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Saturday, 23 April 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 114 - The Game Changer

There's maybe a few albums that I would put forward on the list of The Game Changer
Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley (1956)
The "Chirping" Crickets - The Crickets (1957)
Please Please Me - The Beatles (1963)
Bringing It All Back Home - Bob Dylan (1965)
Tommy - The Who (1969)
Catch A Fire  - Bob Marley (1973)
Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen (1975)
Horses - Patti Smith (1975)
Stupidity - Dr Feelgood (1976)
All Mod Cons - The Jam (1978)
The Specials - The Specials (1979)

I'm sure there are a few more but that's just a few off the top of my head. Add to that list the debut album from a band hailing from Forest Hills, Queens, New York...Ramones.

It's kinda funny that an album that seemed so overlooked on its release would be an album that ended up influencing so many up and coming bands at the time and still to this day has put its mark upon music in various categories, not just punk.

Formed in 1974 originally with Johnny on Guitar, Dee Dee on Lead Vocals and Bass and Joey on Drums and Tommy on the verge of being their manager. That didn't really work out as Dee Dee felt he couldn't really sing and play bass at the same time and Joey felt he couldn't sing and play drums at the same time so it fell to Tommy to "stand in" whilst they looked for a new drummer and because he was better than any of those who auditioned he stayed on for a few years. Tommy was responsible for encouraging the others to get Joey to be the singer.

Their first live outing before an audience was 30th March 1974 at Performance Studios. Around this time a new music scene was springing up in downtown Manhatten and had its base at two clubs, Max's Kansas City and CBGB's. They played their debut at CBGB's 16th August 1974. A month later someone had filmed their performance and this was included on Ramones It's Alive 1974-1996 DVD set. It's fascinating to watch as they plough their way through Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue, I Don't Wanna Go Down To the Basement, and Judy is a Punk.

By 1975 they were sounding a lot better and again thanks to someone making it available there's 17 minutes of footage from Arturo Vega's Loft (3rd February). This seventeen minutes was basically their live set! Can you imagine that today!

There's also a Bootleg EP floating around of Demos recorded in 1975.

The album took about a week to record in February 1976 and was released on Sire Records, Seymour Stein had signed them after his wife Linda had seen them at CBGB's late 1975.

The album was pretty much a commercial failure by not getting into the Billboard Top 100 and the two singles, Blitzkrieg Bop and I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend both flopped.

It was available in the UK on import to begin with (not totally sure when it was made available without being imported) and John Peel played tracks from the album on his nightly show on BBC Radio 1. That's how most of us got to hear them for the very first time and man alive this was really different! They were really in a league of their own in NYC because bands like Television, Talking Heads and Patti Smith were maybe a little more arty, former New York Dolls Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan's newest band The Heartbreakers were more a straight up rock and roll band and Blondie were considered a bit of joke!

This was no thrills, no guitar solos, no fancy drum solos, and no keyboard noodling. It was just a case of get in, smash 'em over the head by playing the song very fast and get out as quick as you can! It was so against the grain of pretty much everything that was out around the time! Add to that there's 14 songs on the album containing a total of 29 minutes and 4 seconds of music! Lyrically I don't think I had heard anyone sing about the kind of stuff they were! As I said, everything about it was different.

Whilst they continued to build a pretty solid live audience the sales figures were not good but their influence was going to get much bigger as they came to the UK in the summer of 1976 to play at The Roundhouse second on the bill to the Flamin' Groovies on Independence Day, and the next night at Dingwalls in Camden Town (where they would meet members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash).

The album had a massive impact on the English punk scene, with the bassist for Generation X, Tony James, saying that the album caused English bands to change their style. "When their album came out," commented James, "all the English groups tripled speed overnight. Two-minute-long songs, very fast." In another interview, James stated that "Everybody went up three gears the day they got that first Ramones album. Punk rock—that rama-lama super fast stuff—is totally down to the Ramones. Bands were just playing in an MC5 groove until then."

Ramones - Ramones
Produced by Craig Leon and Tommy Erdrlyi (Ramone)
Released 23rd April 1976
US Chart #111

    Joey Ramone – lead vocals
    Johnny Ramone – lead guitar
    Dee Dee Ramone – bass guitar, backing vocals, co-lead vocals in "53rd & 3rd"
    Tommy Ramone – drums
 Joey Died 15th April 2001
Dee Dee Died 5th June 2002
Johnny Died 15th September 2004
Tommy Died 11th July 2014

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