Ramones “Ramones” 1976. Today, October 8th, would have been Johnny Ramone’s 70th birthday (b. John William Cummings, 1948, d. 2004). Today is also C.J. Ramone’s birthday (b. Christopher Ward, 1965) who replaced Dee Dee on bass in 1989. Ramones was the band’s debut album and is considered one of the great punk rock – all rock – classics, introducing the super up-tempo punk rhythm, short and snappy songs based on 50′s/60′s pop melodies delivered with a snotty adolescent attitude, basic simplistic chord structures…even the album cover – all have been imitated by countless punks, metalheads, alt-rockers, post-punks and pop rockers for 40+ years since its release. It barely made a commercial dent at the time of its release, not even cracking the top 100 on the album charts in the US (this was during the height of bloated, self-absorbed arena and prog rock which the Ramones heartily rebelled against) but posthumously can be credited for just about all of the “alternative” music that followed it.
Ramones did release a couple of singles from the LP in ‘76, “Blitzkrieg Bop” (which gave us the endearing and enduring “Hey Ho! Let’s Go!” anthem) and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” I’m fairly certain neither single charted at the time. Besides those two songs, the whole album really is a stream of classic tracks back-to-back. I’m particularly fond of “Beat on the Brat,” “Judy Is a Punk” and first songs of many more over the years that gave insight into what the Ramones wanted to do: “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” and what they didn’t want to do: “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement” and “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You.”
Approximately a million people have written/said about a million things about Ramones and it’s been included on almost as many best-of lists, but of note is The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame around the time of the Ramones’ induction in 2002: “The Ramones got back to basics: simple, speedy, stripped-down rock and roll songs. Voice, guitar, bass, drums. No makeup, no egos, no light shows, no nonsense. And though the subject matter was sometimes dark, emanating from a sullen adolescent basement of the mind, the group also brought cartoonish fun and high-energy excitement back to rock and roll.” Allmusic states in its 5 star review, “Ramones is all about speed, hooks, stupidity, and simplicity. The songs are imaginative reductions of early rock & roll, girl group pop, and surf rock. Not only is the music boiled down to its essentials, but the Ramones offer a twisted, comical take on pop culture with their lyrics…”