Joey Ramone

Don't Worry About Me (Sanctuary / BMG)

Phases and Stages

Joey Ramone

Don't Worry About Me (Sanctuary/BMG) While Don't Worry About Me couldn't possibly measure up to the Ramones' first three albums, Joey Ramone's solo debut is at least more compelling than most of the band's latter-day output, and that would still be true even without the sad poignancy of the singer's death from lymphoma last year. Produced in piecemeal fashion by Daniel Rey whenever Ramone was well enough, the disc blasts off with a joyous punk rendition of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" that interpolates the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant" as an unlikely but effective foundation. Ramone's faithful, un-nihilistic reading thoroughly severs the obvious link to Sid Vicious' interpretation of Sinatra's "My Way." The cartoonish "Mr. Punchy" pays tribute to "Boris the Spider"-era Who, while still managing a glue-sniffing reference, and "Maria Bartiromo" is a Ramones-style love letter to the CNBC reporter. The only song in which Ramone addresses his illness is "I Got Knocked Down (But I'll Get Up)," and it's tough not to be moved when the voice behind so much geek liberation winds up singing about how much it sucks to be stuck in a hospital bed. Though Ramones neophytes would be best served by starting at the beginning, Don't Worry About Me is a must for card-carrying superfans.

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