If you were there, you get it
if you weren't there, then
this is your chance to catch up and get it. What is it, you ask?
Why, Ramones fever, of course! The new Ramones It's
Alive release from Rhino Home Video documents over twenty
years of live shows from what is arguably the greatest American
ever. If you don't believe, then check out this
amazing 2 disc set featuring around four hours of music and awesome
From the earliest documented Ramones shows at the infamous CBGB
where all the original dudes are skinnier than I ever believed
skinny could be and younger than I can ever remember being myself
to stadium shows in the late 90's featuring a more mature but
just as rocking line-up, this collection is essential Ramones
watching. The first show on the DVD is amazingly tight for a band
of toothpicky fourteen year olds clad in leather and white shirts.
By the show at Max's Kansas City almost two years later the music
is heavier and more complex (about as complex as The Ramones ever
got, actually) but the boys still looked a bit young for the part.
Almost a month later in the early summer of '76 the band had reached
the image that would stick for the next twenty
years, accompanying the sound of rock music as some folks wish
it still was. The next CBGB installment in the summer of '77 really
has the band in fine form, playing classic songs like "Blitzkrieg
Bop" and "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker", but still a
bit rougher around the edges than they would eventually become.
The remainder of disc one focuses on performances from the later
half of 1977, illustrating just how fast the Ramones took their
Beach Boys-gone-loud sound and polished it up just a bit
more to the fine grit for which they've come to be known.
Disc two shows the band traveling around the world, writing new
songs, and maturing as performers. The Ramones grew to the size
of their crowds, turning from moppy-headed young punks to full-blown
moppy-headed older punks with smoother demeanors but the same
gritty penchant for rocking. The Old Grey Whistle Test performance
from 1978 is electric, filled with the kind of energy that is
still indelibly linked to the name Ramones. By the time the band
returned to play in 1985 there was a new rhythm section but there
was no doubt the Ramones still ruled the punk rock scene
The version of "Chasing The Night" is incredible, complete
with growly vocals and stuttering guitar, and while the band seems
more docile with the new line-up, there is still something magnetic
about the music. The final included show from 1996 in Buenos Aires
shows a band that has grown older, switched from black hair dye
to blonde, changed some rhythm players, but continues to rock
like no one's business. The power of the Ramones is obvious when
listening to the final track here, an amazingly raucous version
of "Blitzkrieg Bop".
As the credits roll, it's obvious that the Ramones were different
in punk rock - the fans are smiling, normal-looking kids who are
just up for having a good time, rather than the stereotypical
sneering pierced and leather-clad punk rocker we tend to romanticize.
The Ramones were fun, and these DVDs illustrate just how fun the
band was. The musical world has a huge debt to pay to the Ramones,
and I believe that this DVD collection makes it crystal clear
just how influential the band was throughout its career. But I
guess what this DVD reminds me most of all is that the thing I
really miss is DeeDee shouting out "one, two, three,
four!" at the beginning of every song in a tempo that has
nothing to do with the actual tempo of the song that starts
That Johnny somehow maintained that horrible Mosrite tone
throughout the life of the band, but made it sound good
And that Joey, in all his gruffness, was really quite smooth
and maintained his typical stoic rock'n'roll persona 'til the
This is classic Ramones footage of classic Ramones songs
well worth the price of admission. Long live rock!
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