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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A New Appreciation for The Ramones Part 4

Work began on the ninth studio album in December 1985. After working with Tommy on 'Too Tough to Die' and reclaiming some lost ground in true Ramones logic they dispensed with his services and brought in Jean Beauvoir (formerly of The Plasmatics). Joey was still in a writing slump and only wrote two for the new project ('Mental Hell' and 'Hair of the Dog') and Dee Dee was proficient as ever and even Richie got in on the act contributing 'Somebody Put Something in My Drink'.

The three best songs on the album ('Something to Believe In', 'My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)' and Richie's 'Somebody Put Something') make up for quite a disappointing album.

Apparently Johnny hated this as he thought Reagan had been the best President the States had had for years. Joey wrote the song in response to Reagan's visit to a German cemetery containing SS graves. As a compromise with Johnny the song title was changed for the album. Johnny was even refused to play it live (though it does turn up on set lists as the video below proves)

The video for 'Something to Believe In' is fantastic and quite possibly my favourite of all their promo videos.

The rest of the tracks never really reach the standards of classic Ramones. Dee Dee's ode to Sid and Nancy ('Love Kills') is woeful and only 'Crummy Stuff' gets close.

'Halfway to Sanity' was yet another disappointing album. The first three tracks ('I Wanna Live' 'Bop Til You Drop' and 'Garden of Serenity') are really great but then it all goes down hill fast. Daniel Rey was at the controls for the new album but even he couldn't work a miracle with the songs that were on offer.

'Halfway to Sanity' would be Richie's final album as a Ramone. Not long after all the recording was in the bag he left. He was fed up of not getting what he felt was his due financially which was a portion of the merch sales. As the band were ready to go out on the road they needed a new drummer. Clem Burke of Blondie lasted two shows (his name became Elvis Ramone). It's not that he wasn't a great drummer, because he is, it's just that he couldn't really play Ramones style drums which are a lot different to 'normal drumming'!

The band finally got their new drummer and it was none other than Marky! Things were not good in the camp though. Marky was clean and sober, Dee Dee was taking all sorts and communication again was at a bare minimum. That said they still went out and played over 100 shows across the globe.

It seemed to be that this was going to be the way The Ramones survived from now on. Patchwork albums with maybe two or three great songs on them but live they were as tight as ever. A Ramones show is one of the best shows to be at. It is like a case of assualt and battery. One song finishes and before you have time to draw breath another begins and you are further punched in tha face by this prize fighter of a rock and roll band!

There was not a band who could touch them for sheer intensity when they were on stage. Of course there were always better musicians around but live dysfunction is something no one appeared to have!
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