Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Ramones

With the death of Tommy Erdelyi we now officially live in a post Ramones world. The second Fab Four are no more, Da Bruddas are all gone, and the phrase "1,2,3,4" will never be quite the same again.

For a band that was constantly rejected and condemned they sure made an impact, essentially inventing the concept of speed that invigorated a large part of Punk and general rock, even if most of their mainstream fame happened years after they had made their boldest and most important statements. For a band that failed to succeed by the standard commercial measures (even Phil Spector couldn't get their album into the top ten) they have gained enough name checks, homages, tributes, references, and mentions to be considered one of the most influential and important bands of all time, eventually gaining the ubiquity of being one of those bands that musicians have the t-shirt of (even of they don't have anything to do with their music).

They managed to do all this with a simplicity and minimalism of style that can never be underestimated: very few profound lyrical statements (at least, in the traditional sense), no groundbreaking production techniques or technical instrument mastery was involved, no sing-along classics. Just a childlike reproduction of the first time you ever heard a rock-&-roll track, that constant speed and sound and depth and power of everything you ever wanted from everything you had heard before. Nursery-rhymes for the reprobates, pop-music without the restraints of parental control or the urge to grow-up too soon, the scream of inarticulate youth making noise because it wanted to, every you ever wanted to express but were told wasn't important enough.

When I first heard it it was like everything I'd heard before and like nothing I had heard before, the dawn of time and year zero rolled into one. I was instantly hooked & I instantly loved it like no band before or after. I am a Ramones fan (as you can guess), and I always will be. And whilst the band stopped recording and performing 18 years ago, only 7 years after I first heard them, it always gave me a happy sense that the people that had made that sound were still around. It's true that I can still turn a recording and hear it all, but it was just a bit better when i knew the person who made it, or who made it possible, was still around. So with each death (Joey 2001, DeeDee 2002, Johnny 2004) things just got a little bit sadder and now the cycle is complete. Marky, Richie, CJ and Elvis are still with us, but the originals are no more. So I'm going to crank up the stereo, listen to their glory, and be happy that they have left the world a better place. Or at least a faster and louder one, which is sometimes the same thing.
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