"Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits" (Sire/Rhino; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Okay, let's get this out of the way right at the onset - the 30 songs contained on the first CD of this "Toughest Hits" package really earn a four chainsaw rating on their own. They're 30 of the Ramones best rockers. Then why, you may ask, are you only giving this CD a three-and-a-half chainsaw rating? Well, it's because this kind of Ramones anthology has been done before. "Loud, Fast Ramones" really doesn't add much new.

There are a few things: "Loud, Fast Ramones" brings the listener all the way up to the band's final "Adios Amigos" album and that's a good thing because "Adios Amigos" was an incredible CD. And the 30 songs hereon were personally compiled by Johnny Ramone, so you've got his input as well which is helpful. 

Still, it's the same old songs you've heard collected before: "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Commando," "Rock'n'Roll High School," "Mama's Boy," "I Wanna Live" and so on. There are a few surprises here but perhaps not enough to make it worth picking up this collection instead of one of the others. Even the liner notes are appended from liner notes of the previous "Hey Ho, Let's Go: Ramones Anthology" release.

What does make all the difference here is the second bonus CD that is currently packaged with "Loud, Fast Ramones." It's an eight-track CD of the band performing live in 1985 and it's pretty damn cool. You won't get this anywhere else so - if you're a Ramones fan - pick it up soon. If you're not - and you're not sure which anthology to start with - try "Loud, Fast Ramones."

I don't know if the bonus CD will be a permanent fixture on "Loud, Fast Ramones" or not, but it's the deciding factor on whether to buy this or, say, "RamonesMania." 

For more information, please visit http://www.officialramones.com

"Greatest Hits Live" (Radioactive; 1996)

Reviewed by Snidermann

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I like simple music that is strong and easy to listen to - what better way to describe the music of the legendary Ramones. 

"Greatest Hits Live" contains 18 songs, none longer than 3½ minutes. What band today could pack that kind of music into that kind of time? The Ramones are punk rock at its purest. There are no hidden meanings or ulterior motives, just good clean music that moves at such a pace most of the songs flash by you in a blur of buzzing audio. In that time a story has been told from start to finish - it may only have seven words total but, what the hell, that's the beauty of it. 

This CD was originally released in 1996 and showcases some of The Ramones' great live tunes. Included here are "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Spiderman," (if they don't use this in the movie, they are making a serious mistake), "I Don't Want To Grow Up," "Pet Sematary" and the Lemmy-penned tribute "R.A.M.O.N.E.S."

This shit is simple, fast and in your face, just the way good ... no, make that great ... punk rock should be. Rock'n'roll lost a true legend when the great Joey Ramone died in 2001. Nobody can take ever his place, but thankfully we have some totally awesome music to listen to so the voice of Joey Ramone will never truly be silenced. Goodbye Joey. We will never forget you or your totally fucking incredible music.

For more information, please visit http://www.officialramones.com

"Adios Amigos" (Radioactive; 1995)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Nobody can tell me different: The Ramones went out in a blaze of glory.

The legendary band; these pioneers of punk, released one of their very best albums with their final studio release, 1996's "Adios Amigos." It's so pure Ramones I can hardly listen to it without misting up.

It's got everything you want in a Ramones release: fast guitar chords, Joey's trademark scary monster vocals; funny lyrics ("Got a Lot to Say," "Crusher"); serious lyrics ("She Talks To Rainbows"; "Born to Die In Berlin"); a song about cretins ("Cretin Family"). "Adios Amigos" has got it all.

Longtime Ramones producer Daniel Rey and the band do some of their very best work here. If you're a Ramones fan, pick up this CD immediately. If you're not, pick it up anyway and discover for yourself why the Ramones were so great.

RAMONES: Joey Ramone - lead vocals; background vocals; Johnny Ramone - guitar; Marky Ramone - drums; C.J. Ramone - bass and vocals.

For more information, please visit http://www.officialramones.com

"Loco Live" (Sire; 1991)ramonesloco.jpg (17842 bytes)

Reviewed by Pud

Recorded live in Barcelona,  Spain, 1992's "Loco Live" is a cool collection of most of the Ramones hits. 33 pop  punk ditties from the best band ever to play Rough Edge type music. 

The songs are all shredding, of course, and Johnny's guitar sound comes across nice and heavy. Unfortunately, Joey's vocals show the wear and tear of years of touring and living a punk rock lifestyle. 

All in all, this is a must have for Ramones fans. This is a cool CD to get if you are a casual fan due to the sheer number of killer songs.

"End of the Century" (Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino; 1980)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

At the time it was released, "End of the Century" was probably considered one of the most bizarre producer/artist combinations in rock'n'roll history. Legendary producer Phil Spector, producer of such hits as "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me" and artists such as the Beatles, Cher and Dion, behind the board of a new album by the Ramones, equally legendary punk rockers. According to the extensive liner notes in this spectacular, re-mastered special re-issue, it wasn't an easy liaison either. The end result, however, ends up being one of the Ramones most unique and enduring albums.

Starting off with the now-classic "Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio," "End of the Century" lets you know instantly that you're in for a different Ramones experience. The guitars sound different, the production is ... well, wider, and there are keyboards and horns. Following are the hard-rocking, angst-driven "I'm Affected," the ballad "Danny Says" (which has been compared to the Beach Boys' sound), a sequel to the band's earlier "Judy Is a Punk," entitled "The Return of Jackie & Judy," a cover of Spector's own "Baby I Love You" and, of course, farther down the line, "Rock'n'Roll High School."

While "End of the Century" may not be considered one of the Ramones best albums, it is certainly one of the most unique and, despite its rocky creation, it holds up incredibly well.

Also included in this re-mastered re-issue are six bonus tracks including demos of "Danny Says," "I'm Affected," "Please Don't Leave," "All the Way" and "Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio," a soundtrack version of "I Want You Around" and a radio ad for the album.

RAMONES: Joey Ramone - vocals; Johnny Ramone - guitar; Dee Dee Ramone - bass; Marky Ramone - drums. Also performing on "End of the Century" are Dan Kessel & David Kessel - guitars; Barry Goldberg - piano, organ; Steve Douglas - saxophone; Jim Keltner - drums; Sean Donahue - disc jockey on "Do You Remember Rock'n'Roll Radio?"

For more information, please visit http://www.officialramones.com

"End of the Century" (Sire/Warner Bros./Rhino; 1980)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This 1979 Ramones release is a CD with two distinct, and I think warring, sides. On one hand, there's the distinct sound of the Ramones. On the other is the sound of Phil Spector, producer, which is total shit.

Spector's heavy-handed production style has taken the classic sound of the Ramones and slowed it down and slicked it up to the point that it sounds as though it's straight out of the 1950's. Just think of Bill Haley and The Comets and the "American Graffiti" soundtrack and you get the idea. It's outdated, bubble gum and, frankly, boring. 

Why the hell would you overproduce the Ramones? Obviously Phil Spector wanted something out the Ramones that the Ramones are just no about. "End of the Century" is like kissing your sister - it's nice but you don't get anything out of it. A better description might be John Travolta's line from the film "Swordfish": "It's like masturbation without the payoff." 

The two chainsaw score for "End of the Century" is solely for the Ramones. Phil Spector and his so-called "production" get zero. If you ask me, Spector really fucked up this recording.

"Road to Ruin" (Sire; 1978)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This classic album by the Ramones is a highlight not only of the Ramones' legendary career, but also of rock'n'roll in general. With their low-slung guitars, three chord songs and driving rhythm - not to mention the scary monster vocals of the late, great Joey Ramone, the Ramones basically defined what rock was all about - guitars, drums, bass and street lyrics. 

"Road to Ruin" begins with "I Just Want to Have Something To Do," a pure, 100% Ramones tune that features a guitar finale that - to this day - rates among the most powerful ever recorded. As pure and simple as it is, it still solidly kicks your ass. Other Ramones classics hereon include "I Wanted Everything," "I'm Against It," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "She’s the One" and the popular cover of Sonny Bono's (yes, Sonny Bono!) "Needles and Pins." 

Throughout the 31 minutes of this CD, the Ramones never let up. They play their somehow retro yet always evergreen style of punk rock with style, talent, and, again, a purity that has never been matched. "Road To Ruin," originally recorded in 1978, remains one of the seminal moments in hard rock history. 

Ramones: Johnny Ramone – guitar; Joey Ramone – lead vocals; Dee Dee Ramone – bass; Marky Ramone – drums.

For more information, please visit http://www.officialramones.com

"Ramones" (Sire; 1976)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I remember listening to this recording on cassette tape back on the late 70s. If you know anything about cassette tapes they have a limited life span. Sometimes, it is longer than others. This tape was in bad shape when I first listened to it. It had spent way too much time in the sun when I first ran across it. Sometimes the music would fade out and sometimes it would stop playing altogether. One of my best friends (Dave) had a brother who worked in the oil fields of Northern Michigan. He made very good money—doing who knows what—but some of it involved dynamite. To me, this dude was as fucking cool as then come. To a fourteen-year-old, this was what it was like to have it all. He had a cool car, an apartment, a beautiful and well-stacked girlfriend. They would invite Dave and I to the beach sometimes (fresh water only in Northern Michigan). He and his friends would eat BBQ hamburgers, drink beer, smoke a little weed and listen to a lot of different kinds of music.

Needless to say, Dave’s brother had a big effect on me. One of the tapes he would put in was The Ramones' debut release. At first, I thought it was simply crap, but after a few beers (one) and some weed (two hits), it sounded like a Philharmonic Orchestra. Since that first hit me, I have been a big fan ever since. I got away from that music for a bit when I was in the US Navy, but in the late 80s and early 90's it came back to me strong. I found myself right back there again, just like I was listening to that old scratchy tape in the back seat of what every car Dave’s brother had at the time.

The Ramones' music is simple but powerful, straight-forward with no bullshit, just music. There are no hidden meanings to this music and if you a re looking for them, you are listening to the wrong music. The Ramones changed the musical landscape forever, one two-minute song at a time, and it all started with this recording.

Sadly, most of the members are gone now, but their music will live for the next thousand years. Just remember ... "Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat." Nothing else needs be said.

For more information, please visit http://www.officialramones.com

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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