The first band emerging from 1970s New York punk scene to issue an album, the Ramones established the template for the movement: frenetic tempos, terse songs—often less than two minutes in length, stripped-down arrangements featuring buzz-saw guitars, humorously moronic lyrics, and a scruffy transmogrified hippie-greaser (torn blue jeans and leather jackets) fashion sense. After touring the U.K. in mid-1976, their bash-trash-pop sound and cartoonish attitude would be copied by countless new English punk acts—indeed, the Ramones’ recordings would always find a more receptive audience in Great Britain.
The Ramones’ eponymous debut (Sire 7520; 1976)—released at a time when radio was ruled by corporate AOR rock, polished Top Forty singles, and the lush progressive rock of Pink Floyd, Genesis, and the like—was one of the most revolutionary albums in rock history. The band’s studied primitivism would be maintained over a long string of critically lauded LPs, including Leave Home (Sire 7528; 1977; #45 UK), Rocket to Russia (Sire 6042; 1977; #60 UK, #49 US), Road to Ruin (Sire 6063; 1978; #32 UK), and It’s Alive (Sire 26074; 1979; #27).
Following the band’s first lineup change—with the departure of drummer Tommy Ramone (aka Tom Erdelyi), Marc Bell (aka Marky Ramone) joining mainstays lead vocalist Joey Ramone (aka Jeffrey Hyman), guitarist Johnny Ramone (John Cummings), and bassist Dee Dee Ramone (aka Douglas Colvin)—and a growing sense that the formula had grown stale, the Ramones enlisted wall-of-sound producer Phil Spector to assist in the making of the more polished End of the Century (Sire 6077; 1980; #14 UK, #44 US). Subsequent releases—Pleasant Dreams (Sire 3571; 1981; #58 US), Subterranean Jungle (Sire 23800; 1983; #83 US), Too Tough to Die (Sire 25187; 1984; #63 UK), Animal Boy (Sire 25433; 1986; #38 UK), Halfway to Sanity (Sire 25641; 1987; #78 UK), Brain Drain (Sire 25905; 1989; #73 UK), Live Loco (Sire 1901; 1991), and Mondo Bizarro (Radioactive 10615; 1992)—paled in comparison to the output of the leading hardcore groups of the 1980s.
Unable to capitalize on the punk revival of the early 1990s, the Ramones issued a tribute to the Sixties songs that had inspired them in the first place, Acid Eaters (Radioactive 10913; 1993), followed by farewell album, Adios Amigos (Radioactive 11273; 1995; #62 UK), and tour, documented by the live set, We’re Outta Here! (Radioactive 11555; 1997).
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