The Ramones, a group of New York garage-rockers that found their way into nearly every American and British teen’s brain. With blaring riffs and energetic style; The Ramones were a driving force in the music world, spanning a legendary 22-years and 14-studio albums that rocked the airwaves long into the future of generations to come.
Opening with “Blitzkrieg Bop,” a quick and stylish track that immediately causes movement and forces the listener to chant along to the lyrics, “Hey Oh, lets go, Shoot them in the back now. What they want, I don’t know, we’re all revved up and ready to go.” The track created this substantial mix of both choruses that any pop song of the time would have, but then combined a desperate speed increase that would make The Ramones so popular in becoming the Grandfathers of Punk music. Punk music relies on rapid and primarily aggressive style to convey the endless fury within a track, The Ramones adopted this style and were one of the first bands to achieve this, now legendary technique.
“Blitzkrieg Bop” contains a varying level of layering within the track and is constantly changing between three stages. The main chorus where “Hey Oh, lets go,” is sung, to the main verse where lead singer Joey Ramone, would deliver the primary account of lyrics, “They’re forming in a straight line, We’re going through a tight wind.” This then leads to the final section of the track where background vocalist and bassist, Dee Dee Ramone would come together with Joey to harmonize and create these sections of a beauty behind the destruction. When played all together, the lead guitar from Johnny Ramone created an instant identity to “Blitzkrieg Bop,” this is also held in relation to the percussion, which was handled by Tommy Ramone.
Trailing behind was the black-humor track, “Beat On The Brat.” Featuring a comedic style and an ultimately iconic entrance where Joey happily explains “Beat on the brat. Beat on the brat. Beat on the brat with a baseball bat, Oh yeah.” The instrumental behind Joey is an uncomplicated, but refined guitar and drum beat that switches between a strumming guitar to the crashing and competing percussion. The bass line laid down by Dee Dee Ramone buzzes along and does not act as a stand-out device, but instead a steady track progressing style where the rest of The Ramones can stand along. “Beat On The Brat” ends abruptly, but jumps right into “Judy Is A Punk.”
Similar in approach to “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Judy Is A Punk” leaps directly into the action where the guitar is a straight-forward blaze on the fret board. This is also a more significant track that looks into the background vocals of Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone. The two harmonize and while Joey sings his heart out on the main verse, “Jackie is a punk, Judy is a runt. They both went down to Berlin to join the Ice Capades,” Tommy Ramone keeps a steady but relaxed style where his drumming performance would become iconic over the years, first adorning the drums as he was the only one who could keep along with the increasingly upbeat tempos that The Ramones played.
The second of the two single releases, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” is a melodic and loose style of love song where Joey can softly express and question a future lover, “Hey little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend. Sweet little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend. Do you love me babe? What do ya say?” This is The Ramones equivalent to “I Want to Hold Your Hand” where the track borrows the peaceful style, but still has this upbeat attitude and instrumental. Even as “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” is more of a sluggish track when compared to the others on The Ramones, it still is able to keep a slick and faster pace for a love song. It ends by fading out into a wonderful silence, then revving up for the next track.
“Chain Saw” uses a roaring circular saw to rev up the opening where Joey Ramone can sing “Sitting here with nothing to do, sitting here thinking only of you… But She’ll never get out here, She’ll never get out of here.” There is also another section where it sounds like Joey indifferently says, “They chop her up and I don’t care,” referring to the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Ramones had been known to say some shocking lyrics of the time, describing a gritty world full of death, love, and even male prostitution which comes later in The Ramones. The disturbed lyrics while common for punk music, are quite uncommon of the time period and were a slight eye-brow raiser when finally found out.
This would lead into the comedic track, “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” where Johnny Ramone takes the spotlight with his ripping guitar work. On this track, features the closest thing to a solo yet on The Ramones; The Ramones give a sudden count-in before letting Johnny launch into a full-scale assault that balances between the frantic work of James Williamson of The Stooges, and David Marks from The Beach Boys. Joey Ramone still has a heavy presence, exclaiming, “Now I wanna sniff some glue, now I wanna have something to do. All the kids wanna sniff some glue, all the kids wanna have something to do.” This track was actually questioned by Dee Dee who worried about the band having a negative connotation associated with them, but Tommy thought it gave a positive outlook when compared to some of the other tracks present on The Ramones.
“I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement.” Trails behind and is a track that has yet another comedic lyrical style, “Hey Daddy-o, I don’t wanna go, down to the basement. There’s something down there, I don’t wanna go.” It relates similarly to “Chain Saw” where the horror movie affiliation is accompanied along with Joey Ramone’s absolute fascination with the horror genre. This is also where Tommy Ramone would think that The Ramones would need tracks like “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” to district from the constant death and misery that most of The Ramones songs covered.
Another get in and get out track, “Loudmouth” is a rapid-fire true to origins of The Ramones song. It uses Tommy’s quick percussion strikes, a memorable bass and guitar groove from Dee Dee and Johnny, and one of the rawer lyrical performances from Joey Ramone where he aggressively threatens “Well you’re a loudmouth baby, you better shut up. I’m gonna beat you up, well you’re a loudmouth babe.” There is also a section in the track’s end where the band plays the finale of “Loudmouth,” coming together to create a great sense of punk rock chemistry that would echo on for the next forty years even after the first initial release of The Ramones.
More of a percussion focused track, “Havana Affair” puts the spotlight on Tommy and uses a downright fantastic use of reverb on his floor tom which then leads into a rapid-assault of hi-hat smacks as the track moves between choruses and different verses. Joey Ramone gives a stellar performance and that is also the case for both Dee Dee and Johnny as well. The lyrics “Now I’m a guide for the C.I.A., hooray for the U.S.A., baby baby make me loco, baby baby make me mambo,” reign through and create this great sense of urgency when paired with the rushing percussion. This is the case for the following track as well, “Listen To My Heart”
There are two primary sections of “Listen To My Heart,” the section where The Ramones play their usual blasting punk rock style, but then it switches to a melodic and more heartfelt style of confession where Joey explains “That girl could still be mine, but I’m tired of the hurt, tired of trying, tired of the hurt, I’m tired of trying, I’m tired of crying.” This is more of a personal account on Joey Ramone’s part and of the stories told on The Ramones. Rather than focusing on horror-movies or the desolate world around them, they focus on the inner workings and emotions of falling in and out of love with someone.
This love style is then abandoned when going into “53rd and 3rd.” Tommy Ramone starts the track off with some attacking snare and bass smacks before the rest of The Ramones join in and are almost compiled into a march like style. Joey shows love for his home city of New York with the lyrics “53rd and 3rd, standing on the street. 53rd and 3rd, I’m trying to turn a trick. 53rd and 3rd, you’re the one they never pick. 53rd and 3rd, don’t it make you feel sick?” The street 53rd and 3rd was a popular hot-spot for male prostitution in New York City.
Despite being an emotionally disturbed track, it is one of the more memorable and quotable tracks on The Ramones. It has outstanding progression and an instrumental that continues to change the formula that The Ramones had made popular so long ago.
After the drastic change up, “Let’s Dance” is a quick, swinging track that talks of doing “The Twist, The Stomp, [and] the Mashed Potato too.” It is a significant change from the somber and chaotic track “53rd and 3rd.” This track is actually a cover of the 1962 song of the same name by Chris Montez. The cover by The Ramones is interestingly enough rather similar to tempo and style of the original. There are obvious changes in instrumentation, but the overall presentation is entirely the same.
The second to last track, “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You” is another song that has some perfect instrumentation and that classic punk feeling. The Ramones brought such a ceiling-breaking level of energy to all of their tracks, and the sections where Johnny Ramone lets his guitar wail is a moment of sheer bliss. The ending of the track has Joey Ramone belligerently explaining, “I don’t wanna walk around with you, so why you wanna walk around with me?” before angrily shouting, “I don’t want to walk around with you,” with this growl that is the first sign of real anger inside his voice. This then segues into the “one, two, three, four,” count-in that will send The Ramones to its swan song.
“Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World,” is the finale to the rambunctious and energized journey on the world through The Ramones’ eyes. Starting how The Ramones would, a fast and dance style of classic punk song that would eventually make tsunami waves upon the music world. Johnny Ramone plays a breakneck riff fest with Tommy playing aggressively, but not with an overpowering sense of ability. This would all lead into “Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World’s” rather vitalized ending where The Ramones draw out the last minute of The Ramones into a wonderfully planned and spectacular ending full of bravado and hope for the future of punk music everywhere.
Not only starting their own genre, but starting a wave of new listeners that had accumulated all over the world. The Ramones shook stadiums, dive bars, roller rinks, and just about anything with a stage. Able to rock the very foundations of music, and start a wonderful generation of aspirations to music fans everywhere. The Ramones stand as a monument in the music world.