Hey! Ho! Let’s go! It’s the 40th anniversary of Ramones’ Rocket To Russia, for which Warner are re-releasing a remastered edition; in addition to that seminal record, here are the key albums by the band that was The Beatles for brats – New York’s classic punk-pop group known for their “1-2- 3-4” no-mucking-about performances and memorable, economic songs.
In an iconic street-punk cover (get it on vinyl so you can frame it) the group delivered a classic debut which in places sounded like The Beach Boys on speed – 14 songs in less than 30 minutes – and forged their love of ‘60s girl groups, flat-tack rock’n’roll and a view from the glue-sniffin’ comers of New York in the damaged and dangerous ‘70s. Bottled electrotherapy punkpop… and the 40th anniversary deluxe edition comes as three CDs (remastered stereo and mono mixes, outtakes, demos and live material) and the vinyl.
Leave Home (1976)
Again chock-full of classic songs and riffs (Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, I Remember You, Carbona Not Glue, Suzy Is A Headbanger, California Sun) but again it didn’t do as well as it should have. That became the Ramones story: critical acclaim but no chart gain.
Rocket To Russia (1977)
The third essential album in a row (Rockaway Speed, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Teenage Lobotomy, I Can’t Give You Anything alongside ‘50s covers Do You Wanna Dance? and Surfin’ Bird) but again, disappointing sales. It looked like their career might be as short as their songs, but they soldiered on for almost two decades, mostly to diminishing sales and song quality returns.
It’s Alive (1979)
Recorded live in London on December 31, 1977, this release captured them at their peak. The setlist drew on cornerstone songs from those first three albums, and they set a landspeed record delivering them: 28 songs in 54 minutes. One of the classic live albums.
Yes, you can cheat because the 99 double- CD set Hey Ho Let’s Go!: The Anthology scooped up 58 songs (all their classics) from right across their career. It confirmed the band were smarted than they looked and deserved better in their era than they got. One of the truly great rock’n’roll bands, and – just like the young Beatles – they had a band uniform. How could they not succeed?
Rocket To Russia (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) is out now via Warner.