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Razorcake #79
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Record Reviews

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RAMONES:
Rocket to Russia: CD
Rhino did a fine-ass job on this re-issue of the Ramones third LP – not only on the music itself, but recreating the inner sleeve of the original LP in the booklet here with all the cool John Holmstrom (one of the co-founders of the original Punk zine of NYC) artwork. Bonus tracks here include the U.K. 7” b-side version of “It’s a Long Way Back to Germany,” which was later recorded with new drummer Marky on the Road to Ruin LP, as well as an early version of “Needles & Pins.” Single versions of “I Don’t Care” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” are here, too, as well as the demo, “Slug,” which appeared earlier on the All The Stuff & More re-issues. Excellent job here. Need I tell you how much you want this? I thought not.
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
Road to Ruin: CD
This is the Ramones' fourth LP in Rhino’s series of re-introducing America’s band to a new generation, as well as making old fans smile even more. This shine, shine, SHINES. Yeah, fuck, I know – this is the LP that includes “I Wanna Be Sedated.” But it’s also the LP that houses “Go Mental,” “Bad Brain,” “I Don’t Want You,” “She’s the One,” “I Just Want to Have Something to Do,” and possibly one of the most perfect Ramones songs ever laid down on a studio reel, “I’m Against It.” This is also the LP that showed the world that the Ramones were capable of handling ballad-type-crooners, like the near-perfect “Questioningly” and their cover of “Needles & Pins.” Bonus cuts here include producer Ed Stasium-recorded versions of “I Want You Around” and “Rock ‘N Roll High School.” The live five-song medley from the film, “Rock ‘N Roll High School” is here, too, as well as an unreleased demo, “Come Back, She Cried A.K.A. I Walk Out” and the demo, “Yea, Yea” from the All The Stuff & More Volume 2 reissue. God DAMN, I love this record. Share the love, people, share the love.
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
End of the Century: CD
This is Rhino’s re-issue of the terribly underrated fifth Ramones LP, originally brought unto fans from one Phil Spector back in 1979. I defy anyone to listen to “This Ain’t Havana," “All The Way," “I Can’t Make It On Time," or “Let’s Go” and not feel the need to pogo. This is also the LP that brought such live-set staples like “Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?” as well as “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” and “Chinese Rock." The bonus cuts here are really happenin’ with demo versions of certain “Century” cuts, especially the bitchin’ version of “Danny Says." Also included is the unreleased “Please Don’t Leave” demo and the soundtrack version of “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School." Like crack, this record was always quite addictive, and now with this re-ish, I’m really hooked, and if you ain’t, that makes you a crack hooker. So there.
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
Pleasant Dreams: CD
The sixth Ramones LP, gloriously re-issued with an assload of demos to boot. Demo cuts include a 1981 version of “Touring” which was re-recorded for the 1992 LP, Mondo Bizarro and an alternate version of the Get Crazy soundtrack cut, “Chop Suey." There’s the demo version of “I Can’t Get You Outta My Mind," which was re-recorded for the 1989 Brain Drain LP later on. And then there’s the unreleased cuts: “Kicks to Try," “Sleeping Troubles," “Stares in This Town," and “I’m Not An answer." The disc tray even has the original LP cover artwork that was to be for the album. This is yet another classic Ramones slab that was easily overlooked. Just listen to “All’s Quiet on the Eastern Front," “You Didn’t Mean Anything to Me," or “She’s a Sensation," not to mention “We Want the Airwaves” and “The KKK Took My Baby Away." I’ll bet dollars to Homer Simpson’s donuts that the blood'll start pulsing rapidly through that jaded heart of yours. Play loud!
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
Self-titled: CD
I’m actually surprised that no one here at the ’Cake didn’t take a second or two to review any of the Ramones re-issues that Rhino put out. Since the last eighteen months or so, Rhino has re-packaged the first eight LPs of Ramones studio fury, and I’ve felt like Howard Stern at a girly-girl lesbian convention ever since. The first four CDs hit the shelves in 2001 and the next four discs in 2002. Being thee unconditional fan of the brothers Ramone, I’m gonna take some time here to tell all you sacrilegious simps who haven’t picked this up yet (or any of the others) just what you’re missing out on. Besides all fourteen songs of the original LP re-mastered and roaring out of the stereo, you get early demos of some of this LP’s cuts and a coupla unreleased tracks that were on the All The Stuff & More Volume One re-issue. Also included is an early demo of “You Should Never Have Opened That Door,” later on their second release, Leave Home, and the 7” version of “Blitzkrieg Bop,” which has a wonderful live essence to Joey’s vocal track. The booklet with the disc, as with all the booklets included with these Ramones re-issues, contain pics, history of the album’s creation, and complete lyrics. In this particular booklet, there are some pics that make it amazing to believe that the same Ramones’ debut that hit the world some twenty-seven years ago is still wowing new fans today. Fuckin’-A, it does. Rhino even took the paper tracking labels from the original vinyl records and screened them right onto all these re-issue CDs themselves. Too fucking cool. If this record isn’t already in the “R” section of your vinyl collection, Rhino is giving you a second lease on life to get one of the best reasons to listen to one of the best things to happen to rock'n'roll.
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
Subterranean Jungle: CD
It’s so fucking cool to see Rhino re-issue this, ‘cause when the Ramones originally released Jungle back in 1983, it ended up being their most lowest-selling LP to date, thus making it a bit collectible being that there were not a whole lot of copies to be re-pressed. Anyone who discounts this record is up to their tonsils in their own shit, ‘cause Jungle still holds its own to this day with Dee Dee’s “Time Bomb," “Highest Trails Above," “In the Park," “Outsider," and his collaboration with Johnny, “Psycho Therapy." It’s no one’s fault but the listeners that this LP isn’t considered one of their “favorites." I personally love each and every Ramones slab differently – but always unconditionally – because they consistently put out great albums. No, don’t argue – it's not an opinion. It’s a fact. Fuck you very much. The bonus cuts here on Jungle, by far, are some of the most rockin’ unreleased demos included with these Ramones re-issues, especially “Bumming Along," which could have easily been put on the original Jungle release. That song’s pure, unharnessed, locomotive-driven Ramones power, I’m telling ya. Other unreleased tracks are “New Girl in Town," “No One to Blame," “Roots of Hatred," and “Unhappy Girl." There’s also the original mix of “Indian Giver” and an acoustic version of the Jungle cut, “My-My Kind of Girl." If you don’t own this already, Rhino’s definitely throwing you a bone, so go grab it, or you can massage my bone, fucko.
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
Too Tough to Die: CD
With this eighth studio release, the Ramones came back to plant their flag in the asses of lame imitators, showing that they’ve always had a hard edge, and this LP has more than declared that to be true. With the Rhino re-issue of Too Tough, you don’t only get this reclamation of the Ramones roots, but a whole lotta bonus offerings like demo versions of a bunch of the LP’s cuts. Also included here are the Dee Dee vocal versions of “Planet Earth 1988," “Danger Zone," and “Too Tough to Die," which will want to make you start a pit on the freeway with your vehicle. And let me just add that the Dee Dee vocal versions add a new dimension to these songs, not that Joey wasn’t fucking key to begin with, ‘cause he always was. Some U.K. b-side singles “Smash You” and the Stones cover of “Street Fighting Man” are here, too, as well as the unreleased “Out of Here” and “I’m Not an Answer." Every time I throw Too Tough on the stereo it reminds me how the Ramones kicked off their live shows with “Durango 95” from this LP. Magic. Absolute fucking magic.
–Designated Dale (Rhino)


RAMONES:
Acid Eaters: CD
A bit of a diversion, this is a collection of covers of psychedelic ‘60s tunes originally done by the Amboy Dukes, the Who, the Byrds, Love, The Jefferson Airplane and others. I remember not thinking all that much of this upon its initial release, but it sounds a lot more interesting upon hearing it again, and some of them, like “Somebody to Love” and “My Back Pages” are actually pretty rockin’. Also included is an outtake of them doin’ “Surfin’ Safari.” –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


RAMONES:
Adios Amigos: CD
It was a bit tough listening to this, the last studio album the Ramones will ever release. I’ve been living in a little bubble of denial for years now, avoiding buying this or listening to any of it, as if my ignoring it would change the fact that one of my favorite bands of all time is now but a beer-soaked memory. But you gotta face everything sooner or later, I guess, and this is as good as any to say goodbye to one of the musical pillars upon which was built my youth and subsequent adulthood. By the time this album hit the stores in 1995, the band members had had about enough of each other. Joey and Johnny hadn’t talked to each other in years, and CJ and Marky had apparently developed a rift of their own (as evidenced in the bonus track, a cover of Motorhead’s “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.,” wherein CJ changes one line to “Marky takes it up the ass”). Still, they managed to crank out one last album of new tunes. Some really good work is put down here—a cover of Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” the bittersweet (and evermore poignant considering he lost his battle with cancer a few years after this was released) Joey-penned “Life’s a Gas,” “Scattergun,” and “Making Monsters of My Friends”—and CJ gets even more involved in the proceedings, penning a couple and singing roughly half the songs on the album. While it may not be the greatest album they ever recorded, it is one of the better ones of the latter period of their run, and definitely a nice way for them to head noisily off into the sunset. I loved ‘em and I will truly miss ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


RAMONES:
Brain Drain: CD
As the 1980s came to a close, it seems the brudders had pretty much run out of both steam and ideas, as evidenced by this album, which is eighty percent filler with some true Ramones gems imbedded here and there. The proceedings start off on a high note, with “I Believe in Miracles,” one of the best tracks they managed during Reagan’s tenure. From there, however, it’s a five-song trudge to the next oasis, “Pet Sematary,” written for the Stephen King movie of the same name. Three songs later, up pops one of the thrashers they developed a fondness for writing during the period, “Ignorance Is Bliss,” followed by a rather pedestrian rocker, “Come Back, Baby,” and then it’s over. Ironically, it’s a novelty bonus track tacked onto this reissue, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight),” that provides the most Ramonesy song on the last release to feature three of the four original members. It would’ve been a sad ending, indeed, if this has been their last word, but after this was recorded, Dee Dee was out (although he continued to write for the band right up to the end), CJ was in and the ‘90s were on the horizon. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


RAMONES:
Mondo Bizarro: CD
Dunno if it was the arrival on the scene of the young CJ or the promise of a new decade, but after the lackluster Brain Drain, the boys came roaring back with this album to suckerpunch those who began mumbling that maybe the Ramones had reached the end of the road. Like a mirror image of the preceding album, this release is a solid effort, short on filler and long on ball-on rock’n’roll, not to mention some class-A songwriting. Joey offers up the opening salvo, “Censorshit,” a bomb leveled at former Mrs. Vice-President Tipper Gore and her gaggle of Washington wives, the PMRC, who in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s were out to impose limits on free speech under the guise of little “parental advisory” stickers on music releases deemed “objectionable” (in one of history’s great ironies, the stickers actually helped the releases tagged by giving them “taboo” credibility and boosting their sales). From there it’s a veritable grab bag of late-period classics: “The Job that Ate My Brain,” “Poison Heart,” “It’s Gonna Be Alright” (a thank you to their fans), “Main Man,” “Tomorrow She Goes Away,” “Heidi Is a Headcase,” and “Touring,” a nod to both where the band had been, musically and literally, and how they got there. Added on here as a bonus track is their take on the “Spiderman” theme, icing on an already amazing cake. –Jimmy Alvarado (Captain Oi)


RAMPANT BAND:
Breakthrough/Breakdown: CD
Pretty standard alternative radio rock. It’s not that bad, but most of the songs are so long (there’s only one under three minutes, one over eight) that I had trouble paying attention after a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I demand everything be all short, but if you’re going to go this route, take the Superchunk route and have really strong, catchy riffs that you play the hell out of. –Joe Evans III (Self-released, myspace.com/431038819)


RAMROD:
Self-titled: CD
This type of punk doesn’t typically do it for me, but I’ve loved this band for a while. Bowie, Maryland’s Ramrod do a Fat Wreck skate rock type thing, which comes out sounding a bit like No Use For A Name, Lagwagon, NOFX, etc. That isn’t quite the description I’d like to use (they’re better than that), but it’s the closest I can get. Dual vocals, frequent tempo changes, and above average drum and string skills can be found all throughout the well written songs on this record. This follows up the Junk Rock EP that was released early last year. Check this out as soon as possible. –Dave Dillon (Cunt)


RAMROD:
Joy of Elaborate Yawning: CD
Full-tilt hardcore from these young upstarts from Bowie, MD. (Old or New Bowie, boys?) I have seen them live twice and I think their drummer creates new electrons with each beat—he plays that fast. Without even hearing them, I predict if you like the following song titles, you will dig them—“Tuna in a Can,” “HamburgerCollege,” and “At War with the Deli Man.” But they also have some pretty intense instrumentals too. Good stuff. –Sean Koepenick (Cunt)


RAMRODS, THE:
Gimme Some Action: CD
The best that I can figure, the Ramrods were evidently a Detroit band from the 1970s who sounded a hell of a lot like Iggy and the Stooges and even played covers of some of their songs as well as ones from the Beatles and the Who. For some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to release this album of their music (including the covers) over twenty-five years later. I have never heard of the Ramrods. Why anyone thought this would be a good idea is beyond me. The audacity to sound a lot like the Stooges on your original stuff (except not quite as punk) and then cover them seems pretty incredulous. Recommended only for music fans stuck in 1970s Detroit. –Kurt Morris (Young Soul Rebels)


RAMSHACKLE GLORY:
Live the Dream: CD
Honestly, I really don’t care for “folk punk” all that much. Most of it comes across as either too discordant (some acoustic jerkwad crooning nasally) or—the opposite end of the spectrum—cutesy (some acoustic jerkwad crooning nasally about, say, dumpster diving), there’s a few bands that avoid all the pitfalls and just rule. The Taxpayers are one, The Wild’s another. They—and, as I just found out, Ramshackle Glory—are doing stuff that’s couched in folk sensibilities, is also smartly political without sloganeering, and still rock out pretty goddamn hard. Combining instrumentation as varied as banjo, piano, saw and violin, as well as the usual armament, Live the Dream’s got a great thing going on here. When done poorly, folk punk is some wincingly bad stuff. When it’s done well, the songs are as moving as any more “standard” punk anthem. This is a good record. –Keith Rosson (DIY Bandits)


RAN:
John Says: 7”
There was a time early on with Down By Law where I’d given a lot of faith to them. It’s too bad that they became a band who went on to shit the bed over and over again—musically and as people—so much so, I find it hard to listen to songs that I once swore an allegiance to. Ran resurrect some of those early feelings I had for DBL: earnest singing, urgent playing, a watershed of familiar sounds somehow re-energized with interesting cuts and twists of their own. Think of early Dag Nasty and Double Image-era Marginal Man. Right about there. Not quite as good, but not bad at all. –Todd Taylor (Snuffy Smile)


RANCID HELL SPAWN:
Abolition of the Organism: 7”
Rancid Hell Spawn is back! This is the first single from the newly reformed U.K. band. The older punk crowd who were around in the early ‘90s will certainly be familiar with their noisy and distorted blasts of weirdo punk noise, and this new four-song EP pretty much picks up right where they left off. Back in the ‘90s, they were a really prolific band that didn’t really fit in with any specific scene, in my opinion. In 2012, I could see them fitting in perfectly alongside some of the oddball noise rockers on the Load Records label, or maybe even wouldn’t find them so removed from the A Frames or the other bands with ties to SS Records. Recommended. –Mark Twistworthy (Wrench, wrench.org)


RANCID HELL SPAWN:
“Abolition of the Orgasm”: 7”
I knew this was going to suck from the moment I saw the horrible, slapped-together design featuring photos of trans women and a contortionist lady that a very out of touch Mr. Spawn found by googling “weird.” I was right. This is shitty, guy-in-his-basement, distorted noise-punk by the kind of guy who names his “band” Rancid Hell Spawn. By that, I mean some guy who gets positive reinforcement from every bad review, thinking he’s doing something edgy and subversive. Nope... sucks! –Craven (Wrench, mail@wrench.org)


RANCID VAT:
The Cheesesteak Years: CD
Pretty typical redneck rock’n’roll here. A genre of music I’m akin to. However, this doesn’t do much for me. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just not that good. There is nothing to reel me in and make me start tapping my feet or bobbing my head. Sounds like a second rate Antiseen. –Toby Tober (Steel Cage)


RANCID VAT:
We Hate You All the Way from Texas: CD
These white trash motherfuckers hate me all the way from Texas. But I hate Texas, so everything kind of evens out. The music has a thrashy, power-chorded barbecue flavor. In fact, yes, I am going to compare them to barbecue sauce: sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it. They say they’ve been around since ‘81, and you would think they would have perfected a Ramones cover over that time, but instead they butcher it with just enough reverb on the vocals to fuck it up, although they make up for it with track six, “I’ll Never Make It Out of This World Alive.” All in all, this album isn’t all that bad. Gabe Rock –Guest Contributor (Steel Cage)


RANCID VAT:
Vs. the Rest of the World: CD
Double disc set celebrating the band’s twenty-five year career. A feat indeed for any punk band, and especially one like Rancid Vat which revels in degradation, intoxication, and flatulation. Guest appearances by the Wipers’ Greg Sage and Poison Idea’s Pig Champion (both battle it out with their respective guitars on the scorchin’ cover of the Elvis Presley tune “Trouble”). Other covers include Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and the Sonics, which shows you just how far and wide this band’s influences are. Hell, they even thank wrestling kingpin Ric Flair and long schlong porn star John Holmes! –greg (Steel Cage)


RANCID VAT:
Crybaby b/w Strychnine: 7”
Pretty good punk rock that’s endearingly sloppy in a Rip Offs kinda way, but heavier and more rock. What else would you expect from Phil Irwin (AKA Thee Whiskey Rebel) and his wife? “Crybaby” is quite catchy for a band often lumped in with the Confederacy of Scum bands, but bands really shouldn’t insist on performing Sonics covers unless their lead singer wears vinyl suits. –Not Josh –Guest Contributor (Casual)


RANCID VAT:
The Cheesestake Years: CD
Pretty typical redneck rock'n'roll here. A genre of music I'm akin to. However, this doesn't do much for me. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that good. There is nothing to reel me in and make me start tapping my feet or bobbing my head. Sounds like a second rate Antiseen.
–Toby Tober (Steel Cage)


RANCID VAT/HAMMERLOCK:
Split: 7”
Rancid Vat: A loud, rude, swaggering punk rock anthem for every schmo who’s ever had to work a shitty job. Hammerlock: An equally rockin’ homage to Thee Whiskey Rebel, who happens to be the bass player for the former. One hot piece of wax. –Jimmy Alvarado (Steel Cage)


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