I’m a big punk rock fan. Mainly of 90s, Californian punk rock like Bad Religion, Guttermouth, The Vandals and NOFX. Which I’m sure traditional punk rock fans would think makes me a poser. I like The Clash, I find the Sex Pistols supremely over rated. But to me, my love of 90s punk rock has always made me a little scared to give the Ramones a go. I like what I’ve heard, but it sounds so simple and innocent. I also think it all sounds exactly the same. How many times can I hear the same song with s different name? And if I don’t like it, am I bad punk rock fan? With my fandom on the line, I took the plunge anyway, and listed to Ramones.
Opening with one of the songs I have heard plenty of times before and assumed represented everything else I’d hear on this record, Blitzkrieg Bop is a cool enough two minutes of poppy punk and gets the job done without ever outstaying its welcome. Which leads into an early pleasant surprise with Beat on the Brat. It’s not like every other Ramones song I’ve ever heard. Despite its simple guitar sound, it’s almost a little 80s new wave and pretty far from what I expected from this record. While still sounding exactly like the Ramones.
But it’s back to business as usual with Judy is a Punk. Then there’s I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. Slow the tempo down just a tad, and back off a tiny bit of overdrive from the guitars, and you have a straight up 50s rock n’ roll tune that could be played in a dodgy 50s themed diner on a vintage looking jukebox.
If it wasn’t for the split second of silence between Chainsaw and Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue followed by I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement, it would be pretty much impossible to pick where one song finishes and the other begins. I have to assume that there were times when even the Ramones got confused with which one of their songs was which.
I get it, at the time, the Ramones were doing something new and forging their own path. I tried my best to keep that in mind while listening to Ramones. But it’s impossible to ignore the bands influenced by the Ramones and how they expanded on that influence and took the Ramones sound and attitude to much more interesting places in the years since. So while I can appreciate the part this band and Ramones the album played in inspiring so much of the music I love, I’ll be content to stick with the bands that came later, rather than get too caught up with these originators. Sometimes, the original isn’t always the best.