Hey Ho, Let’s Go!

Thumbs up for Joey Ramone's new solo disc

Hey Ho, Let’s Go!

My living in New York in the Eighties and Nineties meant the Ramones were a local band. I wasn’t hip enough to have seen them at CBGBs, but I did catch them a few times after punk broke. I recall them playing in front of what I'm guessing was 10,000 people – though I could be wildly mistaken – on a pier on the Hudson River in the Eighties, with the Divinyls opening.

Looking back, I'm still struck by the similarities between Ramones fans and Dead Heads: every kind of disenfranchised freak. They were looking for something to hang onto besides miniscule amounts of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, finding camaraderie in love for a band.

Take note, then, Ramones nation that there’s a new album by Joey Ramone, who died in New York in 2001 after a long battle with lymphoma. Joey, self-consciously tall and gangly, was the king of the freaks. ...Ya Know? is 15 demos and unreleased tracks recorded in a variety of settings over the last 15 years of the singer's life.

Previous solo disc Don’t Worry About Me was released in 2002, and here Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh and producer Ed Stasium, who worked on classic Ramones’ albums Leave Home and Rocket to Russia, gather the frontman's contemporaries to fill in the blanks. Steve Van Zandt, Joan Jett, Lenny Kaye, Cheap Trick's Bun E. Carlos, Holly Beth Vincent of Holly & the Italians, and a host of Dictators, Smithereens, and Plasmatics make the guest list.

It’s not the best disc you’ll spin this year, but it’s interesting to hear Joey’s other sides. Are those really vibes on “Make Me Tremble”? “Waiting for that Railroad” could almost be a country song.

There’s lots of tough New York City rock, of course, guitars blaring underneath typically simple Ramones lyrics on “Rock & Roll is the Answer” and “New York City.” That said, we probably didn’t need another version of “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” or “Life’s a Gas,” originally on the last Ramones album, 1995's Adios Amigos!.

And yet, if you need one last Ramones fix, this is it. I say last as if there won’t be more posthumous releases since the estates of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan have taught us to never say never. Nevertheless, ...Ya Know? is primitive and hard enough to satisfy.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Joey Ramone
Rock & Roll Books
I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir
Have axe, will grind

Margaret Moser, Dec. 4, 2009

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Joey Ramone, Ramones, Divinyls, Ed Stasium, CBGBs, Jim Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Van Zandt, Joan Jett, Lenny Kaye, Cheap Trick, Bun E. Carlos, Holly & the Italians, Dictators, Smithereen, Plasmatics

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle