It may not be Thursday, in fact it’s a stormy Friday night here in the UK, so a #ThrowbackThursday feature doesn’t really have any context here, but upon the realisation of this punk rock anniversary, some rules had to be bent as I felt compelled to speak about this album a little bit.
Today marked twenty-five years since the release of the twelth studio album by punk rock pioneers The Ramones, and ‘Mondo Bizarro’ deserves recognition for a multitude of different reasons. To start with, it spelled the end for The Ramones as they had just endured eighteen years of touring, writing, recording and all amongst a dysfunctional and crazy setting that’d make Fleetwood Mac seem like the cast of Friends. Marky Ramone had been let go from the band for alcolholism, and then rehired after trying out two other drummers, Dee Dee Ramone had finally left the band behind, vacating his spot as the bands legendary bass guitarist and main songwriter. Jonny and Joey had already been dragged through a love triangle and that was on top of their opposing political views and their iconic buzzsaw, fast paced, two and a half minute maximum song duration style was a distant memory. Johnny Ramone went on record as saying “Their was nothing he liked about this album” but for long time fans, there was plenty to love about this penultimate, original studio record.
One of the finest things about it was the introduction of brand new bass player, the much fresher, much younger C.J Ramone, who took on vocals where Joey’s health deteriorated and breathed new life into a band that many said was stuck in the 70’s. C.J provided vocals for the awesome ‘Strength To Endure’ which gave them such a modern spin they could hang, sound wise, with all the modern punk bands that they’d influenced all those years before.
The album however is not wall to wall classics like their first four or five albums, as it does feature some duds, especially on the later remastered edition which featured bonus tracks ‘Touring’ and ‘Spiderman’ which is exactly what you think, the theme tune to the old Spider-Man show. Tracks like ‘Censorshit’ and ‘The Job That Ate My Brain’ immediately lead you to believe that this album may not be so great, but then you come across their most epic sounding and memorable, in my opinion, of the later recordings ‘Poison Heart’. This song holds a hidden sentiment and a soul wrenching sadness, but layered behind those shredding guitars and up-tempo drum rolls. It’s a classic and was one of the songs that made me initially fall in love with The Ramones, 11 years ago.
Upping the ante throughout with high octane rock n roll from the likes of ‘Anxiety’, ‘Tomorrow She Goes Away’ and an amazing cover of The Doors first album gem, ‘Take It As It Comes’. With all of this in mind, the incredible tracks, the freshness of a new, younger member, incredible production by Ed Stasium and a sense that the end was near, this album holds everything from sentiment to fun, from rock n roll epitomised to punk rock celebration. With all of the original members of the band having sadly passed away, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy it’s important to reminisce on one of the best bands on the planet, that you may never have paid attention to. Also, knowing that C.J, Marky and even Richie Ramone are still playing, touring and recording, it’s great to see the flag still be flown proudly for music that was exciting, fun, with no self indulgence and no patience for hanging around. Long live The Ramones.
Words by Stuart Green (mojo20_music)