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In 1974, the New York City music scene was shocked into consciousness by the violently new and raw sound of a band of misfits from Queens, called The Ramones. Playing in a seedy Bowery bar to a small group of fellow struggling musicians, the band struck a chord of disharmony that rocked the foundation of the mid-'70s music scene. This quartet of unlikely rock stars traveled across the country and around the world connecting with the disenfranchised everywhere, while sparking a movement that would resonate with two generations of outcasts across the globe. Although the band never reached the top of the Billboard charts, it managed to endure by maintaining a rigorous touring schedule for 22 years.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Man, when I think about that frail, tall, slightly off-kilter character, and how painful his life was, it almost breaks my heart. The only reason it doesn't is because Joey fronted the coolest punk band of all time, and he did so with such amazing style and panache. Way to overcome your limitations! Joey was a victim of pretty bad OCD, and had every reason to believe he would spend his life a loser. Well, Jeff, (his real name,) you were a winner, even if cancer took you way too young.
I heard my first Ramones album in the late seventies. It was the newly released Rocket to Russia, and at the time I had been listening to stadium rock like Kiss and Rush and the junk on the radio with this kid named Steve Hiltner at Ridgemount Jr. High School. Luckily for us, Steve had an older brother who played guitar, and he influenced us to listen to this grinding guitar based insanity that was the Ramones. MAN! When I heard "Teenage Lobotomy" coming out over my stereo speakers, it probably changed me forever.
There was never a punk band as good as the Ramones, and this film does a great job of showing their tragic, and yet strangely inspiring story. These guys WERE SERIOUS! They really were. That's what made them so good. They wrote really great songs with really great hooks and melodies and lyrics, and yet they did it with three or four chords and snappy 4/4 drumming that varied little from song to song. The old "idiot savant" label could easily apply to their lack of musical sophistication coupled with such excellent natural artistry. Everyone needs to see this movie. Everyone needs to understand the true REAL nature of rock and roll, and how it's not about being a big rock star, and a guitar god, and that corporate BS that's been shoveled down our throats for the longest time.
Sure, I love to hear Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and the "big names" of big rock, but we must never forget the Stooges and the NY Dolls and Lou Reed, and those who HAD to play rock and roll, because their lives were just too bizarre not to.
Long live the Ramones!
I really really loved these guys. I can't believe three of them are dead.
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