For us hardcore Ramones fan, any post mortem utterence from the Holy 4 is manna from Heaven. Sometimes you have to put aside your predjudice and use your imagination to enjoy music. So it’s a bunch of demos(none of which sound unfinished to me!)so what? Elvis was undoubtedly the King of Rock’n’Roll, but not everything he did was top notch, but that doesn’t have to detract from His overall brilliance, He’s Elvis fer Christ’s sake! And Joey was the singer in one of the ultimate Rock’n’Roll bands, mostly what he does has got to be wonderful, end of.
An air of Joey’s impending death hangs heavy on a couple of tracks. Some of the lyrics document that and his illness. But there’s a great deal of life too.
Most of the guitar sounds are totally Johnny Ramone, which gives you an idea of who played what, on which ever album. Step forward Ed Stasium and Jean Beauvoir and more than likely an uncredited Daniel Rey.
Rock and Roll is the answer sounds like some cheesey hair metal strut, but Joey is so cool, and the main riff is killer, a kindof Punk Metal Bay City Rollers if you will. A new anthem for my generation. Who is the co-writer Ritchie Stotts? He’s the original guitarist from the Plasmatics, and a good friend of Joey’s. It’s said he was the first musician to sport a “Taxi Driver” inspired Mowhawk.
Going nowhere fast is total Ramones, and the two note guitar riff from “The Return of Jackie and Judy” makes a guest appearance. It sounds like a message to Linda Ramone. It’s a co-write with Daniel Ray, who Joey’s brudder Micky speaks slightly disparagingly about on the cd sleeve. Joey’s family had to essentially buy the demos from Rey, who along with Ed Stasium co-produced ten out of the 15 tracks. Rey is a guitarist who I admire tremendously, he having been half of the Brudders studio guitar roar in their later years. Not to mention playing guitar with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, and producing Dee Dee and Marky. and the last few Ramones albums. There’s obviously bad blood between Micky and Daniel, and if anyone knows why please enlighten me. It’s odd how Joey isn’t affiliated to either Johnny or Dee Dee’s websites. I’ll take a wild guess and say Micky probably said fuck you to the corporation, especially Johnny. Johnny didn’t even go to Joey’s funeral, and their almost lifelong spat(over Linda)is very well documented
New York city is another Ramones rocker, with Handsome Dick and Andy Shernoff from the Dictators contributing, another New York band I adore.
I’m really warming to Waiting for that railroad, it’s a bit neo CCR, and the backing vocals are fabulous, thanks to Micky, Holly Beth Vincent and Ed Stasium. And I finally figured where the opening vocal riff comes from, it’s Have I the right?(a whoa whoa whao-oh) by the Honeycombs, protoges of Joe Meek. And that’s a great example of how much Joey and the Brudders were influenced by 60’s Pop. If I mention Phil Spector again, please kill me……but there’s kettle drums aplenty, specifically on There’s got to be more to life, another Jean Beauvoir(also ex Plasmatics) guitar driven Ramones classic.
I couldn’t sleep channels Chris Montez, No go from “Too tough to Die” and Rockabilly a la Wild one.
What did I do? is another great Ramones-alike, with an almost early Blondie type backing.
Seven days of gloom is another fabulous Ramones tear through. Joey was obviously a very sad fellow at times, or at least had a serious melancholic streak, and Eyes of Green is a total Ramones classic, sounds like something from EOTC.
Party line is Joey’s take on Spector, a boy/girl(with Holly Beth and Joey dueting)slow ballad a la Be my Baby, not just Brian Wilson’s fave Phil track, but in Joey’s top ten too.
Merry Christmas is Joey’s demo for the Ramones track from Brain Drain. And it has a charm , and Joey’s voice sounds fantastic.
I think the two outstanding tracks are:
There’s got to be more to life, a Jean Beauvoir assisted Ramones chug, with Phil’s kettle drums and that weird JB keyboard(or is it guitar)prescence somewhere in the distance, like an odd string sound, and Cabin fever, which it’s such a dynamic track it could be the best thing Joey has ever wrote or recorded. With Ed Stasium producing and playing numerous instruments, it’s a fall into Joey’s abyss, a landslide of a song with weird synth and other sounds and effects. It’s really heavy and very spooky, with a Horror movie music box at the end, it’s like nothing else in his canon, almost post modern Metal, it’s oppressive.
I’ve read a few really negative reviews on American Punk sites. Surely these people ought to be writing for wanker’s weekly?(I wish I could!)because they’re way off the mark. Ya know? is a far more cohesive beast than Don’t worry bout me, which aside from the first 5 tracks really doesn’t have a lot of strong tunes.
If you love the Ramones, get it immediately The Ramones are dead, long live the Ramones!