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.
I 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.”