Got A Concrete Skull

Here’s my joint favourite band ever, creators of my favourite LP ever, makers of my favourite 5 seconds of music ever, doing what they do best at the very height of their powers*:

Here’s my joint favourite band ever, creators of my favourite LP ever, makers of my favourite 5 seconds of music ever, doing their best at a real ebb in their powers:

Ramones Too Tough 02

It’s not fair to compare, like contrasting a young, fit, lippy ’67 model Mohammad Ali with the confused, shambling monolith that fought Berbick in ’81.  Only eight years on from their debut LP life wasn’t easy for Ramones when they cut Too Tough To Die in 1984.  They’d blown their chances of true stardom, in Johnny’s eyes, they’d flitted and flirted around Phil Spector, veered over to pretty undistinguished pop, sacked Marky Ramone for alcoholism and this was their chance to lurch back towards heaviness.  The Ramones, as a band and individuals always had a very peculiar, very fragile mental ecology – it made them great and unique, then levelled them**.

Ramones Too Tough 04

The best thing about Too Tough To Die is the front cover, I used to have a great T-shirt with that image on it, that’s not me being snidey either, it really is a great cover.  The second best thing is the black leather back cover – that is me being snidey.  They try, ‘Mama’s Boy’, ‘Wart Hog’ and the instrumental, ‘Durango ’95’ all have a bit of bite, but it’ all ersatz Ramones to me.  There’s far too much filler and a couple of real shockers thrown into the mix too – I shan’t name and shame them, but if you can get all the way through the second side without getting up and wandering off then you’re more tolerant than I am.  The production by Tommy Erdelyi and Ed Stasium (not sure I’ve ever liked anything he’s ever produced) ain’t great either.

Ramones Too Tough 03

You can’t blame a band for not wanting to become museum pieces and they really weren’t operating on an even keel at this point in time – even so, don’t remember them this way, they deserve far better from you.  They would even get to cut a few very good new songs again, but they’d have to wait until the next decade for that, closer to the end of the century.

Couldn’t keep a secret
Got a concrete skull
Couldn’t shut up you’re an imbecile
You’re an ugly dog there’s
Nothing to gain
You couldn’t shut up got a
Bad, bad brain

1-2-3-477 Down.

Ramones Too Tough 02

*I know someone who was there, lucky sod!

**if you haven’t yet, watch The End Of The Century – my favourite music documentary^.  Even if you only have a passing interest, it’s well worth a watch.

^or rockumentary, if you will.

10 thoughts on “Got A Concrete Skull

  1. I really need to watch the doc. A band I’ve always loved and admired, but never really got past anything but the first couple records. I did enjoy Brain Drain, as it was one of those high school albums we all enjoyed our sophomore year in high school.

  2. Ah the Ramones. The smartest, tightest, rocking-est bunch of meathead punks ever. I just love ’em.

    You ever hear Rollins talk about solving world problems and wars by playing Ramones records over no-man’s-land? I believe him when he says it would totally work.

  3. I’ve never really listened the Ramones past one of these standard compilation things. A band that I reckon I should and would like, but other stuff has gotten in the way of ever truly spending time investigating further.

    End of the Centuray sounds like a good place to start, though!

  4. An interesting (if somewhat sad) theme: albums from the ‘past their prime’ section.
    There is still a lot of interest in the Ramones; the article I did a while back on Rocket to Russia still draws regular views.

    Meanwhile, the ’77 film is brilliant. Will look out for the doco.

    1. This is why, obsessive though i am there are very few artists i own everything by.

      This is just so pedestrian.

      Add the doc to your Crimbo list immediately, its a stunning and quite touching, piece of history.

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