Hey, ho. Let’s Go.
Of all the Punk albums on this list, so far, The Ramones may be the most classically punk (definitely a thing): three chords, purely down-strummed guitars, root-note bass that thrums along, a hi-hat, bass kick and snare and Joey Ramone sneering against your ear drum for a just shy of thirty minutes. It’s short, sweet, and fully ass-kicking. The infamous leather Jacket and torn jeans combo, the sneers of indifference, it’s everything that we think of when we think of punk.
A sonic assault, starting off in the middle of a song, discussing Nazism, prostitution, and the general shitty morass that we overlook, each song moves a freight train’s pace. From the indelible “Blitzkrieg Pop” to “"I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement” and “Havana Affair,” there’s not a moment of slack to cut the pace. You can feel their live presence on the tape. You can feel the days after, when you’re bruised and pretty sure you have permanent hearing loss, letting the chorus of ear cells die in a sine wave. More importantly, though, you know it was all worth it
This album is satisfying in that most primal of ways. It demands redress. No moment is wasted. While there isn’t a terrible deal of variety, after the onslaught of in-your-face shit-kicking two minute monsters is done, its point is made. When rage overtakes you, it’s an enormous satisfaction to turn this record on, plug in your air-guitar, and hit that downward Johnny Ramone strum, while trying to wear your arm down to a nub, shake your head gracelessly, roll your eyes into the back of your head. It’s the kind of music where it doesn’t even matter what’s being said or whether there’s a point.
Johnny Ramone’s pure down-strumming is so aggressively simple it’s its own virtuosity.
That’s not to say this lacks any complexity. Johnny Ramone’s pure down-strumming is so aggressively simple it’s its own virtuosity. Holding such a tight rhythm section for sustained periods is tough and Tommy and Dee-Dee never lack. And then Joey, sings in that distinctive clip that obscures all notion of what’s being said. Whenever I listen to this record, I’m forced to my brainstem and amygdala. Like the Zen masters who want you to stop thinking so goddamn much, the Ramones is a punk koan, each piece meant to make you think less and be more. There is depth to this record and it does Not. Fucking. Matter. The blitzkrieg of noise isn’t about thought.
That is especially important for me. I’m very good at getting lost in the track of my own thoughts. When I’m upset, angry, or lost in the swollen cloud of rage, turning on this album forces me to sit here. Fall apart, and stop giving a shit.
And I do.
Until you want to walk around with me