Joey Ramone ‘Ya Know’ (BMG Records)
Out Today (22nd May)
A new compilation of Joey Ramone tracks was released today on an album titled “Ya Know”. Maren McGlashan has given it the once over for us & reports back on it below.
Joey Ramone, an undisputed forefather of the punk rock movement, tragically passed away in 2001 after battling lymphoma for nearly a decade. This week, material from the iconic singer will be released in a compilation titled ”Â¦ Ya Know?, which offers an assortment of new music, as well as second-takes on previously released Ramones songs. The record, which was produced by Ramones’ recording vets Ed Stasium and Jean Beauvoir, is Joey Ramone’s second solo album, and boasts collaborations with Richie Ramone, Steven Van Zandt, Holly Beth Vincent, Joan Jett, and Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh, among others.
”Â¦ Ya Know? is not a perfect album, but it is a fun album, as well as one that explores Joey Ramone’s songwriting capabilities both inside and out of his trademark genre. In addition to the vintage punk rock sensibilities of many tracks on the record, ”Â¦Ya Know? also shows us a less-obvious side of the rock icon. Tracks like “Party Line”Â reflect Joey Ramone’s admiration for mid-century pop songs, while “Make Me Tremble”Â plays with a kind of charming seaside folk-rock effervescence. Not to be overlooked is “Waiting For That Railroad,”Â a standout folk-tinged track that features an acoustic guitar and ”â yep, that’s right ”â a mandolin.
”Â¦Ya Know? also includes two previously recorded Ramones songs, both of which are dramatically reimagined. The featured rendition of “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”Â comes off particularly nostalgic and melancholy, and uses live drums, as well as a drum machine, slinky guitar, and other instruments, to create a chaotic spin on the wall-of-sound effect. The unplugged, vocally-layered rendition of “Life’s A Gas”Â is endearing, and closes the album on a light-hearted and retrospective note.
Tracks like these sitting side by side with grittier, heavier numbers, like the anthem-esque “Rock n’ Roll is the Answer,”Â (see above) the hometown homage, “New York City,”Â or the test-of-fidelity themed “Eyes of Green,”Â seem to have people conflicted. At times, the record appears to lack a sense of cohesiveness. This is, perhaps, either the album’s blessing or its curse ”â a debate which is entirely personal and must be judged by oneself. If you’re willing to imagine Joey Ramone outside of his typical environment on a few tracks, perhaps swapping a graffiti-adorned club in the East Village for a train station in the country, then you’ll most likely enjoy it as much as I do.
Nothing in punk rock is seamless. That’s what makes it punk rock, right? ”Â¦Ya Know?, created by the father of punk himself, is no different. Though initial reviews of this record have been mixed, the final consensus is undeniable. The simple fact that we’re given access to more of Joey Ramone’s music is a gift in and of itself.
All words Maren McGlashan. More articles by Maren can be found here.