Chicks And Kicks

Rock n roll high school 03

Well I don’t care about history
Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
‘Cause that’s not where I wanna be
Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
I just wanna have some kicks
I just wanna get some chicks
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school

Well the girls out there knock me out, you know
Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
Cruisin’ around in my GTO
Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
I hate the teachers and the principal
Don’t wanna be taught to be no fool
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school

Fun fun rock’n’roll high school
Fun fun rock’n’roll high school
Fun fun rock’n’roll high school
Fun fun, oh baby

No-one says it like the Ramones did, especially when it came to sound-tracking teen dreams, this was a band plugged right into the giddy beating heart of rock and roll itself.  Since the weather has suddenly got nice here I found myself reaching for Rock ‘n’ Roll High School the other day for something appropriately sunny and undemanding.  It worked.

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Not a Ramones LP per se, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School featured two new tracks by them, a collaboration and a live medley of tracks, alongside songs by others.  I’ve never seen the film but I understand they were in it too, judging by the cover* I’d say we were in straight-up National Lampoon territory here, again nothing too complicated; although I’m impressed Roger Corman produced it, gotta love the Corman^.

It all kicks off with the title track, a long wordy one by The Ramones’ standards.  I think of it as a cousin of ‘California Sun’ and ‘Sheena ..’, upbeat and utterly utterly trivial, what more do you need than kicks and chicks? especially set to that wonderful loping, driving rhythm they have, Marky’s drumming is fantastic on this one**.  Its second-rate Ramones, but that’s still head and (Joey’s) shoulders above almost anyone else on the planet.  Easily.  It just spreads a little sunshine all around.  Originally produced by Ed Stasium it was remixed by Phil Spector and included on their End Of The Century album, which also came out in 1979.

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Next up is ‘I Want You Around’, which is a close cousin of ‘Don’t Come Close’ and ‘I Want You Around’, only not half as good.  I normally love soppy Ramones too, but this is a bit of mulch I haven’t got much time for.  Next track ‘C’mon Let’s Go’ billed as Paley Brothers/Ramones is really great though, just pure sweeter-sounding Ramones, taking them a step back towards Eddie Cochran.  The live medley from Roxy is fine, as you’d expect a fast spin through some classics in record time, including a particularly good version of ‘California Sun’.  And then the brothers are gone!

Well, not quite.  Evil lurks just at the beginning of Side 2, a version of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ with P.J Soles on vocals.  Who? P.J Soles^^ of course, lead female role in the film – of Halloween, Carrie and The Devil’s Rejects fame.  Her vocals here carry far more horror than any of the above.  I have very fond memories of my brother and I just rolling around my bedroom in tears of laughter at this track.  Let’s just say, she’s not what you’d call a natural singer – I can only imagine what the off-key shrieks and shrills must have sounded like before Ed Stasium cleaned them up.  I also want to know if that is the Ramones backing her, the sleeve is mute on that point.  I can’t share as, sadly, Spotify haven’t managed to find room for it; don’t worry I listened to it so you don’t have to.  I’m good to you like that.

PJ Soles, together with lesser musical talents
PJ Soles, together with lesser musical talents

There’s an interesting mix of other stuff on here too, with an obvious school theme to some of it and no discernible logic to others.  You don’t need me to tell you how much I love Alice Cooper ‘School’s Out’ do you? I was 13 when I first heard it and it was the most rebellious noise I’d ever heard up to that point, to be honest after a further 29 years trawling angry, snotty aggressive music I could make a case that it probably still is – I’ll say no more for now and save it until I review School’s Out one day*^.  Brownsville Station ‘Smoking in the Boy’s Room’ is what it is, no cleverer or more stirring than the Mötley Crüe version.  Eddie & The Hot Rods ‘Teenage Depression’ has never really done it for me either.

Then along comes Chuck Berry with ‘School days’ and, umm, schools everyone.  I’m a rabid Chuck Berry fan and I’ve loved this song in particular since AC/DC included it on T.N.T.  Sadly I think far too many people out there know Chuck Berry via a million inferior cover versions rather than his own work, which basically carry the tropes of every rebellious rocker ever since.

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Of the non-school tracks we have Todd Rundgren’s rather soppy ‘A Dream Goes On Forever’, I’m still waiting to hear something that will convince me that he was a better artist than producer (and I do love him as a producer); I am aware that these views may see me convicted of Canadian treason in my absence and condemned to execution by being smothered under a million copies of Runt, but I have to speak the truth.  We also have the interesting ‘Energy Fools The Musician’ by  Eno and the sheer, out-and-out genius of ‘Come Back Jonee’ by Devo, again another one I’ll save boring you all about until I look at Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! again another fave, it’s a great song but I think sounds even better sequenced properly on the source album, rather than following, the unique talents of, P.J Soles.

The revelation for me though was Nick Lowe ‘So It Goes’, not one that’s ever made too much of an impression on me before.  I know him more as a producer than an artist, but this is great I can hear Graham Parker and Elvis Costello on this track, a fairly snide sideswipe at, well, some stuff I suppose.  Yeah, that stuff definitely had it coming.  His delivery sounds a lot to me like Phil Lynott too, albeit set to a pub rock beat, cool as hell – and it was the first ever release for Stiff Records!  I’m really intrigued to hear more and I fancy buying Jesus of Cool, any guidance, anyone?

So there you go, some Summery fluff, nonsense and genius.  What more could you want from a soundtrack?

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388 Down.

*by William Stout, whose book of blues portraits is a delight.

^do you dare doubt the genius behind Death Race 2000, Dinoshark, Piranaconda and Sharktopus?! if so, I’ll see you outside you heathen!

**apparently Spector worked him like a dog during the recording process, endless repetitions of the same note until it was perfect.

^^original name Pamela Jayne Hardon.  No, I didn’t make that up.  I wouldn’t.

*^at this rate probably 17 July 2017.





15 thoughts on “Chicks And Kicks

  1. With you on the album review. Now, down to business.
    (1) I got your back with Rundgren. I have several and they just don’t do it for me. HOWEVER, every home should have the two Nazz albums and “Skylarking” which he produced for XTC.
    (2) Jesus of Cool is, er, very cool. I have the 2008 re-issue on YepRoc (nice people to deal with) on double coloured vinyl. Very pretty.
    (3) I saw Death Race 2000 at the drive-in when I was working in the shop with Sam. We took the two girls from the clothes shop next door. Them in the back seat and the boys in the front. True story. Unfortunately.
    (4) “Energy fools the magician” is from Eno’s highly excellent 1977 album ‘Before and after Science’, which comes highly recommended.

  2. Fortunately for P.J. Soles her vocals aren’t what horny, teenage boys were interested in. She’s been a favorite of mine since I first saw Halloween as a wee lad. As for Rock and Roll High School, it’s a dreadful flick. Clint Howard’s cameo as the go-to guy for concert tickets was entertaining(especially his office in the bathroom stall), but overall a piece of shite. This was an excuse to put together a decent enough soundtrack.

    As far as the Ramones go, their performance was much more believable in the the Simpson’s episode, “Rosebud”.

      1. The best part isn’t on that clip. After they finish C.J. Ramone says “Go to hell, you old Bastard”, and Burns replies “Have the Rolling Stones killed.”

        Pure genius.

  3. Cool review, spot on! There’s nothing better than kicks and chicks. As for Todd Rundgren, have you heard the albums “Something/Anything” or “Hermit of Mink Hollow?”

    1. Well, intensive internet research indicates that it is. You do know that you can trust everything you read on the internet, don’t you?

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