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"We're a Happy Family: A Tribute to the Ramones" (DV8 / Columbia)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that the punk bands on this long-awaited, superstar Ramones tribute album fare the best of the 16 tracks contained herein. Green Day, Rancid and The Offspring all display the same kind of high energy that the Ramones were famous for and their covers here (listed below) are the most immediately likeable. 

Although it's safe to say there isn't a bad cover tune on the CD, there are a couple that take a little getting used to. Surprisingly, many of the artists hereon opted to remove another famous Ramones trademark: speed. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Rob Zombie and Tom Waits have all slowed the pace of their covers from the original songs although with some success, especially Waits, whose raw and barebones version of "Return of Jackie and Judy" is an album highlight.

Interestingly, KISS (once one of my favorite bands but who have fallen from grace in recent years) and U2 (a band I don't usually care for) score big time with their respective covers, as does Marilyn Manson whose way differently-paced "The KKK Took My Baby Away" gets big points for eerie atmosphere alone.

By the way, the liner notes by best-selling author Stephen King are nearly worth the price of admission alone.

Bottom line: Ramones fans and fans of the bands herein will want to add "We're A Happy Family" to their collection, but - more than anything else - this is further proof of how great the Ramones really were. My only question: What the hell happened to Motorhead's cover of "Rockaway Beach" and Static-X's "Gimme Shock Treatment" and the other tunes reportedly recorded for this release?

Red Hot Chili Peppers
  "Havana Affair"
Rob Zombie "Blitzkrieg Bop'
Eddie Vedder feat. Zeke "I Believe in Miracles"
Metallica "53rd & 3rd"
U2 "Beat on the Brat"
KISS "Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio?"
Marilyn Manson "The KKK Took My Baby Away"
Garbage - "I Just Want to Have Something to Do"
Green Day "Outsider"
Pretenders "Something to Believe In"
Rancid "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"
Pete Yorn "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"
The Offspring "I Wanna Be Sedated"
Rooney "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"
Tom Waits "Return of Jackie and Judy"
Eddie Vedder feat. Zeke "Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love)" ("Limited Edition bonus track")
John Frusciante
"Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World" (Hidden track)

Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:50 -0400.