Thursday, 31 May 2018

Steeleye Span - Rocket Cottage (1976)

What makes you go abroad, fighting for strangers? ....

  

Released September 1976

Recorded in Hilversum, Holland

Along with its predecessor, this is possibly Steeleye Span’s finest example of commercial folk rock. Once again produced by Mike Batt of Wombles “fame” (indeed, a little known fact is that several members of Steeleye Span were the musicians behind The Wombles, even donning Womble costumes to appear on “Top Of The Pops” as the furry litter picker-uppers), the album perfectly blended traditional British folk songs with a rousing electric guitar and pounding drum sound. Then, of course, as always, there was vocalist Maddy Prior’s excellent folk voice.

The album is perhaps the band's most rock-influenced album, with very prominent guitars and a strong rhythm section. Some found it too overpowering, though. Certainly, the folk purists among the band’s following were not too happy with the album, seeing it as a commercial sell-out. As it was, it didn’t sell well, as punk was starting to be the order of the day by its release. The previous album had sold well, however, maybe this one just came out at the wrong time.

TRACK LISTING

1. London

2. The Bosnian Hornpipes
3. Orfeo/Nathan's Reel
4. The Twelve Witches
5. The Brown Girl
6. Fighting For Strangers
7. Sligo Maid
8. Sir James The Rose
9. The Drunkard                                              

Standout tracks, for me, however, are the afore-mentioned evocative narrative Sir James The Rose, and the adaptation of the hymn To Be A Pilgrim - the haunting Fighting For Strangers. London is a fine, vocally harmonious opener and Orfeo sees the band even getting a little funky at times with a bit of wah-wah guitar. The Twelve Witches is a nod to a more folky, vocal-dominated past and The Brown Girl is an understated classic, actually. It even has a semi-funky, soulful bit in the middle. The wah-wah comes out again for the upbeat, vibrant Irish-influenced instrumental, Sligo Maid and funky guitar blends with traditional Irish fiddle. Top drumming from Nigel Pegrum on this one too.

The final track, The Drunkard sees the band begin it with an impromptu version of Camptown Races which singer Maddy Prior admits was done at a time of high drunkenness. Eventually, she pulls a superb vocal performance out of her hat, somehow.

Put the best tracks from this and the previous album together and you would have a great album.One sensed that band were at something of a crossroads at this point.

Indeed, unhappy with having to go along with this overly commercial approach, though, members Peter Knight and Bob Johnson left the band. I have to say I feel they were overreacting a bit. It is still a decidedly folky album in parts. Knight would return several years later, however.


C+

steeleyespan.org.uk/

Steeleye Span - Wintersmith (2013)

Fire burn, fireplace so bright....

  

Released October 2013

Pretty much all of Steeleye Span's huge canon of material is derived in one way or another from historical sources - ballads, poems, early folk songs and so on. Not so here. This is an album of original work based on the late Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" novels. Now, I have to admit that I have no knowledge of Pratchett's work, nor interest in it. I am a long time fan of Steeleye Span, however. I love this album. The songs are all different, many of them captivating and atmospheric and some of them heartbreakingly sad.

TRACK LISTING

1. Overture

2. The Dark Morris Song
3. Wintersmith
4. You
5. The Good Witch
6. Band Of Teachers
7. The Wee Free Men
8. Hiver
9. Fire & Ice
10. The Making Of A Man
11. Crown Of Ice
12. First Dance
13. The Dark Morris Tune
14. The Summer Lady
15. Ancient Eyes
16. We Shall Wear Midnight                                    

Played to the usual high standard, the album is a joy from start to finish. Personal highlights for me are the upbeat Dark Morris Song which sets the atmosphere for the album and the haunting title track, Wintersmith which introduces us to the character of the Wintersmith. The romantic You is beautiful and The Making Of A Man is a delight. Indeed, all the tracks are enjoyable. It is like reading a book. The Good Witch is surprisingly touching, and Fire And Ice and Crown Of Ice are robust, vibrant songs. 

The album ends with violinist Peter Knight's tour de force, the emotional We Shall Wear Midnight which sees a character from the book asking the author Pratchett how he will go on to portray her, particularly, as it seems, he wasn't long for this world (as was the case). Truly moving.

The best edition to go for is the two CD edition which contains some excellent bonus tracks not considered for the original album and a number of live cuts from the accompanying "Wintersmith Tour”.

B+

Steeleye Span - All Around My Hat (1975)

What care I for your goose-feather bed....



Released October 1975

Recorded at Air Studios, London

TRACK LISTING

1. Black Jack Davy
2. Hard Times Of Old England
3. Cadgwith Anthem
4. Sum Waves
5. The Wife of Ushers Well
6. Gamble Gold/Robin Hood
7. All Around My Hat
8. Dance With Me
9. Bachelors Hall                                        

Steeleye Span’s Mike Batt-produced shot at the big time. Trying for a more commercial, chart-friendly style of folk-rock, Batt encouraged them to up the volume on the electric guitars and drums and they certainly do that on some truly excellent tracks - the haunting tale of female unfaithfulness that is Black Jack Davy, the rousing and exhilarating fast fiddle plus electric guitar rock of Hard Times Of Old England and, of course, the only real hit single they ever had (not including the Christmas novelty Gaudete) in the rumbustuous singalong fun of All Around My Hat.

Cadgwith Anthem is a beautiful a Capella, with a lovely brass part at the end, that sees the band returning to their true folk roots, as indeed does the instrumental Sum Waves. The Wife Of Usher's Well is a beautifully melodious (with all vocalists taking roles), but sad tale of a wife who loses all three of her sons, presumably in some overseas conflict. Gamble Gold is pleasant enough, though - harmonious vocals and a great drum sound. Dance With Me is another tuneful romp based, apparently, on a Scandinavian folk song, while Bachelors' Hall has an air of grandiose mystery about it, plus some killer guitar and violin, particularly at the end.

One listen to Maddy Prior’s voice soaring along with the band as the rock kicks in on Hard Times Of Old England is just such a pleasure. Along with The Wife Of Usher’s Well, with Peter Knight’s stunning violin work, two of the band’s finest moments. Furthermore you still can’t beat Maddy’s vocal on All Around My Hat.

B-

Steeleye Span - Commoner's Crown (1975)

Beware of Long Lankin....

  

Released January 1975

Recorded at Morgan Studios, London

TRACK LISTING

1. Little Sir Hugh
2. Bach Goes To Limerick
3. Long Lankin
4. Dogs And Ferrets
5. Galtee Farmer
6. Demon Lover
7. Elf Call
8. Weary Cutters
9. New York Girls                                          

The second of Steeleye Span’s fully-fledged electric folk albums and the last before new producer Mike Batt would help them achieve chart success. After Now We Are Six, with its occasional lapse into poor quality indulgence, this was, thankfully, a far more well-rounded and credible album. Immaculately played, a wonderful mix of heavy guitar riffs, strong drums and folky fiddle parts and, of course, Maddy Prior’s almost medieval voice, the songs on this album are strong and often tragic, as many of these traditional folk ballads were. Little Sir Hugh is about the murder of a young boy and the frightening tale of Long Lankin involves the murder (and possible rape) of a housewife on her own in her house by a mysterious visitor. It is a truly unnerving song. These songs, grisly as they are, are the album’s highlights.



There is also the customary fiddle reel, this time based upon a pice by Bach entitled Bach Goes To Limerick, which merges Bach’s music with an Irish country reel. Demon Lover is a harmonious, catchy and tuneful Irish-sounding song, but to this day I have no idea what it is about and the same applies to the perplexing Elf Call. The latter has a great drum and guitar sound though. Dogs And Ferrets is an appealing slice of traditional ale-swilling English country folk. Sung a capella It lifts the mood somewhat after the morbid Long Lankin. As indeed does the intriguing, lilting folk air of Galtee Farmer, backed by an insistent, throbbing electric guitar.

Weary Cutters is an Irish-sourced a capella folk ballad, faultlessly sung by Prior and New York Girls is a rousing bar-room folk song based in New York, presumably sung there by immigrants from the UK in the late 18th/early 19th century. It suddenly finishes for some reason.

B-

Stevie Wonder - Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)

Hang out with those hoodlum friends of mine....

 

Released September 1976

Recorded in Los Angeles and New York City

Beloved of all the girls I was at school with, 1976’s double album from Stevie Wonder, was, despite accusations of bloatedness (that, to be honest, haunt every double album) his crowning achievement.Firstly, I have to say that the sound on this remaster is SUPERB - clear, sharp and bassy at the same time. Beautiful. Just what this great album deserves.

TRACK LISTING

1. Love's In Need Of Love Today

2. Have A Talk With God
3. Village Ghetto Land
4. Contusion
5. Sir Duke
6. I Wish
7. Knocks Me Off My Feet
8. Pastime Paradise
9. Summer Soft
10. Ordinary Pain
11. Isn't She Lovely
12. Joy Inside My Tears
13. Black Man
14. Ngiculela-Es Una Historia-I Am Singing
15. If It's Magic
16. As
17. Another Star
18. Saturn
19. Ebony Eyes
20. All Day Sucker
21. Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call)

Packed with classics, of course - the funky I Wish; the sheer fun of Sir Duke; the later to be sampled Pastime Paradise and the monumental As, with its wonderful funky second half. There are also other wonderful tracks too - the funky instrumental Contusion; the Talking Book Stevie of Love's In Need Of Love Today the smooth soul of If It's Magic and Summer Soft


The funky second half of Ordinary Pain. Then Joy Inside My Tears and Black Man. They are all excellent. All of them. Even the harmonica solo that ends the otherwise schmaltzy Isn't She Lovely.

The extra tracks included on the old bonus 45 single are good too, particularly the dreamy Saturn and the funk of All Day Sucker.

The “single album would have been better” argument always prevails with double albums. Always has. Personally I am happy to listen to the whole lot.

Although my favourite Stevie Wonder album is Innervisions, you simply can’t deny what an achievement this was. It never got any better than this.

A

The O' Jays - Family Reunion (1975): Travelin' At The Speed Of Thought (1977)


 

Released November 1975 and May 1977

Both recorded at Sigma Studios, Philadelphia

TRACK LISTING

FAMILY REUNION

1. Unity
2. Family Reunion
3. You And Me
4. She's Only A Woman
5. Livin' For The Weekend
6. Stairway To Heaven
7. I Love Music

TRAVELIN' AT THE SPEED OF THOUGHT

1. Travelin' At The Speed Of Light
2. We're All In This Thing Together                    
3. So Glad I Got You, Girl
4. Stand Up
5. Those Lies (Done Caught Up With You This Time)
6. Feelings
7. Work On Me
8. Let's Spend Some Time Together

While not having the sheer quality and hard-hitting social perspective of the first two Philadelphia albums, bot these pieces of work are still eminently listenable. As alluded to earlier, disco had by now entered the mainstream of soul music and tracks like Unity, Travelin' At The Speed Of Light and the hit disco single I Love Music exemplify that. 

There are still quality funk workouts though, like Family Reunion and Living For The Weekend (check out the bass on this one) and addictive sweet slow soul in tracks such as You And Me, the Parliament-style funk vocal of She's Only A Woman, So Glad I Got You, Girl and an impressive cover of Morris Albert’s hit Feelings.

Some have said that the quality tailed off in these two albums. I have to disagree on that one. They are still highly impressive releases. They didn’t sell well, however, and that signified the end of The O’Jays’ best years.

C-/C-


The O'Jays - Survival (1975)

Give the people what they want....

 

Released April 1975

Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia

TRACK LISTING

1. Give The People What They Want
2. Let Me Make Love To You
3. Survival
4. Where Did We Go Wrong
5. Rich Get Richer
6. How Time Flies
7. What Am I Waiting For
8. Never Break Us Up                              

By 1975, unfortunately, it would seem that the time for the O’Jays’ brand if social comment and sweet Philly soul was in the past. A shame, but that was just the way it was. Disco was on its way to change soul music for a while. Most soul acts subsequently felt obliged to put out disco-influenced material. The first notes of Unity from their next album, Family Reunion saw the O’Jays doing just that.

Back to Survival, while not reaching the heights of the previous two albums, there is still some good stuff on here - the syrupy soulful material juxtaposed with the biting, potent funk of the “message” songs. This is still a good album.

The highlight is the anti-big business and finance song in Rich Get Richer, which covers the same ground as For The Love Of Money. Other “aware” songs are Survival and Give The People what They Want

How Time Flies and Let Me Make Love To You are both immaculately delivered slow soul numbers and we are reminded just how good the group were. 

The brooding What Am I Waiting For is possibly the group’s last classic song. A great vocal over a rich bass and horns backing. Like Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The Chi-Lites and Chairmen Of The Board, we should be grateful to the O’Jays for giving us some truly memorable soul music in the first half of the 1970s.

C+

The O' Jays - Ship Ahoy (1973)

They're coming by the hundreds....

 

Released November 1973

Recorded at Sigma Studios, Philadelphia

This, along with its predecessor from the previous year, is part of the two best O’Jays albums on the Philadelphia International label.

TRACK LISTING

1. Put Your Hands Together

2. Ship Ahoy
3. This Air I Breathe
4. You Got Your Hooks In Me
5. For The Love Of Money
6. Now That We've Found Love
7. Don't Call Me Brother
8. People Keep Tellin' Me                           

It ploughs the same furrow as Backstabbers - a mix of social comment and upbeat, melodic Philly soul. Put Your Hands Together is an almost Northern Soul-ish pulsating danceable opener, with more than a hint of Chairmen Of The Board about it, while the extended nine minutes of Ship Ahoy sees a slower, more soulful  pace featuring the group’s excellent harmonies over a tight, bassy backing. However, it is one of the tracks that show that it is possible to combine socially meaningful lyrics without losing the soul or funk. The “ship” in question is a slave ship and references in the lyrics to “cracking of whips” leave the listener in no doubt as to the meaning of the song. The album’s cover reiterates that sad message. This was some five years before Roots, remember. Dig deep into this album and its layers reveal a darkness not immediately apparent.

The Air I Breathe is a return to the commercial, soul pop sound that featured on some of the previous album’s material, but again, the song conveys a message about pollution and the erosion of air quality. While the previous album contained some social comment, there is more on here. Underneath the lush soul sound and the disco/funk rhythms the O’Jays and the songwriters Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff are angry and are going to use the vehicle of soul music to both preach and educate simultaneously.

You Got Your Hooks In Me is unquestionably a soul smoocher, though. Great vocals. It has a seductive saxophone and bass backing too. Then there is the much sampled For The Love Of Money with its pulsating bass line played by Anthony Jackson and earthy lead vocal from Eddie Levert. Not forgetting the brass section breaks. Peerless. Now That We've Found Love is the original of the hit single for reggae band Third World from 1978. Theirs was a truly iconic cover version, but this original version has a sweet soul groove that stimulates too. I was only familiar with the Third World version so it was good to hear this. I was unaware that it was originally a Philly/O’Jays song.

The cynical, lengthy soul blues of Don't Call Me Brother drifts on just a little bit too long, however heartfelt and soulful it undoubtedly is, but the closer People Keep Tellin' Me kicks off with a classic Philly intro and a Harold Melvin-style vocal to reaffirm that even on what is essentially a dark album, albeit with a honey veneer, The O’Jays were still a life-affirming soul combo of the highest order.

As a vital piece of 70s African/American social comment, it is up there with What’s Going On, Curtis, There’s Something About America Today, and There’s A Riot Goin’ On. It is never mentioned in such exalted company, which is a shame.

B+

The O' Jays - Backstabbers (1972)

They're smiling in your face....

  

Released August 1972

Recorded at Sigma Studios, Philadelphia

TRACK LISTING

1. When The World's At Peace
2. Backstabbers
3. Who Am I
4. (They Call Me) Mr. Lucky
5. Time To Get Down
6. 992 Arguments
7. Listen To The Clock On The Wall
8. Shiftless, Shady, Jealous Kind Of People
9. Sunshine
10. Love Train            

Inspired by The Temptations and Sly & The Family Stone in the late 60s and Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye in the early 70s, by 1972 it was almost de rigeur for soul groups to channel their inner social conscience. The O’Jays kick off this, their breakthrough debut album on Philadelphia Records, with a funky “what’s wrong with the world today” slab of social comment in When The World's At Peace. Great start. Thereafter it is pretty much sweet soul all the way, albeit with touches of street wise comment. Beginning with the classic “Philly Soul” of the hit single Backstabbers. The group had produced a few late 60s albums without much success, but it was from here that things really started for them.

Who Am I could have come straight off Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On with its laid back soulful groove and lush, big production orchestration. It is, however a love song, so it would have fitted just as easily on Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. (They Call Me) Mr. Lucky is a typical Philly Soul ballad, while Time To Get Down is one of the first example of that great Philly disco sound popularised by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes as well as The O’Jays. The extended funk/disco workout of 992 Arguments continues in that insistent pulsating vein, with an excellent instrumental last minute or two.

Listen To The Clock On The Wall has a stirring brass backing and Shiftless, Shady, Jealous Kind Of People is straight out of the Curtis Mayfield songbook. Whereas Curtis often laid things on very thick and his backing could on occasions be a bit tinny, here The O‘Jays have a rich full backing and their peerless vocal harmonies to render them a little different from either Mayfield or Gaye.

Sunshine is the album’s purest soul ballad, which is fine, but it breaks the upbeat, funky groove somewhat. Not to worry - the now iconic Love Train finishes things off in magnificent soulful call to arms style.

B+

The Ramones - Pleasant Dreams (1981)

Touring, touring, it's never boring....

  

Released July 1981

Recorded at Media Sound Studios, New York City

A “crossroads” album for The Ramones. Hiring ex-10 cc guitarist Graham Gouldman to produce the album, hoping for more commercial success, it resulted in conflict between band members Joey and Johnny, the latter who wanted the band to concentrate on the raw punk of their first three albums, whereas the singer preferred the more poppier sound to be found here.

TRACK LISTING

1. We Want The Airwaves

2. All Quiet On The Western Front
3. The KKK Took My Baby Away
4. Don't Go
5. You Sound Like You're Sick
6. It's Not My Place (In The 9 To 5 World)
7. She's A Sensation
8. 7-11
9. You Didn't Mean Anything To Me
10. Come On Now
11. This Business Is Killing Me
12. Sitting In My Room
13. Touring
14. I Can't Get You Out Of My Mind                  

Tracks like She’s A Sensation, 7-11 and the mystifying The KKK Took My Baby Away are actually melodic, exciting power pop type songs as indeed is It’s Not My Place (In The 9 to 5 World). Even musically punkier tracks like You Didn’t Mean Anything To Me and We Want The Airwaves have a lighter, tuneful delivery. The harder songs are closer to Black Sabbath-style hard rock than punk, to be honest. The poppy handclaps are omnipresent, however.

This album is really nothing like the first three albums at all (certainly not the first two). Although you can still tell it is The Ramones, even Joey’s voice seemed to carry a different timbre now, trying to be more like his beloved 60s pop.

Music media reaction, on the whole, was negative, feeling the band had “sold out” “gone pop” and the like. This is slightly unfair, one feels. What were The Ramones supposed to do? Produce annual replicas of their first album for the foreseeable future? Had they done so, they would attracted negative feedback for doing just that.

Personally, I have always quite enjoyed this album, although I fully accept that the previous five are the five essential Ramones albums. Here is where their output becomes non-essential.

C



https://www.ramones.com/

The Ramones - End Of The Century (1980)

We can't go surfing 'cos it's twenty below....

 

Released February 1980

Recorded in Hollywood

In 1980, The Ramones brought in the production genius that was the legendary Phil Spector for this, their fifth studio album. They had diversified just a little on their previous album, Road To Ruin and this outing saw them broadening their horizons even more while still remaining true to their punk roots.

TRACK LISTING

1. Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio

2. I'm Affected
3. Danny Says
4. Chinese Rock
5. The Return Of Danny And Judy
6. Let's Go
7. Baby, I Love You
8. I Can't Make It On Time
9. This Ain't Havana
10. Rock 'n' Roll High School
11. All The Way
12. High Risk Insurance

 With Spector's help, they laid down a killer cover of The Ronettes' Baby I Love You, although nothing could hope to compete with the original. Why, it even included orchestration. Strings? On a Ramones record? Wow! 

Rock 'n' Roll Radio was a big production "wall of sound" tribute to old rock n rollers and DJs. Most of the other material was more punky - the catchy Rock 'n' Roll High School (used in the film of the same name; my own personal favourite in All The Way; Richard Hell & The Voidoids' Chinese Rock; This Ain't Havana and High Risk Insurance. All these are punk in nature, but still have a tunefulness to them, as indeed does the almost laid back feel (at times) of I'm Affected

Another favourite is the "slowie", Danny Says about their road manager. Lovely melody and delivery by Joey.

This is just a little different from what we had come to expect from The Ramones, within reason. They even used a few extra bits of percussion and I'm sure there is a acoustic guitar in there somewhere.

C+



https://www.ramones.com/

The Ramones - Road To Ruin (1978)

Twenty twenty twenty four hours to go....

  

Released September 1978

Recorded at Media Sound Studios, New York City

TRACK LISTING (original album)

1. I Just Want To Have Something To Do
2. I Wanted Everything
3. Don't Come Close
4. I Don't Want You
5. Needles And Pins
6. I'm Against It
7. I Wanna Be Sedated
8. Go Mental
9. Questioningly
10. She's The One
11. Bad Brain
12. It's A Long Way Back To Germany                

Released in 1978, "Road To Ruin" followed three iconic "1-2-3-4" Ramones albums of punk rock heaven. By now, they felt the need to show they weren't not just three-chord wonders. The "new wave" had begun, and acts like Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, The Jam and The Clash were diversifying and showing considerable songwriting skills. Maybe The Ramones felt they had to compete in similar fashion, or maybe they just fancied trying something different. Either way, this album saw the first real Ramones ballad in Questioningly and Don't Come Close was a single which had a new wave style melody to it - certainly not a two minute fist pumper/pogoer. The cover of The Searchers' Needles And Pins ploughed a similar furrow. Even the catchy I Wanna Be Sedated seemed a little more singalong and a little less three chord guitar thrash, despite its repetitive structure.

Only twelve tracks on here as opposed to the fourteen on the previous three. Those songs must be getting longer! The Ramones were going all Led Zeppelin.

There are still some copper-bottomed punkers in Go Mental and Bad Brain, which sees the band revisit their mental health obsession. I Don't Want You, I'm Against It and She's The One are a bit Ramones-by-numbers, to be honest. Nothing really memorable about them, however.

Despite that, I still have a nostalgic affection for this album. I remember buying it on the day of release back in 1978 and being a bit underwhelmed, though, in comparison to Rocket To Russia. The yellow vinyl was mightily impressive though, so much so that I still always remember it as The Ramones' "yellow album" and the cover art certainly adds to that effect. Still, The Ramones are The Ramones - there is always something to enjoy.

                                                                      ******

2018 40th ANNIVERSARY REMASTERED EDITION

This 40th Anniversary remaster is not as easily available as the previous three in the series, although a digital download is on amazon, as well as a vinyl/CD set.

As with the others, the question of whether anything by The Ramones needs remastering is a valid one. However, listening to this, the remaster of the original sounds pretty impressive. Listen to those cutting, slashing guitars right at the end of I Just Want To Have Something To Do  (the first sign of The Ramones playing anything more than the riff chords). The bass on I Wanted Everything comes over full, muscular and resonant. Don't Come Close just explodes right out your speakers with a big bassy boom. Needles And Pins also has some excellent bass too. It is on the “ballads” that the bassy remastering is most apparent, and Questioningly provides another example.



The alternative mixes are, rather like the ones on the previous three 40th Anniversary re-releases, even more bassy and warm-sounding. The slight tinniness that the original album always had is not present and the album sounds more like it maybe should have done. Sort of purer. I really enjoyed listening to these. Many people may not notice a difference, but I am sure most Ramones-oholics will. Don’t Come Close has none of those high-pitched additional guitar twangs. It is played in pure, typical, chugging Ramones style and is very appealing for it. Tracks like I'm Against It , I Don't Want You and the excellent I Wanna Be Sedated all sound great. The latter is beautifully punchy and bassy. Go Mental just sounds raw, edgy and somehow better than the original. In a way the whole “alternative” album does. The same was certainly true of the Leave Home and Rocket To Russia alternative mixes. Something pure and essential about them. I am not sure how the Rough Mixes and 2018 mixes differ, however. Both sound fresh and vibrant. The Rough Mixes contain a frantic, breakneck I Wanna Be Sedated which is the very essence of The Ramones. The same goes for Don’t Come Close.

The live tracks from 31 December 1979 are raw and lively as you would imagine. The sound quality is ok, not outstanding, but perfectly acceptable.

Below is a clip of The Ramones performing Don't Come Close On Top Of The Pops in 1978.


C/B-



https://www.ramones.com/

The Ramones - Rocket To Russia (1977)

Chewin' out a rhythm on my bubble gum....

 
Released November 1977

Recorded at Media Sound Studio, Manhattan

The studio work of The Ramones is probably the least in need of remastering of any band. That said, there is a full, bassy warmth to this latest remastering that has not been there before and serves as a counter to the full-on guitar of most of the tracks.

TRACK LISTING (original album)

1. Cretin Hop

2. Rockaway Beach
3. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
4. Locket Love
5. I Don't Care
6. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
7. We're A Happy Family
8. Teenage Lobotomy
9. Do You Wanna Dance
10. I Wanna Be Well
11. I Can't Give You Anything
12. Ramona
13. Surfin' Bird
14. Why Is It Always This Way?

Released in late 1977, this was the album where breakneck punk fully met surf pop and goofball lyrics complete the "chewin' out a rhythm on my bubblegum" pleasure. Surf pop. Power pop. Call it what you will, it is there in the wonderful Rockaway Beach, the cover of Surfin' Bird,  in Ramona, Locket Love and the cover of Do You Wanna Dance. The obsessions with health, particularly mental health abound in Cretin Hop, I Wanna Be Well and Teenage Lobotomy. Then there is the goofy humour of We're A Happy Family and the quirky Why Is It Always This Way?. Punky nihilism is there too in I Don't Care, while I Can't Give You Anything is a cynical "anti-love" song.

Then there is one of the first "punk ballads" in the lovely Here Today Gone Tomorrow and, of course, there is the "hit" - the iconic Sheena Is A Punk Rocker. All great 1-2-3-4 stuff. The other versions of the album you get here - the "tracking mixes" and the "rough mixes" are both appealing in their own way. I am not quite sure how they differ from each other. In relation to the original album, I find the Tracking Mixes just a bit "rougher", more bassy, more defined somehow. Again, not sure what the differences really are, but they are there. The alternative versions are worth listening to.

The extras - instrumental versions, demos versions, alternate lyric versions are of only initial interest to me and no more, I'm afraid.

All in all, though, if you a fan, you will still want to get it. If you just want the original album, download the individual tracks.

B+



https://www.ramones.com/