The Ramones are one of my all-time favorite bands. Joey is one of my all-time favorite lead singers. The majority of my most cherished Ramones songs are the “Joey” ones like “Oh Oh I Love Her So”, “I Remember You”, “Slug”, “Danny Says”, “Don’t Go”, “7-11”, etc. So, when I heard about his brother Mickey Leigh putting together his final recordings for “…Ya Know?”, I was naturally pretty psyched. This is his 2nd posthumous album, following the fantastic “Don’t Worry About Me” which was released in 2002, a year after he died of lymphoma. From what I’ve heard, much of the accompanying music was created after Joey was already gone. Mickey was able to amass a pretty formidable crew of musicians to finish off these tracks including himself, Andy Shernoff & Handsome Dick Manitoba (The Dictators), Holly Beth Vincent (Holly & The Italians), Steven Van Zandt (E-Street Band), Ed Stasium, Richie Ramone and Joan Jett to name a few. I liked that he kept the group within the family circle. This sense of brotherhood is nowhere more apparent than on the song “New York City”, an open love letter sing-a-long with the whole gang. The album could have been a disaster if anybody like the Black Eyed Peas or Good Charlotte were allowed in to the fold.
The album starts off with “Rock N Roll Is The Answer” which is a Friday-night-feel-good-finger-
snapper coasting on an AC/DC-like strut. The guitar solo feels a little strange to me
in regards to anything Ramones related, but it works in this instance. The next track “Going Nowhere Fast” could possibly
be my favorite on the album. It has the
most straight up Ramones feel to it. It
could have fit quite comfortably on the “Road To Ruin” album from ‘78. The drawn out “Giiiiiiirl” and “Baaaaaaby”
before the chorus is so pure aching-heart Joey goodness. Another favorite is the steam driven “Waiting
For That Railroad”, a laid back catchy tune, heavy on the ‘whoa-oh’s (try not
to sing along). Two short and sweet
ditties “Make Me Tremble” and the simplistic “Cabin Fever” rely on just a
couple of verses and focus entirely on the vocal melody. It didn’t take long to
get in my sub-consciousness walking around like a drooling idiot babbling “LaLaLaLaLaLa…” and “BabyBabyBabyBabyBabyBaby…” over and over. Joey’s love of that Phil Spector sound of the
early 60’s is apparent on tracks like “I Couldn’t Sleep” and “Party Line”. The former, a hand jive vibe recalling Joey’s
track “No Go” off the Ramones “Too Tough To Die” & the latter, a sugary
sweet duet with Holly Vincent (I wish they would have included their fantastic cover
of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe”).
“What Did I Do To Deserve You” has a chorus that sounds like an
alternative take from the one found on “Beat On The Brat”. The remainder, “Seven Days Of Gloom”, “Eyes
Of Green” and the Joan Jett collaboration “21st Century Girl” sound
lush and infectious.
The sequencing is perfect with the acoustic version of “Life’s A Gas” to finish off these final recordings with a soft, somber smile. I swear nobody sings a “baby” or “girl”, or for that matter… “ooh”, “aaah”, “whoa”, “aw” or “la-la” like Joey Ramone. I’m not sure I’d compare this to his other solo album “Don’t Worry About Me” as much as it’s a companion to it. It’s like the second disc in the deluxe edition of the Joey Ramone solo recordings, and a perfect bookend to an amazing, weird, towering, hopeless-romantic, punk rock crooner’s career.
For more information or to purchase – go to www.joeyramone.com