I fully recognize that I’m about to tread on what some will view as hallowed ground, but, what the hell, I’m going to do it anyway.

This is about Ramones.  Ramones is a band that achieved popularity particularly after their the release of their third album, Rocket To Russia.  That album had “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”, a song that seems to be completely pinned to the band regardless of anything else they’ve recorded.

Ramones formed in the heat of the late ’70s, just as Rock and Roll was becoming, as some would say, too vast, too orchestrated.  Punk was coming into vogue as a “shot in the arm” that Rock and Roll needed to stay fresh. But for me, Punk was another part of the growing fascinations of Rock.  It was maturing by simplifying.  And Ramones was a surprise part of that with the release of their Sire debut.

RamonesI bought that debut in Columbus, Ohio.  I remember the day well.  I found an uptown record store, a beautiful hole in the wall that I don’t remember the name of (unless some of you Columbus residents might.  It wasn’t far from the Holiday Inn uptown.) I listened to that album until I pissed people off around me. I can still hear the excitement of those songs.

Ramones was followed by the  nearly as good album, Leave Home (1977).  That album released almost a year later.  But for me, while I still love Leave Home, was considerably less than Ramones (their sparkling debut).  After that, my affection for the band and any of their following albums had waned considerably.  To me, they became a parody of themselves.  It felt like they found a pop audience and zeroed in with laser-like focus to exploit it.  And, of course, I never fault any band for finding an audience that pays the best.  I just might not like it too well.

For me, their first album is definitely the crowning jewel of the band. With the arrival of Rocket To Russia, and the rest that followed, I felt the Ramones went big, changing their original focus (although they never really achieved huge commercial success, they certainly are legendary for what they have done).

But somehow, I have a feeling that some of you might have a different feeling about the Ramones phenomena.

And, for the record, I HATE “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”.

What do you think?

“…beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh oh.”

Ramones band

By MARowe

13 thoughts on “Ramones…Just How Perfect Are They?”
  1. I purposely waited to comment on this one because I didn’t want the first comment to be negative. Personally, I had very little respect for the music of most punk rock bands. A lack of musicianship, yelling for vocals and poor melodic structure never allowed me to embrace the genre.
    At least one of the Ramones made it big as a syndicated DJ/radio personality :)

    1. I get what you’re saying, Bill. Still, I’m very surprised that no one commented (other than you). I anticipated at least a few comments. I got the same for Patti Smith (which surprises me even more). Wonder if I did one for Television, or the ’80s King Crimson (with Belew).

  2. I agree 110%…I pretty much stopped listening to them after the first LP. I also really dug The Dead Boys around the same time too but shortly thereafter fell in love with new wave of british heavy metal bands coming on the scene, including Iron Maiden, Saxon, Def Leppard, etc. Now, some 30 plus years later I’m back to the old standards again, Purple, Zep, Sabbath, Floyd, etc. The problem with punk is it was all attitude, which was cool at first but soon wore thin. Sadly, very few punk bands ever had the talent to keep my interest for more than an LP or two at most.

  3. I’m a HUGE Ramones fan, but they had to grow on me. I first picked up ‘Mania’ and found that it was way too long – it got tedious after the first dozen songs or so.

    But the more I listened to them, the more I liked them and I ended up buying every single album. And DVDs. And a boxed set.

    Personally, I’m not as keen on the first album because it’s not as polished, but I’m a late bloomer. I’m sure that if I had gotten hooked with the first album, at the time of its release, I would feel the same way as Matt; I hate it when my favourites stray far from what I like(d) about them.

  4. Reading this article and then the comments afterwards made me very sad. Very sad indeed. People who hadn’t grown up with them, or seen them when they came to your neighborhood can’t truly appreciate the impact this group had on music. That’s right, music not just rock and roll. Everyone who ever thought about making a record or getting up and playing realized they no longer needed millions of dollars or have to be able to do a 15 minute guitar solo or drum solo. In fact I’m sure most every band from today that everyone here likes/loves will point to the Ramones as one of their key inspirations to make this noise you all love.

    First, a clarification, the author stated that they came about in the late 70s. Actually they formed in 1974. Think back what you were listening to and what you thought was good in 1974 and realize how ahead of their time they were.

    Ramones, the first album was made in 1976 for $6000. That record changed music everywhere all over the world. Don’t believe me? Read about how the Ramones influenced the British youth when they first toured there. When they toured in South America they were heralded like the Beatles. In Europe they played in stadiums in front of 100s of thousands of people. Yet in America, they couldn’t even get played on the radio. They got lumped in with the punk groups who were violent and people were afraid.

    I won’t go album by album, but if you listen closely, every album they made offered something new to the ears. There was advancement to the music. They did change while still staying true to their core beliefs. When you bought a Ramones album you knew what you were getting. It was the safest $15 dollars you ever invested because you knew you were getting quality. So whenever I hear that you can only take them for short bursts or that all their albums sound the same, I get disappointed that maybe these people never really sat down and listened to each album. Greatest Hits packages or random downloads don’t do them justice.

    I thought after they were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as first time nominees things would loosen up and people would finally give them the recognition and respect as the trailblazers that they were. I’m afraid though after reading this page that not much has really changed. And then we wonder why rock and roll is dying and is being taken over by manufactured formula oriented boy bands.

    1. Mike, don’t take offense. My piece is merely an opinion piece. When the first album came out, I was immensely excited. I was barely a year out of HS, and I loved the band. But (and I practice this for EVERY band I love), i am critical of every release. For Ramones, beyond their second album, I couldn’t keep with them. They went for a more pop sound. However, I love that you love them that intensely.

      I apologize for my shoddy writing with the ‘off the cuff’ “late ’70s” statement. Sometimes, things just pop out like that. I was wrong; thanks for that correction.

      The article was written to get a discussion going, just like we have.

  5. Matt,

    I take no offense to opinions. It’s healthy. But using your logic they were doomed from the beginning. You would have hated them for making the same record over and over AND you would have hated them for going “pop”. Have you heard Animal Boy? Too Tough To Die? Do they sound pop to you?

    I loved the first record too. Once I bought that it made every record in my collection immediately obsolete (I’ve since rebought them. haha).

    You have to be passionate about something, right? Without music, our lives would be much much darker. I enjoy reading your discussions, I’m a fan.

  6. I think you are completely missing the whole point here. Ramones, from the very first album, always were a pop band. They were admittedly, big fans of sixties pop and garage rock and took that music and cranked it to 78. Add in Johnny’s buzzsaw guitar and injecting lyrics that reflected their NYC upbringing and voila, they reinvented or devolutioned rock and roll and it was called punk. Genius! As if it hadn’t already been pointed out they solidified their 60’s pop love with Acid Eaters, their fantastic covers album.

    Ramones were always different from the rest of the punk bands in that they embraced their love of this music and had fun with it. They weren’t just a bunch of nihilists like most other punk bands pretended to be. And all their albums, especially the first four, were pure gems. Guaranteed to get your head bobbing and put a smile on your face. Just like great pop music should.

  7. Mike,
    I did grow up during that period. I would have been about 15-16 when they started given your 1976 first album date date. I stand by my original statement. They lacked everything I valued in music. Sorry but it doesn’t impress me that it only cost $6000 to make an album. In fact, it would impress me more if it the opposite was true. I was never afraid of them or the punk rockers in general so that didn’t put me off. I just thought their music and production values were less than adequate when compared to the groups I loved,,,,,Floyd, Beatles, Sabbath, Zep, Rush, etc.. And just for the record, I think someone that wants to make a living playing music should be able to do a 15 minute guitar solo although, granted, that isn’t necessary to make a great song (and with that said there are many 15 minute guitar solos that are crap). I’m glad that you enjoyed them and more power to you, but many of the aspects that made them admirable to you, made people like me dismiss them. Musical taste is very personal and for many genre limited, unless you are like Matt who seems to be able to find jewels in any genre of music.

  8. One last opinion. Much like jbufka2, I loved the bands that came with the NWOBHM. When those bands first started they were heavily influenced by the punkers. The only difference, IN MY OPINION, is that they could play their instruments, wrote more traditional melodic based songs and dressed like bikers instead of freaks (not that there is anything wrong with that).

  9. I wasn’t going to get into this discussion, but my itchy fingers couldn’t hold back any longer. It is wonderful that everyone likes something different, and music is no exception. “One man’s treasure is another’s trash” and other cliches of that ilk. Like it or not, Punk in general was one of the most manufactured of all genres of music. If you dig into the history and how it came to be, then it is clear that the main music labels wanted something to spur on sales and so began a campaign that changed Rock music forever, divided musicians and fans, and began the slow descent into what we have now: silos of styles, bland radio, and single-oriented music for quick satisfaction and no lasting quality. Obviously, that is a general statement and as deep music fans, we can always find our favourites today amongst the masses, but let’s go back to what happened briefly in the mid to late 70s. Bands were dropped from labels, not because of any reason but to promote the new bands. Groups were sneered at if they had technical chops because they represented the old? What kind of sense was all that? The industry told US we were tired of the long songs – which was nonsense. We had so much choice up to that point, but sales were spread across many genres. I am not saying that bands like the Ramones were bad; all I am saying is that any band with attitude fit the bill and got signed, wiping out so many great artists from being heard. The reason so many people today are going back to the days before Punk is that they are tired of three chord bands with the same songs and the same approaches. We still have to dig deep to find what interests us, but the industry has never healed.

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