Depending on who you ask, The Ramones first album was either a work of absolute genius or a complete pile of doggy-doo-doo. I fall into the first camp, naturally. I have loved The Ramones from the first time I heard them, which wasn’t this album but rather their 3rd one, Rocket To Russia. By the time they released Russia they were polished, poppy and still a little weird (this album contains, by far, the best rendition EVER of Surfin’ Bird, no offence to the Trashmen, or The Cramps, intended). Head back and give a listen to the debut, though, and you’ll find a primal 3-chord masterpiece full of stupid, hilarious, smart, groundbreaking music. The Ramones were just a bunch of goofballs who cobbled together $6,000 and created one of the best and most influential albums of all time. They left in their wake thousands of terrible punk bands and an equal amount of really great ones, and this is their ultimate legacy. Play the first 3 Ramones albums to someone who was born after 1985, though, and they’ll think it quaint and maybe even a little tame or laughable. But in 1976 they started a revolution across the pond that in turn started a revolution back on the Ramones turf.
The shame of this, of course, is that The Ramones never really achieved the kind of pop stardom they so craved while other, lesser bands who were directly influenced by these guys, whether they were aware of it or not, reaped the rich harvest while the boys were relegated to the sidelines.
I freakin’ love The Ramones, and I always will. No one has or will ever match the excitement and power and influence of those first 3 (4, really…Road To Ruin is pretty special) albums ever again. And that’s a certainty.