Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gabba Gabba Hey!....The Ramones Story Part One & Show # 261

Ramones began in 1974. Taking their name from an early stage name of Paul McCartney (Paul Ramon), Ramones added the letter "E", dressed in black Harley leather jackets, ripped jeans and adopted "Ramone" as their stage name. Originally starting out as a three piece band in Forest Hills, New York, Ramones consisted of Joey Ramone (real name Jeffery Hyman) on drums, Johnny Ramone (real name John Cummings) on guitar and Dee Dee Ramone (real name Douglas Colvin) on bass/vocals. It would be at the suggestion of Tommy Ramone (real name Tommy Erdelyi) that Joey took over on vocals. With Joey as the lead singer the group needed a drummer, this role would be filled by Tommy Ramone. Influenced by Surf music/culture, TV, Movies, Popular Culture, bands such as The Stooges, New York Dolls, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Who, The Rolling Stones, T.Rex, Phil Spector and The Ronettes, The Ramones created a style of music that would be known as Punk Rock.

Ramones played their first live show in March of 1974 at their rehearsal space. The music was loud, fast, raw and short. It was stripped down Rock and Roll that was both simple and complex at the same time. Combined with their striking appearance (of leather jackets and ripped jeans) Ramones came off sounding and looking like nobody else. Soon after this, the band was playing shows at CBGB's in New York with bands such as Television and Blondie. By the time 1975 hit, Ramones were getting mention in magazines such as Rolling Stone and Melody Maker. Around this time they recorded a 15 song demo in hopes of getting a record deal. The demo was recorded in eight hours and contained 15 tracks. The demo was rejected by almost every label at the time, except one. In mid 1975, Sire Records signed Ramones to a record deal.

The Ramones first album, Ramones was recorded in February of 1976. Recording of the album took a total of 17 days and cost just over six thousand dollars to make. The music was defined as Punk Rock and it was one of the first albums in that genre. Ramones contained 14 songs, most barely over two minutes. The sound of the album was raw and it featured a unique mix. In one channel there were guitars and the other bass and drums, an effect that was used by early Beatles and Cream. It was produced by both Tommy Ramones and Craig Leon. The cover photograph, featuring the band leaning against a brick wall was taken by Roberta Bayley, who also took photos for Punk Magazine. The album charted at #111 on the billboard album charts.

Ramones featured many classic songs. The songs were credited to all of the band members, but Dee Dee Ramone helped come up with a lot of the songs. There were songs such as "Judy Is A Punk" a song about Ramones super fans, "Chainsaw" a song written by Joey after seeing the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre and "Blitzkrieg Bop". Originally titled "Animal Hop", "Blitzkrieg Bop" can be analysed to have many meanings, but it is essentially just about having a good time at a concert. There were also songs such as "Beat On the Brat", "Loudmouth", "53rd & 3rd" and "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" that all add to this albums aura. Ramones toured a lot to support this album, but it wasn't until a performance in Britain that they would see a huge turnout. In July of 1976, the Ramones concert at the Roundhouse was attended by lots of adoring fans, and it would in turn help to influence a music scene that was beginning in the UK. Ramones were met by members of two bands that would in turn have a huge impact in their own scene Sex Pistols and The Clash.

Leave Home was released in 1977. Produced by Tommy Ramone and Tony Bongiovi, Leave Home did well on the UK album charts (#45), but not as well in the US (#148). The album featured songs such as "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment", "Pinhead" (inspired by seeing a movie titled Freaks), "Glad To See You Go", and "Swallow My Pride". There was also controversy due to the song titled "Carbona Not Glue". The song (which was a sequel to the song "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue") was removed from the album due to possible lawsuits, but did still make it onto some original pressings of the album. There was also a cover song on the album (as with every Ramones album) "California Sun". The song was originally done by The Rivieras.

Rocket To Russia followed Leave Home in November 1977. The album was produced by the same team of producers as the previous album (Tommy and Bongiovi), but this album was different than the previous two Ramones albums. Rocket To Russia was an album where the band showed off more of a Surf Rock influence. Rocket To Russia also brought in a variety of other influences such as Bubble Gum Pop and Pop music such as The Beatles. The album contained songs such as "Cretin Hop" (a song about crazed Ramones fans), "Rockaway Beach" (written by Dee Dee about an actual place in New York), "We're A Happy Family", "I Wanna Be Well", "Teenage Lobotomy", and "I Can't Give You Anything". There were also two cover songs on the album, "Do You Wanna Dance?"(by Bobby Freeman) and "Surfin' Bird (by The Trashmen).

The song "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" is also a well known Ramones track that is featured on Rocket To Russia. The song was written by Joey Ramone and when released as a single went to #88 on the US Singles charts and #22 on the UK Singles charts. The actual album Rocket To Russia went to #49 on the US album charts and #60 on the UK album charts. The album sleeve art was created by Punk Magazine editor/illustrator John Holmstrom, at the request of Johnny Ramone. While on tour, Ramones recorded a double live album in December of 1977, which was eventually released in 1979. It was titled It's Alive (which was also a reference to a horror film with the same title). In 1978, Tommy Ramone would leave the group as their drummer in 1978, after tiring of touring. He would continue to help out the band as producer. Next week I will do part two of my Ramones history.

Part Two of my Ramones history can be found here:
Rock N' Roll Radio: The Ramones Story Part Two

The Play List:

1. Pearl Jam - Brain of J
2. The Things - Some Kind of Kick
3. Wooly Bandits - Gonna Make It Right
4. Skeletones Four - Let It Snow
5. Gentlemen of Horror - Rich Kids
6. Animal Kingdom - Tension
7. The In Crowd - Blow Up
8. Clinic - Tomorrow
9. Little Claw - Frozen in the Future
10. Action Makes - Sand Worms (Rough Mix)
11. The Worst - I Don't Want You
12. The Astronauts - Montezuma
13. The Treblemakers - The Grudge
14. Love Me Nots - Come On Over
15. The Howlies - Howlies Sound
16. Young Rival - 4:15
17. Lou Reed - Vicious
18. Link Wray - Hidden Charms
19. Speed - She's All There
20. Rolling Stones - Get Yourself Together
21. Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent
22. Bob Dylan - Jolene
23. The Prime Ministers - My Turn
24. Bob Dylan - Shake Shake Mama
25. The Scavengers - True Love
26. Ramones - She's A Sensation

To download this week's show visit the CJAM archives and select the files 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on August 11th, 2009.

Ramones Videos I:

Judy Is A Punk (1974 CBGB's)
Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World (1975 Rehearsal)
Rockaway Beach (Don Kirshner 1977)
Blitzkrieg Bop (Musikladen 1978)
California Sun (Musikladen 1978)
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker (Musikladen 1978)


Nicole M said...

great post Dave! expanding my punk knowledge again. i laughed SO hard when Clara and I watched Rock N Roll Highschool. Check out Les Mod's if you haven't heard them. It's Canadian and we have their album - the Washing Machine played some today!

Dave said...

Thanks Nicole. I'll check out that band also there was an awesome band you played on Washing Machine this week, The Displays I think was their name.