music from the vault: the ramones
by Michele Christopher
Today we are going back. Back to the first exposure you had to a classic punk rock album. An album that if you dig deep enough into your record collection, you will find it. Reeking like cigarettes and beer. Something that makes you smile when you put it on. The memories when you first heard it. What was your first feeling when you heard this album? Where were you at? What were you doing? Hopefully this will become a regular feature and you guys can add your first feelings. - T
Todays album is the self titled debut of the Ramones. Have fun guys and girls cause we did.
"The Ramones. The Ramones. The Ramones! You gotta hear the Ramones! You gotta hear the Ramones!" A battle cry I heard in the backlot of some ash covered street. Someone telling me how good they were. Someone twice my age telling me they were the greatest band in the world. How punk rock was shit now and how they started it all.
Well ok. First of all fuck you and don't steal my beer, and second of all, I'll get a copy of it in the morning.
You have to understand, I was a kid. I was into early 80's California punk rock. Shit that was mean and angry and didn't really give a fuck about anything although they always tried to sound like they cared about some cause. Well, maybe they didn't but who knows. I was a kid. Californina songs were about beer and hating "Bob," who ever Bob was at moment, were pretty common. But theses songs, the ones I grew up on, the early Califonia punk songs, were fast, mean and lean. Hell, even G.B.H. was a little slow for my style. I needed shit like D.R.I. to make me breathe and bring life me into after waking up on a curb in the morning.
I went out anyway and bought the first album and put it on. My friend and I looked at each other in shock. Turned the wax up to 78 rpm cause we thought it was broken. Like they recorded too slow. Or it was a joke. Or I bought the wrong album. I sat thinking "This is what all the hype is about? This is why they are so big? This kinda sucks, dude."
Remember I was a kid. But as the years grew on I realized that without this album, no one would be where they are today.
I still have this album and cd. This is album I listen to when I just want to rock and think about nothing. What I missed then, I understand now. This album was the blueprint for punk rock.
Plus 53rd and 3rd fucking rocks.
That’s what happened when I discovered the Ramones. Summer, 1976 ,thank you WNEW-FM. I had been mired in KISS’s Destroyer and Blue Oyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune at that point, and I was about to embark upon a one person war against disco, using the hardest rock I could find as weaponry. No, I had no idea how I was going to wage this war, I just knew that somehow, someway, Thin Lizzy would figure into the death of Donna Summer. Someone had to kill her.
And then I heard the Ramones. And I knew. My satanic, devil worshiping heavy metal was not going to destroy disco. Joey Ramone was. From the first riff of the first Ramones song I heard (Beat on the Brat), the music hooked me in. There was something about it, something raw and exciting and...different. So different. The vocals, the chords, the energy, the sparseness of the music, the simplicity of it all. It made me want to jump around my bedroom. It made me want to play guitar. It made me want to buy a black leather jacket and cut my hair and stick a safety pin in my ear. Hey, I was 14. Leather jackets were cool and so were the Ramones.
I grabbed a handful of dollar bills out of my allowance jar. I was saving for a new stereo system, but this need, this feeling that I had to have this music in my hands needed to be appeased. So I walked the mile to Modell’s to buy the album. I spent the entire walk home cradling that album in my arms as if it was going to change my world. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't. But it changed me. And that’s all that mattered.
I spent the next few days holed up in my bedroom spinning this record over and over again. 53rd and 3rd, Blitzkrieg Bop, holy shit, this was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard. It wasn’t great music, I recognized that. You weren’t going to get into a discussion about the complexity of time changes. You couldn’t sit around and get stoned with your friends and analyze the lyrics like we did with Pink Floyd. You just listened to it, for the sake of listening. Just enjoyed it. It gave me a feeling like there was something more out there, something beyond the layered nuances of Led Zeppelin songs that were really nothing more than Lord of the Rings fanfic. Something so simple, yet so enormous.
I fell in love with this album, fell in love with Joey Ramone, fell hard in love with punk rock. And I had to go it alone because, my friends? They sucked, man. It wasn’t until about five or six years later that they finally figured out that the Ramones weren’t some fad band, that they changed the face of music, but by then, my sorry friends had become pussified by too much Bruce Springsteen and not enough four chord rock and roll. But what can you do? We were just kids. And some kids are just stupid when it comes to good music.
[thanks to tesco for saving the day with the mp3s today]
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