Thursday, 4 May 2017

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Ramones Songs

One top ten I've really put off doing since starting this blog, aside from my own top ten punk rock influences, is a top ten Ramones songs. For me The Ramones are always my go to answer when asked who is the greatest punk rock band of all time. I love each and every one of their songs so picking a top ten is an almost impossible job. The Ramones mean as much to me as any other band so I really don't want to do them an injustice with my selections. Recently Emma has been showing more interest in The Ramones and has been asking me to make a playlist of songs for her to become more familiar with the band. I figured I may as well kill two birds with one stone and do the playlist and a top ten. Here is my top ten Ramones songs.

10. Outsider from Subterranean Jungle

Appearing on The Ramones' seventh album, Subterranean Jungle, Outsider was written by Dee Dee Ramone. Subterranean Jungle saw The Ramones revert back to a more focussed punk rock sound, after experimenting with more pop sensibilities, in an effort to expand their fan base. Outsider works as an anthem for the bad experiences trying to break into the pop market and feeling like an Outsider.

9. Judy Is A Punk from Ramones

Judy Is A Punk is my favourite from The Ramones self-titled debut album. While it might not be as well know as Blitzkrieg Bop or Beat On The Brat amongst more casual Ramones listeners, the song has always felt like the strongest from self-titled to me. Musically it's incredibly simple and Joey's story-like lyrics show some early fantastic songwriting. It's also as catchy as anything The Ramones ever wrote.

8. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker from Rocket To Russia

Rocket To Russia is probably my favourite of all The Ramones albums. Written by Joey, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker showcases his love of surf rock and bubblegum pop with its upbeat nature and catchy lyrics. The character, Sheena, is from the comic books Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle and the idea behind the song is the belief that if Sheena found her way to the city from the savage jungle she would be a punk rocker.

7. Pet Sematary from Brain Drain

1989's Brain Drain was the band's eleventh album and was the last to feature Dee Dee Ramone. It features one of his greatest songs, Pet Sematary. The song came to be after The Ramones visited novelist Stephen King's house and Dee Dee was handed a copy of his novel, Pet Sematary. Dee Dee went down to the basement and came back an hour later with this song that would become one of the band's biggest radio hits.

6. I Wanna Be Sedated from Road To Ruin

I Wanna Be Sedated was originally released in 1979 on the band's fourth album, Road To Ruin. Joey wrote the song whilst being on tour in the UK one Christmas and having nothing to do. The song is about finding a way to cure the boredom of being on tour before it's time to play your show. Many of the biggest names in rock music have covered I Wanna Be Sedated over the years including The Adicts, Operation Ivy, The Offspring, New Found Glory, Vince Neil and The Go-Gos.

5. Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio from End Of The Century

The opening track from The Ramones' fifth album, Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio saw a bit of a departure from the traditional Ramones sound. This was due to an attempt to gain a bit of commercial success with new producer, Phil Spector. Added to this song were piano and brass instruments whereas in the past the band stuck with the basic guitar, bass, drums arrangements. Despite its different style, I've always really enjoyed the song - it's always got my feet tapping and my hips shaking.

4. The KKK Took My Baby Away from Pleasant Dreams

There was always a big rumour going around that Joey Ramone wrote The KKK Took My Baby away about an incident with Johnny Ramone 'stealing away' Joey's girlfriend, Linda. Those rumours have always been denied but it does show the fragile state the band's friendship was in at this point of their careers. The relationship between Joey and Johnny was always tough but the two always managed to make fantastic music together anyway.

3. Rock 'N' Roll High School from End Of The Century

When you think of The Ramones you have to think fast, catchy pop punk - nothing sums up the band more that Rock 'N' Roll High School. Taken from the Rock 'N' Roll High School movie soundtrack that The Ramones actually appeared in, it's about not wanting to be in school and having the urge to rebel. Marky Ramones' drumming is absolutely superb on this song and is a lesson to anyone who wants to learn how to drum and be a band's engine room.

2. Rockaway Beach from The Ramones

It was such a tough decision not to put Rockaway Beach as number one on this list, if I were to write it again next week maybe it would be. Rockaway Beach is one of those songs that just makes me smile - whatever my mood might be. Rockaway Beach was written by Dee Dee Ramone and was The Ramones' highest charting single of their entire career - peaking at number 66 on the Billboard Top 100. Dee wrote the song about Rockaway Beach in New York where he loved to spend time but for me it's the perfect song for any beach adventure.

1. My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) from Animal Boy

One reason I love this song is because it helped me with the pub quiz question "What was the name of Ronald Reagan's monkey?" The lyrics were a huge departure from The Ramones usual style with a much more serious tone. The song is a reaction to then President Reagan visiting a military cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany. A move that was criticised by many all over the world. Joey's voice is much more pained and has a great snarl that was not featured on many Ramones songs. Written by Joey and Dee Dee, this shows just what incredible songwriters the two were - changing up their style for an issue that was important to them and still producing a perfect punk rock song.

That's my list of top ten Ramones songs. I should really do a list of honourable mentions as I'm sure anyone reading this list will disagree with it. And you might suggest something and I'll probably then agree with you. To be honest, I love every song The Ramones ever put out - they were the best. The Ramones were/are one of the most important bands in the history of music, not just the genre of punk rock. Imagine what music and your life would be like if The Ramones hadn't decided to just play simple three chord songs as fast as they possibly could.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark

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