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Monday, 29 May 2017

Revisiting Brain Drain - Ramones (Sire/Chrysalis 1989)

Brain Drain - Ramones
Produced by Bill Laswell (Jean Beauvoir and Daniel Rey proudced two tracks)
Released 18th May 1989*
US Chart #122
UK Chart #75

* I have also seen a date for release of this as 23rd March 1989. I'm not sure if that was the American release date!

Brain Drain (Full Album Playlist)

Side 1

Side 2
    Joey Ramone – Lead vocals (All tracks apart from Punishment Fits The Crime)
    Johnny Ramone – Lead guitar
    Dee Dee Ramone –Bass guitar (credited, but did not record bass), backing and lead (Punishment Fits The Crime) vocals, synthesizer
    Marky Ramone – Drums

Additional musicians
    Daniel Rey – bass guitar
    Jean Beauvoir - bass guitar (performed on at least "Pet Semetary")
    Andy Shernoff – bass guitar (performed on at least "All Screwed Up" and "Ignorance Is Bliss")
    Artie Smith – additional guitars
    Robert Musso – additional guitars

Singles on Brain Drain
Beggars Banquet
Released November 1987

*was a Double A-Side with I Wanna Live.

A-Side: Pet Sematary
B-Side: All Screwed Up / Zero Zero UFO
Chrysalis 12"
Released June 1989 (US)*, September 1989 (UK)**
Did Not Chart

*US version of the single contained Sheena Is A Punk Rocker as the B-Side and on the 12" played at 33⅓ RPM, it included Life Goes On as an extra track.

**On the 7" Single All Screwed Up was the B-Side on its original release but the single was reissued in December 1989 adding Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight) as the B-Side on the 7". It was also released as a 12" that also included the two songs that had been on the original 12" release.

A-Side: Pet Sematary
B-Side: Palisades Park
Liberation Records (Australia)
Released 14th May 1990

The German release of the single included Don't Bust My Chops as the B-Side.

B-Side: All Screwed Up

German Promo 7"


There are a bucketload of links below so click on them to listen to more music from the Ramones and the various projects since the band folded.

There's nothing stable when it comes to Ramones World and for their 11th Studio Album, Brain Drain,  there were a few major shifts in the atmosphere that would have a momentus effect upon the band but even amid the dysfunction they continued to make some fine music.

Firstly, Richie Ramone was no longer in the band, his last album with them had been Halfway To Sanity in April 1987. He had departed the band in August 1987 after five years, apparently upset that he was still not being given a share of sales of T-Shirts! Richie is of course still out playing shows and recording and still using the name Ramone! He has released a couple of albums, Entitled (2013) and the latest album (2016) is called Cellophane.

Secondly, with Richie's departure that meant they needed to get a new drummer. They actually tried out Clem Burke of Blondie (under the name Elvis Ramone). He actually only lasted two shows in August 1987 (here's the first one from Providence, Rhode Island on the 28th August, the second show was the night after in Trenton, New Jersey). According to Johnny Ramone the performances were a disaster because Clem couldn't keep up with the band!

Thirdly, the Prodigal Drummer Marky Ramone returned to the fold in September 1987, clean and sober. Remember he had been ousted from the band after the release of Subterranean Jungle in 1983 due to his alcoholism!

Marky continues to play live shows these days (Check out Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg in Argentina in 2016) and to release albums from time to time: Marky Ramone and The Intruders - Don't Blame Me (1999), Start of The Century (2006),  Teenage Head with Marky Ramone (2008) and also a couple with The Speed Kings.

Fourthly, Dee Dee, although present on the back cover of the album, credited with a number of co-writes, and offering the lead vocal on one track, he does not actually play bass on the album at all! His final live show with the band would be 5th July 1989 at Santa Clara, California (Listen to Indian Giver/Palisades Park from the show on the 3rd July 1989). He would of course continue to provide songs for the band.

Fifthly, with Dee Dee's departure that meant a new bassist was needed. Enter Christopher Joseph Ward (who of course became C.J. Ramone). C.J.'s live debut had been on a TV Telethon, 4th September 1989 and his live Concert Debut would be the opening night of the UK tour in Leicester (listen to C.J. singing Warthog from the show and you can also listen to the full show here).

C.J. continues touring and releasing music: Bad Chopper (2007), Reconquista (1st released in 2012 and then again in 2015), Last Chance To Dance (2014) and his latest American Beauty (2017). You can watch him in action here from 2016 in Paris, and in Houston back in April of this year.

(Ramones 1989 - 1996: Johnny, Marky, Joey and C.J.)

Back to the album for a moment a two. After mentioning that Something To Believe In was my absolute favourite Ramones song in a previous blogpost on the Animal Boy album, the opening track to Brain Drain is also very high on the list of Ramones Favourites. I Believe In Miracles is another fantastic tune from the pen of Dee Dee Ramone and Daniel Rey. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam would record it for a Tribute To the Ramones album and it would also be a part of Pearl Jam live sets.

Ramones always chose some interesting Cover Versions down through the years and the inclusion of Palisades Park, the 1962 tune originally released by Freddy Cannon was a great choice and they totally made it their own.

Pet Sematary was written for the Stephen King movie and became one of the bands top radio hits and always a staple of their live shows.

All Screwed Up (co-written with former member of The Dictators Andy Shernoff, Daniel Rey and Marky Ramone) starts off sounding like a Slade song and was one of three songs that Joey co-wrote and there was a further three songs he penned himself (I Can't Get You Outta My Mind - which has that nice sixties pop feel to it that was so typical of Joey's writing; Come back, Baby and Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight) - which would also be included on Joey's second album Ya' Know in 2012). 

Six of the songs on the album were Dee Dee co-writes along with Daniel Rey, Joey Ramone, Richie Stotts (one of the founding members of The Plasmatics), Johnny and Marky Ramone.

Whilst it's not the best Ramones ever made there are enough songs on it for it to be considered a pretty decent release I think.
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