Saturday, April 23, 2016

40 Year Itch: Today New York ...Tomorrow the World

The Ramones : Blitzkrieg Bop

  On April 23, 1976, the same day the Rolling Stones released the recycled riffs of Black and Blue, four misfits from Queens brought forth the year's most revolutionary and most influential album. 14 songs in 29 minutes! All recorded for $6400. No guitar solos. No golden locked singers. Just a whole bunch of funny songs with "Wanna" in the title. Here, by many accounts, is the birth of punk rock.

   Looking back, we can gauge the significance of the album easily. Both the Clash and the Damned formed shortly after catching the Ramones' UK tour. The fast and furious three chord songs would show up only slightly altered in tunes by the Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols. 

  But at the time, the critics wondered whether the band would actually sell. 

   Paul Nelson of Rolling Stone magazine put it this way: "Where's your sense of humor and adventure, America? In rock and roll and matters of the heart, we should all hang on to a little amateurism. Let's hope these guys sell more records than Elton John has pennies. If not, shoot the piano player. And throw in Paul McCartney to boot."

  Creem's Gene Sculatti wrote: "Serving its radical function, the Ramones' debut drives a sharp wedge between the stale ends of a contemporary music scene bloated with graying superstars and overripe for takeover. Right now, the Ramones have their hands on the wheel."

   Nick Kent of NME wrote "As a punk artefact, it separates the men from the boys. If you love hard-ass retard rock, you'll bathe in every groove. If you pride yourself on being a sensitive human-being, this record will gag on you like a gatorade and vermouth fireball."

   Alas, The Ramones debut would only sell 6,000 copies in 1976, peaking at #111 on the US charts and neither "Blitzkrieg Bop" nor " I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" would chart at all. It would take 38 years for the album to go gold.

1 comment: