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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

A New Appreciation for The Ramones Part 6

Everett True has written a book about The Ramones entitled 'Hey Ho Let's Go - The Story of The Ramones' (Omnibus Press 2002) and whilst it is a pretty good read there are times in the book that I wish he would just shut up! In my previous post I ended by reflecting on the 'Mondo Bizzaro' album and confessed that I actually like the album. So I was a bit puzzled when I re-read Mr True's account of the album (Chapter 32 in the book). He is incredibly dismissive of the album and even at times the band.

He quotes Johnny's take on the recording of The Doors 'Take It As It Comes': I was in a clothes store one day and I heard the song come on a tape and thought it sounded like a good song for The Ramones. Usually, I don't like the way we do covers, but this one came out good." Everett True in the paragraph before this quote basically says it was a "pointless Doors cover".

Speaking of 'Cabbies on Crack', he says that "The Ramones were out of touch with their fans." Turning over the page he says of 'The Job That Ate My Brain' and 'Anxiety' that they "sound suspiciously like outtakes from the third Buzzcocks album...another sign of the band's artistic sterility that one could place the steals: before, it was all part of The Ramones sound."

I would not for a moment suggest that the mentioned songs deserve a place up there alongside Ramones classics like 'Sheena', 'Blitzkrieg' and 'Rockaway Beach' but Mr True is being overly harsh about those songs and that particular album. He's even worse when he moves on to the subject of the 13th studio release, 'Acid Eaters'.

True called the album "expensive karaoke", that was harsh! But then again it was not the best album they had released but it was a little different because every song on it was a cover version. True's assertion was that all the artists and bands that were covered had their music "desecrated by a band that were once the finest in the world...It was unfortunate that at a stage in their careers when The Ramones were finally achieving the recognition they deserved, they'd turned into a watered-down version of themselves."

'Acid Eaters' was originally scheduled to be an EP but their record label (Radioactive) had other ideas. Any fault with the sound quality on the album should go to the producer and the label and not the band (the producer was Scott Hackwith who also happened to be signed to the same management company, who also owned the label).

CJ did not like the album. He said, "Some of the songs on there are totally pointless - the Jefferson Airplane song we did, oh Lord. Even the porn star (Traci Lords) there couldn't save the song. It was horrible, horrible. I haven't listened to any of them for so long. I couldn't even call the names of the songs."

My personal view is as I have said, it was not their best work but again like albums before two or three tracks really stand out. CJ singing the album opener 'Journey to the Centre of the Mind' was real quality. 'Substitute' with Pete Townsend on backing vocals was pretty good. 'The Shape of Things to Come' (with CJ on vocals again - he also sang on 'My Back Pages') sounded like it was a Ramones song. In fact it is the songs with CJ on vocals that are the best on the album.

Of all their albums it is probably the one I play the least but I don't hate it like Everett True does. He gives the impression that all real Ramones fans loathe this album, so that must mean that I am not a real fan then!

To be continued (next up 'Adios')
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