Ramones’ ‘Subterranean Jungle’ – A Look Back on the Band’s Last Pop Move
The Ramones’ 1980 album ‘End of the Century’ didn’t end up quite like they had hoped. After four records of earth-shattering, but relatively same-direction, music, they enlisted legendary producer Phil Spector to help turn ‘End of the Century’ into a modern-day pop masterpiece.
But Spector turned out to be a bats—t crazy dictator, allegedly pulling a gun on band members during the sessions. And the record ended up an interesting, but failed, experiment.
So the Ramones headed in a pop direction again on 1981’s ‘Pleasant Dreams.’ When they weren’t satisfied with that one either, they tried a third and final time with 1983’s ‘Subterranean Jungle.’ And they loaded the odds in their favor this time with a handful of cover songs – including the Music Explosion’s ‘60s garage-rock classic ‘Little Bit O’ Soul’ and the Chambers Brothers’ psychedelic-era hit ‘Time Has Come Today’ – primed for Ramones-style reworking.
The band also dipped into its own past for basement-dwelling songs like ‘Psycho Therapy.’ Drummer Marky Ramone was fired after the album was recorded, and bassist Dee Dee Ramone, who penned many of the group’s ‘70s classics, sang his first song. Badly. If that all sounds like a formula for an aimless album with too many opportunities to swerve off course, that about sums up ‘Subterranean Jungle.’ It’s not an awful Ramones record, but it’s not a great one either.
The album reached No. 83 on the chart, pretty much what you’d expect. It would be the last Ramones record to crack the Top 100. The next year, the band abandoned the pop moves and toughened their sound for one of their most abrasive records, ‘Too Tough to Die.’ Turned out for all that talk about the Ramones being a pop group at heart, they were really a hard-rock band with a punk edge. But they tried.
Watch the Ramones' Video for 'Time Has Come Today'