With the three-chord assault of "Blitzkrieg Bop," The Ramones
begins at a blinding speed and never once over the course of its 14 songs does it let up. The 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, whether it's the horror schlock of "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement," the gleeful violence of "Beat on the Brat," or the maniacal stupidity of "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue." And the cover of Chris Montez
's "Let's Dance" isn't a throwaway -- with its single-minded beat and lyrics, it encapsulates everything the group loves about pre-Beatles
rock & roll. They don't alter the structure, or the intent, of the song, they simply make it louder and faster. And that's the key to all of the Ramones' music -- it's simple rock & roll, played simply, loud, and very, very fast. None of the songs clock in at any longer than two and half minutes, and most are considerably shorter. In comparison to some of the music the album inspired, The Ramones
sounds a little tame -- it's a little too clean, and compared to their insanely fast live albums, it even sounds a little slow -- but there's no denying that it still sounds brilliantly fresh and intoxicatingly fun.
[The Ramones' first album saw its first digital expansion in 2001 as part of Rhino's extensive overhaul of the punk band's catalog. For the album's 40th Anniversary, it received a Super Deluxe Edition treatment, blowing up the original 29-minute album to a triple-CD/single-LP set, an expansion suggests there might be more left in the vault than originally suspected. That's not quite the case. Most of the unheard archival material simply fills out the existing story: all the demos from the 2001 edition are here along with songs from the sessions that didn't make the cut, all sounding good but paling in comparison with the finished album. The original uncensored vocals for "Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World" are a bit of a find, as are the original promotional mono mixes for "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," both which provide the transition for the intriguing bonus of a new mono mix of the original album, a bonus added to the CD with the remastered original album and available on vinyl in this edition (there is no stereo mix on vinyl here). Although the mono mix adds shouts of "1-2-3-4!" to the beginning of nearly every track—a countdown excised from the original stereo mix—there's not a lot different between the mono and stereo; it's a bit punchier, perhaps, but the stereo didn't have a lot of separation. Similarly, the two complete sets from the Ramones' August 12, 1976 appearance at the Roxy in Hollywood don't offer much different; the first, which has been in circulation in quasi-legit packages, and the second, which makes its debut here, are the exact same set performed exactly the same way with almost the same crowd banter. So, this means this 40th Anniversary contains a lot of repetition: the same songs performed the same way over and over again. Every version of each song is good, it's great to get a complete set of demos in circulation, but the lasting impression from the set is how perfect the original 29-minute album is.]