Ramones, released April 26, 1976, remains one of rock & roll's most important albums. It certainly established punk's permanent blueprint: chain-saw guitar, breakneck tempos, reductionist songwriting reconfiguring classic pop DNA, and 2:30 time ceilings. Mixed to mimic the odd stereo spread of early Beatles records, the Queens quartet's debut also preserves a primer in punk guitar or bass. Turn the balance knob to one channel and learn Johnny Ramone's power chords. Crank it the other way and thump along with Dee Dee Ramone's basslines. Once you've mastered either, turn the knob the opposite direction and have a readymade practice rhythm section. Liner notes indicate Craig Leon prepared a mono mix in '76 he much preferred. Sire demurred. The vinyl pressing of Leon's new mono remix/remaster from Abbey Road indicates the producer's instincts were correct: It's a big, loud, punchy wall of sound, bursting with detail and the best guitar tone Johnny ever had. Every classic, from "Blitzkrieg Bop" to "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World," bleeds fresh energy. The three CDs of stereo and mono mixes, demos, single versions, and two blistering live sets from 1976 L.A. are killer, but the new vinyl makes purchasing this box mandatory.
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