Dumb, crude, three-chord thrash? Check. Fast and exhilarating? Check. Intelligent and boundary smashing? Check. The Ramones were all of these things and more.
Stripping rock ‘n’ roll to its bare basics of three chords, building up to a buzzsaw guitar roar, a pile-driving rhythm section traveling at the speed of light, and Joey Ramone’s funny, mindlessly simple vocals (which were often strangely intoned) about sniffing glue, beating on brats with baseball bats, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, prostitution, and tongue in cheek Nazi imagery (to cite just a few), The Ramones was unlike anything a startled Rock world had ever seen in 1976. Two years before, in 1974, a bunch of middle class kids with a mutual love of the Stooges, MC5 and the New York Dolls, followed bass player Dee Dee’s lead and all adopted the surname Ramone, subsuming their identities beneath the concept and started pairing down their sound into the two minute rushes that we know and love them for today. With their eponymous debut they revolutionized rock music and captured the quintessence of rock’n’roll in a manner so pure, so primal, so refined, so amazingly direct, that no-one managed to do neither before nor after them. In truth, these New York outcasts were big fans of decidedly un-punk influences such as bubblegum pop, 60s girl groups, and surf music, and they simply blended these elements together and doubled up the speed, creating something totally new in the process.
Every song possesses the signature sound associated with The Ramones. The guitars roar with overbearing power, yet at the same time crafting catchy, easily played chord progression that any novice could play. The drums fiercely try and keep up with the beat, pitter-pattering and creating swirling sounds with the cymbals. Over all of it, Joey croons and shouts the extremely catchy and dumb lyrics in an almost British accent. These are the sounds of a band in its infancy, and are some of the most recognizable sounds in punk music.
“Blitzkrieg Bop” is the first real punk sound ever recorded. It begins with a simple and fast chord progression, with the whole band roaring. Suddenly, everything drops out but the drums, and Joey soon sets in rock what punk music will be with only four words “Hey, Ho! Let’s Go!” repeated, over and over. “Beat on the Brat” is obviously about teenage violence, one of the most ridiculous songs with lyrics such as “Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat”. “Judy is a Punk” also follows in the same fashion, and even includes some background vocals inspired by the likes of the Beach Boys and the Beatles. The other songs are all genius, simple songs. “Chain Saw” is an obvious tribute to one of the band’s favorite movies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which reveals a lot about their sense of humour and overall personalities. “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” is the glue sniffer’s tour de force. Glue was a fairly cheap drug, as it was a household item, and used to be used by some of the members when they were younger, so the song is basically a delinquent tribute to delinquent days. “53rd & 3rd” is probably the most vicious song here, written by Dee Dee. The song depicts being a prostitute on the near-famous corner, as it was where Dee Dee was apparently a male prostitute.
The album cover is probably just as revolutionary as the music. And it only took them $150 for the photoshoot: Four badass punks standing against a brick wall near CBGB’s, wearing leather jackets, torn jeans and sneakers. They were the ultimate street gang and they’re coming to get ya.