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joeyramone yaknow
Artist: Joey Ramone
Title: ...Ya Know?
Genre: Punk Rock
Release Date: 25th May 2012
Label: Miutated Music


Album Review

Posthumous albums are notoriously difficult to assess. It’s inevitable that they’re broadly judged with a sense of finality and retrospection, and all too often prompt musings on the context of their recording and what might have been. That both of Joey Ramone’s solo albums have emerged after his death is perhaps telling, not least of all where ‘Ya Know?’ is concerned. It is, after all, eleven years since the punk legend passed away, aged just 49. Why so long?

First, it’s important to realise that ‘Ya Know?’ wasn’t conceived or recorded as an album proper by the artist, and is instead a compilation of odds and sods, including two re-recordings of RAMONES songs, committed to tape between 1977 and 2001. It also features guest appearances and collaborations with an array of artists including Joan Jett and Little Steven Van Zandt, who plays guitar on ‘Party Line’. The roll-call also features former RAMONES drummer Richie Ramone, Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos, Dennis Diken of the Smithereens, Richie Stotts, Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, Holly Beth Vincent, and members of The Dictators and producers Jean Beauvoir and Joe Blaney.

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Is the Answer’ - co-written with PLASMATICS guitarist Richie Stotts - provides an appropriately quintessential RAMONES -like punk rock (blitzkrieg) bop-along. From the first play it has an air of familiarity, aided by its readily accessible poppy sing-along chorus.

It can’t be a surprise to anyone that this sets the tone and tempo for much of the album. Sure, there’s more chug to the bass-driven ‘Going Nowhere Fast’, and ‘Seven Days of Gloom’ thumps along doing the classic four-chord thing superbly, but they don’t deviate far from the tried and tested RAMONES template. Any why should they? The RAMONES invented this sound and made a career out of punching away at four chords for three minutes. If ‘...Ya Know?’ didn’t sound like The Ramones, there’d be a lot of very disappointed - not to mention bewildered - fan out there. On that front, ‘...Ya Know?’ doesn’t disappoint. ‘There’s Got to be More to Life’ and ‘21st Century Girl’ are indistinguishable from RAMONES tracks, and are equal in standard. Meanwhile, ‘Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)’ is a RAMONES song, albeit in a rather different shape from the original.

But then there’s the full-on caffeinated rockabilly jitter of ‘I Couldn’t Sleep’ and the balladry of ‘Waiting For That Railroad’, which isn’t only a genuinely touching number, but also shows off Joey’s ability to deliver a proper rock ‘n’ roll (in the 50s sense) croon. ‘What Did I Do To Deserve You?’ is an up-tempo stomper that sounds like Bob Dylan fronting THE CLASH. ‘Party Line’ begins with a reverb-heavy drum that sounds like THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN’s ‘Just Like Honey’ before snaking into a proper slice of prom-night rock ‘n’ roll that would be right at home on the soundtrack of a retro teen movie. There’s even a lightly psychedelic folk edge to ‘Make Me Tremble’. These moments provide important reminders of the fact that Joey Ramone wasn’t purely about one-dimensional dumb fun punk rock, and there are further surprises in store: ‘Cabin Fever’ features a synth intro before the guitars stroll in. But of course, the dumb fun punk rock is what Joey’s best known for, and ‘...Ya Know’ is packed with plenty of nuggets of that variety. And of course, Joey’s voice... well, it’s truly distinctive. There’s no escaping the fact that the guy singing these songs is Joey Ramone.

The last track, the acoustic ‘Life’s a Gas’ can’t be anything but poignant in context. With the refrain “don’t be sad”, it serves as a fitting sign off. It’s hard not to be, but at least Joey got to leave a substantial body of work, and to make a real impact on the music world. Regardless of context - and it’s best not to dwell on that, really - ‘...Ya Know’ is a cracking album by any standards, and there’s a lot to enjoy here.


Tracklist

01. Rock 'n Roll Is The Answer
02. Going Nowhere Fast
03. New York City
04. Waiting For That Railroad
05. I Couldn't Sleep
06. What Did I Do To Deserve You?
07. Seven Days Of Gloom
08. Eyes Of Green
09. Party Line
10. Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)
11. 21st Century Girl
12. There's Got To Be More To Life
13. Make Me Tremble
14. Cabin Fever
15. Life's A Gas


Website

http://www.joeyramone.com/


Cover Picture

joeyramone yaknow


Rating

Music: 8
Sound: 7
Total: 7.5 /10


Buy the album here!


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