would also later go back to this EP and take Disguises and record it for the B-Side of Funeral Pyre in 1981). The other cover on the album was Larry Williams' Slow Down (which The Beatles also used to perform).

Added to those two cover versions were ten songs from the pen of the young Paul Weller

The goal was to record the band and try and capture a little something of what they were doing in a live setting and these were the songs that they were playing night in and night out around the Capital and when they ventured further afield.
So, let's break the album down track by track.

Side 1

From the opening chords of Art School you just knew that you were listening to something that was rooted in the past but at the same time was totally a thing of the present day. Lyrically it was saying similar things to what the Sex Pistols were saying in their song I Wanna Be Me and showing the new sense of liberty that was to be found in the current scene and how in some ways it was similar to the art culture of the 1960s:

 "Anything that you wanna do, anyplace that you wanna go
Don't need permission for everything that you want
Any taste that you feel is right
Wear any clothes just as long as they're bright
Say what you want,
'cos this is a new art school
Do what you want, 'cos this is the new art school"

The R 'n' B feel of I've Changed My Address with the young Weller declaring "Couldn't see me settling down with a mortgage and a kid" must seem quite funny to him now that he's a father of seven kids! The guitar work on it though is outstanding even if the lyrics are a bit naff.

The cover of Slow Down is more akin to The Beatles cover that they recorded for their BBC Sessions than the original Larry Williams version. It was setting out their stall despite the fact that some in the scene around them were dismissing The Beatles (The Boys were one of the only other bands I knew of at the time who spoke of their great fondness for The Fab Four).

I Got By In Time was Weller writing about his best friend when he was younger, former member of the band Steve Brookes. I'm sure many of us can testify to having a similar experience with former friends! Things don't always go the way we wish them to go and all you can do is get on with living..."I Got By In Time":

"Saw a guy that I used to know
Man he'd changed so much
I think it hurt him to say 'hello',
'Cause he hardly opened his mouth
Yeah well he was my best friend a few years ago
Truly inseperable
We were young and full of ideals
We were gonna rule this whole world
But something happened I didn't know why
But that's the way that it goes"

By the way, on this one I really love Rick Buckler's drumming.

Away From The Numbers is one of my all-time favourite songs by The Jam. The song is about Weller's disatisfaction with his surroundings and the crowd ("the numbers") he was hanging about with and how he needed to "break away and gain control" of his life "so this link's breaking away from the chain":

"I was sick and tired of my little niche
Well gonna break away and find where life is
And all those fools I thought were my friends
(coaching is easy)
They now stare at me and don't see a thing
(reality's so hard)
Till their life is over and they start to moan
How they never had the chance to make good"

The Batman Theme as I mentioned above was a clear influence from The Who, and The Jam version is clearly on a different level as it is way faster and manic sounding and in step with the times.

Side 2

Side 2 kicks off with the title track and single In The City. Although not as big a hit as they would have liked, getting on Top of the Pops was huge for them (one of the first Punk/New Wave bands to appear) and that was the day before the album was released! The NME when reviewing the single had declared:

"'In The City' is the most convincing British penned teenage anthem I've heard in a Very Long Time - perhaps since the halycon days of the '60s."

Sounds from the Street was like a declaration and a defence of who he and his band were:

"I know I come from Woking and you say I'm a fraud
But my heart's in the city, where it belongs" 

It was Weller being honest about himself and about the music of The Jam: "It's something new, it's something young for a change". And there were harmonies on it! You wouldn't get that on a Pistols or Clash record! 😏

 "Sounds from the street, they sound so sweet
They gotta take notice
Why should they stop us? We don't need them
We're never gonna change a thing
And the situation's rapidly decreasing
But what can I do?
I'm trying to be true
That's more than you, at least I'm doing something"

I liked that about Weller, "I'm trying to be true". I don't know why he felt the need to try and justify himself and his place in the scene. The music the band were playing clearly showed that they had something to say and that it was finding a place within the hearts and minds who were becoming fans. Sometimes with the likes of The Pistols and The Clash you got the feeling that they were trying to be what Malcom and Bernie, their managers, wanted them to be rather than being themselves (of course I'm sure they would deny that). 

Non-Stop Dancing - Weller's ode to Northern Soul All-Nighters:

 "Cause when you're dancing all night long
It gives you the feeling that you belong"

Belonging was something that many of us were looking for back then, and whilst I have to confess that Northern Soul was not something I listened to then (in the past couple of decades or so I have heard a lot that I do like though), and I have never been to such an All-Nighter. I did know a little something of how casting your lot in with a particular style of music gave you that sense of belonging though and that was what I took out of the song for me!

Time For Truth - politics was something Weller even in his younger days never shyed away from and here he tackles the incompetence of the Labour Party ("Uncle Jimmy" being James Callaghan the leader of the party and Prime Minister at the time) and also the drifting towards  "a police state /So you can rule our body and minds" and the Police brutality that led to the Murder of Liddle Towers (a theme that was current in a number of bands at the time and the following years - see this post from last month where I talk a little about the whole Liddle Towers situation). Weller made it abundantly clear what his whole perspective of the situation and the remedy was!:

"I bet you sleep at night with silk sheets and a clean mind
While killers roam the streets in numbers dressed in blue
And you're trying to hide it from us
But you know what I mean
Bring forward those six pigs
We wanna see them swing sod high"

Takin' My Love - was the B-Side to the Debut single and is actually an older song, written in 1973 (a co-write with Steve Brookes - though he is uncredited for one reason or another) though you'd never guess it was four years old! There is a little touch of Dr. Feelgood about it only more energetic!

The album ends with Bricks and Mortar. Another speaking of the disaffection of the times when the Government was "pulling down houses and build(ing) car parks" and "While hundreds are homeless they're constructing a parking space" - seen in today's light you could say things haven't changed that much as they are still "pulling down houses" to build high speed railways or demolishing villages in order to put a new runway in at the airport. Bricks and Mortar over people who are struggling with real needs and having their benefits cut, or being homeless and a lack of Social Affordable Housing for them to go and live in, or a declining National Health Service that is badly in need of serious help but the Government can find money to fund the building of Nuclear Submarines or pay millions for the restoration of the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, it's like they are saying, "hey what's a few thousand starving people who can rely on a food bank to help them as long as we can bring in the tourists and fill the coffers! Bricks and Mortar"...I tend to be in agreement with Weller on this one, the Government needs a right perspective. People matter more than buildings and people's health, education and personal security of a home are far more vital than spending millions tarting up a Palace! ..."Knock 'em down!"

Monday, 22 May 2017

40 Years Old: Sneakin' Suspicion - Dr. Feelgood (May 1977)


🌟🌟🌟🌟 ½
Sneakin' Suspicion - Dr. Feelgood
United Artists
Produced by Bert de Coteaux
Released May 1977
UK Chart #10

Side 1

Side 2

Dr. Feelgood
    Lee Brilleaux - vocals, guitar, harmonica, slide guitar
    Wilko Johnson - guitar, backing vocals
    John B. Sparks - bass guitar, backing vocals
    The Big Figure - drums, percusison, backing vocals

Additional Musician:
    Tim Hinkley - keyboards

Single on Sneakin' Suspicion

Lights Out

Sneakin' Suspicion
United Artists
Produced by Bert de Coteaux
Released 6th May 1977
UK Chart #47


In 1976 two albums were released that came from bands hailing from Canvey Island that both had a huge impact upon me. The first was Teenage Depression by Eddie and The Hot Rods and the second, a live album called Stupidity by Dr. Feelgood. Both of these albums led the way for me to listening to Punk and New Wave. Neither of course were a Punk band but they had enough attitude between them to put the young Punks in their place!

Teenage Depression (November 1976) only made it to #43 which was not too bad I guess for a Debut Album.

Stupidity was a #1 album...okay, only for a week, but still a #1! That was 16 places better than their previous album Malpractice (#16 - October 1975) and a whole lot more places than their debut album Down By The Jetty (Did not Chart - January 1975).

Sneakin' Suspicion was the Feelgoods third Studio Album and sadly it would be the last to feature the Iconic Guitarist (yep, even back then!) Mr Wilko Johnson. After six years with the band, he left (according to the band, though Wilko himself says he was kicked out) after a disagreement about what tracks were to be included on the album (not totally sure of the truth that it was the inclusion of the Lew Lewis track Lucky Seven that caused the rift but I did hear that ages ago and cannot confirm whether it is true or not as both Lew and Wilko would later do some work together) and was replaced temporarily with Henry McCullough (who had been in Wings - though he left prior to the recording sessions for Band on The Run - and The Frankie Miller Band) before the permanant replacement by Gypie Mayo (who would serve with the band until 1981).

Half of the songs on the album were written by Wilko and Sneakin' Suspicion as well as Paradise are still regarded as two of his finest tunes (along with a truckload from the first two albums!). 

The remaining five tracks were covers: Nothin' Shakin' (But The Leaves On The Trees) was first released in 1958 by Eddie Fontaine on the Sunbeam label. 

Lights Out is another originally released in 1958 by Jerry Byrne on the Specialty label. The song has been recorded by loads of other artists (Shakin' Stevens and The Sunsets had released a version of it in 1970 on the Debut Album A Legend - Parlaphone. Pre-Motors' Nick Garvey released it as a B-Side to the Debut and only single by The Snakes). I didn't connect it until a few years ago that one of the writers, Mac Rebennack, was actually the famous New Orleans Blues, Jazz and Zydeco Musician Dr John!

Lucky Seven was written by fellow Canvey Islander Lew Lewis (he had played with Eddie and the Hot Rods before going on to form his own bands). He would release the song himself a year later on Stiff Records - LEW1).

You'll Be Mine was written by the great Willie Dixon and was released on Chess Records in 1962 by Howlin' Wolf .

The last cover, and indeed the final track on the album is a Bo Diddley song that was released on the Checker label in 1964. The song had also been covered by Georgie Fame and The Harry South Big Band (1966), The Ugly Ducklings (1966), The Pretty Things, Rory Gallagher, The Missing Links (Aussie Garage Band from the 60's), Paul and Barry Ryan, and no doubt by many more folks also.

Wilko Johnson Playing His Songs From Sneakin' Suspicion

Sneakin' Suspicion - Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey (Live at Shepherds Bush Emprire 2014).

Sneakin' Suspicion - Wilko Johnson Band (Live at Ripley Town Hall 2007).

Paradise - Wilko Johnson (from the 1991 album
Don't Let Your Daddy Know)

Paradise - Wilko Johnson Band (Live Barcelona 2016).

At a time when voices within the Punk Scene were decrying anything from the past (though those that seemed to be shouting the loudest drew quite a few tracks from the past to beef up their live sets, mentioning no names at all...ahem...the Sex Pistols! 😏) Dr. Feelgood drew upon it to bring fresh life to what are actually some brilliant songs. It's funny because although Dr. Feelgood were not a Punk band I actually knew loads of Punks who loved them.

I have a lot to thank bands like Dr. Feelgood, The Blues Band and 9 Below Zero for, as they were partly responsible for my tracking down a lot of Blues material I might never have heard of had they not been covering it, and to this day I still love listening to the Blues.

So 40 years down the road from its release it is actually an album I still have a lot of love for and cannot even imagine how many times I have played it (or how many copies of it I have had in one format or another) down through the years. Playing it earlier today as I begun putting this together was a real delight. It still sounds great and is worth a spin or two more in the coming weeks.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Revisiting Animal Boy - Ramones (1986)

Animal Boy - Ramones
Beggars Banquet/Sire
Produced by Jean Beauvoir
Released 19th May 1986
US Chart #143
UK Chart #38

Side A

Side B

    Joey Ramone – Lead vocals (all but Love Kills and Eat The Rat)
    Johnny Ramone – Lead guitar
    Dee Dee Ramone – Bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (Love Kills, Eat The Rat)
    Richie Ramone – Drums, backing vocals

Additional musicians
    Walter Lure - extra guitar (on some tracks)

Singles On Animal Boy
UK Releases 
(There are Lots of Links Down Below so click on them to listen to further tunes from the band)

Released June 1985
7" and 12" Vinyl
UK Chart #81

Released April 1986
7" and 12" Vinyl
UK Chart #69

On the UK and  The Netherlands Release (You) Can't Say Anything Nice (written by Richie Ramone) was the second B-Side on the 12" version. 

 A-Side: Something To Believe In

B-Side: Animal Boy
US Single
Did Not Chart

A-Side: Crummy Stuff
Released July 1986
7" and 12" Vinyl
UK Chart #98 

*The band filmed a special video for the song.

It had been just a little over 20 years since the Ramones released their Debut Self-Titled Album and in May 1986 they unleashed their 9th Studio Album, Animal Boy.

On the previous release, 1984's Too Tough To Die, the band had made one of their finest albums in a long time returning to a much edgier Punk sound than the previous "Pop" geared albums of Pleasant Dreams and Subterranean Jungle (both most surprisingly did not chart in the UK but did so in the US). There was a certain amount of expectation about the follow-up album as to whether it could live up to what had gone before. With former member of The Plasmatics, Jean Beauvoir on board as Producer it looked hopeful!

Eleven months prior to the release of the album, in June 1985, came the single Bonzo Goes To Bitburg. Sources at the Ramones' U.S. label, Sire Records, and its parent company, Warner Bros. Records, gave differing reasons for not releasing the single in America: The Sire products manager said the decision was "both financial and political"; an anonymous Warner Bros. source claimed, "It just wasn't considered a good enough record." Clearly that person from Warner Bros didn't have a clue what he was talking about! The band had never released a single before that was so Political and it was an outright attack upon sitting President Ronald Reagan.

"Better call, call the law
When you gonna turn yourself in? Yeah
You're a politician
Don't become one of Hitler's children"

The song was written in reaction to the visit paid by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to a military cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany, on May 5, 1985. Reagan laid a wreath at the cemetery and then gave a public address at a nearby air base. The visit was part of a trip paying tribute to the victims of Nazism and celebrating West Germany's revival as a powerful, democratic ally of the U.S.

Reagan's plan to visit the Bitburg cemetery had been criticized in the United States, Europe, and Israel because among the approximately 2,000 German soldiers buried there were 49 members of the Waffen-SS, the combat arm of the SS, which committed many other atrocities. Among those vehemently opposed to the trip were Jewish and veterans' groups and both houses of the U.S. Congress. The phrase "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" was coined by protesters in the weeks leading up to Reagan's trip. Employed as an epithet for Reagan, Bonzo is actually the name of the chimpanzee title character in Bedtime for Bonzo, a 1951 comedy starring Reagan. The phrase also echoes the title of the film's sequel, Bonzo Goes to College (1952), though Reagan did not appear in that picture.

Before departing for Germany, Reagan ignited more controversy when he expressed his belief that the soldiers buried at Bitburg "were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps." In his remarks immediately after the cemetery visit, Reagan said that "the crimes of the SS must rank among the most heinous in human history", but noted that many of those interred at Bitburg were "simply soldiers in the German army... There were thousands of such soldiers for whom Nazism meant no more than a brutal end to a short life."

Discussing the inspiration for the song, Ramones lead singer Joey Ramone, a Jew, explained that the President "sort of shit on everybody." Interviewed in 1986, he said,

"We had watched Reagan going to visit the SS cemetery on TV and were disgusted. We're all good Americans, but Reagan's thing was like forgive and forget. How can you forget six million people being gassed and roasted?"

(The above section regarding the backdrop to writing the song was "borrowed" from Wikipedia! - Doug)

The song title was changed for the album to My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) apparently to placate Johnny Ramone, who was a staunch conservative and fervent supporter of Ronald Reagan (and George W. Bush years later!).

Then in April 1986 came what I think is one of the Ramones best singles ever, and infact what I consider to be their best song - Something To To Believe In (I know, a lot of people will complain about that one!) and the other A-Side being Richie Ramone's Somebody Put Something In My Drink. The second track was also a song written by Richie and it is him singing on it. Joey Ramone supported Richie's vocal and songwriting contributions: "Richie's very talented and he's very diverse... He really strengthened the band a hundred percent because he sings backing tracks, he sings lead, and he sings with Dee Dee's stuff. In the past, it was always just me singing for the most part...I encouraged Richie to write songs. I figured it would make him feel more a part of the group, because we never let anybody else write our songs."

I remember when Sheena Is A Punk Rocker was released in the UK as a single back in May 1977 and reading the Single Review in the NME by Charles Shaar Murray who said: 

"Look, all The Ramones songs sound like hit singles and then don't sell, but this song is so flat-out delightful that not even the nasty boring dull-as-bleedin' dishwater Republic will be able to resist it. The sheer charm of and essential niceness of Dolly Ramone's four horrible sons is gonna win out." 

I so wish Charlie's words had come true because he was perfectly spot on. Whilst Sheena became their first charting single in the US and the UK there was a decade of Single releases that followed which either failed to chart or crawled into the lower basement of the Charts (the only exception being Baby, I Love You which peaked at #8 - and wasn't even a Ramones song!). Here was another single, a Double A-Sided release in Something To Believe In / Somebody Put Something In My Drink that screamed LOUDLY HIT RECORD!...but it wasn't, just barely crept into the Top 70 (squeaking in at #69)! As I said above, Something To Believe In is my favourite Ramones song EVER! I love the video they did for it when it was reissued as the B-Side of Crummy Stuff (which only charted at #98 in the UK). A co-write between Dee Dee Ramone and Jean Beauvoir it stands as one of those great "hopeful" Ramones songs (and yes there are more than a few of them!). :

"I can't be someone else
I don't feel that it's hopeless
I don't feel that I'm useless

I can't throw it all away
I need some courage to find my weakness
And with your love, I know with all my heart I can win"

The song was later recorded by The Pretenders shortly before the death of Johnny Ramone. He produced the song and it was included on the We're A Happy Family: A Tribute to Ramones album.

When the album arrived it was not quite I expected, and although it went higher in the charts than Too Tough To Die, it was nowhere near as good! It does have a few great moments besides the Singles that were included: Animal Boy penned by Dee Dee and JohnnyShe Belongs To Me - which I had first thought must have been a Joey song because it has a lot of the elements of 60's Pop that the singer seemed to love, but it was actually written by Dee Dee. Mental Hell - a Joey song that seems to have captured a lot of his own personal dysfunction!

Even after 31 years I still can't get to grips with a lot of the other songs on the album. I know it seems like some kind of "musical blasphemy" to some to be critical of a band that they like (and hey, I not only liked 'em but loved them also!) and that one is to assume that everything they released is the best thing ever since sliced bread, but you have to be realistic about things. If a song is not good what's the point in defending it to the hilt?

I never ever liked Love Kills (I know quite a few people who totally love it) as I was never enamoured by the whole Sid and Nancy scene that developed after their deaths. Apeman Hop, Crummy Stuff, Eat The Rat, Freak of Nature and Hair of the Dog will never ever turn up on my favourites list of Ramones songs. As it is my blog I feel that I can get away with saying that and when it all comes down to it what music we like or dislike comes down to personal taste so if you actually like these songs then I am fine with that (I wouldn't pretend to understand why you do though) but to me they were just filler, nothing special about them at all. Basically half the album's tracks I liked and the rest I can't be bothered with. The first two Singles offered some hope that it was going to be another cracker but sadly it didn't live up to the expectation for me! The tracks that I have mentioned that I like from the album are ones that I still do play quite a bit even all these years on.

Making it his pick for "album of the week", New York Times critic Jon Pareles wrote that the Ramones "speak up for outcasts and disturbed individuals", (even when we may not agree with everything they release! - Doug).

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