Instant Expert: The Ramones
You’ve seen them at parties, lurking in the corner, waiting to engage in battle disguised as conversation. They’re indie rock know-it-alls, and no matter what band or musician you mention, they’ve got an opinion — strong and almost certainly negative — ready to ram down your throat. With Instant Expert, we offer preparation for these very situations. Each Thursday, in advance of your weekend carousing, we pick an artist and provide a quickie career overview, highlighting both prevailing critical opinions and the inevitable contrarian counterarguments. Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the music, you’ll be able to bluff your way through and defend your indie cred. This week: the Ramones.
The Ramones were New York's quintessential punk band ... or so the story goes. Even though they were immediately lauded and accepted within the scene, at their core the Ramones were an American rock 'n' roll band raised on '60s junk culture. They loved comic books, baseball, garage rock and monster movies. They were misfits, outcasts and basement dwellers. And they made some of the best music to come out of the DIY '70s. They weren't pretentious. They rarely played a song for more than three minutes. They barely spoke to each other offstage. And they went through drummers like Spinal Tap. They were the Ramones.
Everything you need to know about the Ramones can be found on their 1976 self-titled debut album: the simple but powerful guitar chords, the sardonic look at American families, the glue-sniffing, the "1-2-3-4!" Plus, it includes their best song, 'Blitzkrieg Bop.'
Their fourth album is their most pop-sounding effort. And let's face it: the Ramones were just a pop band with guitars. Plus, it includes their best-known song, 'I Wanna Be Sedated.'
'End of the Century' producer Phil Spector was a genius. The Ramones were geniuses. So it doesn't take a genius to figure out that 'End of the Century' is their best album.
What's the big deal? They knew only three chords.