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29-05-04 11:35 RAMONES POISON HEART By MIKE





Though there have certainly been brainier, artier, meatier, more philosophical, poetic and political punk rock bands than the Ramones, no one can truly compare with Queens' finest faux-bros. In 1975 they released their first album, probably one of the most perplexing debuts in rock history. The 14 blasts of elemental rawk 'n' roll, none of which lasted much more than two-and-a-half minutes, were nothing short of shocking in a music era dominated by excess. As miraculous as the absolute minimalism of their rock vision was, the fact that they perpetuated it for over two decades without straying significantly from that vision is even more remarkable. And yet in that time, they did manage to stretch the old one-two-three-four in some surprising, albeit subtle, directions. Produced by "wall of sound" architect Phil Spector, End Of The Century featured "Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?" and "Rock 'N' Roll High School" as well as an oddly touching rendition of "Baby I Love You." With Animal Boy, produced by former Plasmatic Jean Beauvoir , the Ramones veered into more metallic terrain. Acid Eaters was a tribute to their rock 'n' roll mentors, and Brain Drain featured a punk foray into holiday cheer with "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)." Though they laid some of the most important musical groundwork for the burgeoning punk movement, they never really delved into the political conventions that have become associated with the genre. They occasionally shared some of their broad political concerns (censorship, homelessness and the amusing jibe at then-president Ronald Reagan, "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)"), they avoided championing any causes--whether it was because they were beneath politics or beyond it was immaterial. After more than two decades of diligently following the "Hey-ho-let's-go" credo, the Ramones called it quits after playing Lollapalooza '96. This Biography was written by Sandy Masuo
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