On Mojo20.com we often celebrate the legends of the music industry whether it be on their birthday, or what would have been their birthday or even the anniversary of their death. This is one I’ve been particularly looking forward to as he has always been one of my favourite frontmen as well as the founder of one of my favourite bands of all time. Of course I’m talking about Queens, New York native and punk pioneer Joey Ramone. Today would have been his 66th birthday if not for losing him so early at the age of 49 to lymphoma. The kid that looked nothing like a rock star, sounded nothing like a rock star, acted nothing like a rock star but ended up defining what a rock star really is. Here’s a look at some of the greatest gifts Joey and his brothers in punk, The Ramones ever gave us…
Suzy Is A Head Banger (from Leave Home) 1977
As well as being pioneers of American punk, The Ramones had a knack of producing wonderful pop music, despite it’s edgy and dirty backdrop, tracks like this have a 50’s rock n roll vibe and sound so colourful and vibrant.
Poison heart (from Mondo Bizzaro) 1992
One of my favourite tracks of all time and especially favourites by The Ramones came from much later in their iconic run and has such a grander sound. Ed Stasium’s producing gave the band an edge they’d never had and he was great at maintaining their sound where they needed it, and enhancing it when they wanted to. Johnny Ramone once stated he hated this whole album but personally, when ‘Poison Heart’ is on the track list, I don’t understand how.
My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down [Bonzo Goes To Bitburg] (from Animal Boy) 1986
One of the highlights from this mid 80’s album that featured a mix of absolute classics like Richie Ramone’s ‘Somebody Put Something In My Drink’ and ‘Mental Hell’ and then some terrible, throwaway tracks like ‘Eat That Rat’ and the Sid & Nancy inspired ‘Love Hurts’. However ‘My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down’ is an absolute standout from their entire discography. Made even more wonderful by it’s montage appearance in the Jack Black movie ‘School Of Rock’.
Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue (from Ramones) 1976
Taken from their legendary debut record, this one epitomises the teenage, bored angst of the 70’s in the US. It’s shocking in lyrical content and merely suggests because they have nothing to do, they’re going to partake in some polite glue sniffing… like you do. The track itself is gritty and raw and along with the rest of their first album, stunned the world into paying attention to this brand new punk phenomenon.
She’s The One (from Road To Ruin) 1978
One of the greatest love songs ever committed to a punk rock backing track. Fast and furious but with one sentiment, that she’s the one. Like most of The Ramones earlier tracks they’d zone in on one point and smash it to pieces. This tracks no different but the results are wonderful.
I Don’t Want To Grow Up (from Adios Amigos!) 1995
The more than certain announcement that the band were set to retire from recording and touring was sad enough, the name of the album only makes it worse, and of course with the loss of Joey only six years later, it becomes just heart breaking, but this final album, for all its faults, kicks off in glorious fashion and actually takes a trip right back to the beginning, with buzzsaw guitars and an angst riddled and moody declaration that The Ramones just don’t want to grow up and commit to adulthood. None of us do Joey…
Pet Sematary (from Brain Drain) 1989
As the 80’s came to an end, a lot had changed in the music world from sound to style, but The Ramones remained steadfast and maintained their punk rock edge. Although they did provide a soundtrack for the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ novel. Despite the odd content, the vocals are melodic and soulful and remains one of their best works.
Blitzkreig Bop (from Ramones) 1976
Without a doubt, the most famous and well known track by The Ramones, and rightfully so. The one that started it all and from their most iconic album also. You can still hear this one played on TV adverts, in movies and even in video games, and will live forever, as will the memory of the vocalist on the track, the incredible Joey Ramone.
Strength To Endure (from Mondo Bizarro) 1992
After Dee Dee Ramone left the band it was unthinkable that he could be replaced, but then they discovered CJ Ramone and a youthful injection of power and new energy was shot into the arm of the legendary outfit. This one may not have featured Joey at all, due to his ailing health, but it has to be recognised as one of their finest later tracks. You can find out 2015 interview with bassist CJ Ramone right here on Mojo20.com.
Wonderful World (from Joey’s debut solo record Don’t Worry About Me) 2002
No Ramones on this one other than the man himself. Released a year after his passing, his solo album was a great introduction to what could have been a brilliant solo career, but nothing beats this brilliant rendition of Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’. It acts as a eulogy and tribute to the legend of Joey Ramone, and it couldn’t have been done any better.
Happy birthday Joey Ramone.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)