The Ramones: Not Just One Album

MSN has a new listicle, “Musicians That Never Surpassed Their First Great Album.” It’s mostly the obvious choices — The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks, NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, The Strokes’ Is This It, Nas’s Illmatic, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill (even though it was not really her first album) — but I was surprised to see it included The Ramones’ self-titled debut:

How many songs have you heard trying to sound exactly like ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’?”

“Blitzkrieg Bop” was indeed trendsetting, establishing the true sound of punk worldwide:

And while The Ramones, who never veered too far from that formula, may not have surpassed their debut, they did equal it on their next two albums, Leave Home, with such classics as “Suzy Is a Headbanger” and “Pinhead,” with its “Gabba Gabba Hey” chant . . .

. . . adapted from Tod Browning’s infamous film Freaks, . . .

. . . and Rocket to Russia, with “Rockaway Beach,” “Teenage Lobotomy” and “Sheena Is  a Punk Rocker” . . .

. . . before the law of diminishing returns inevitably began to take effect. Many believe the title of their fourth album, Road to Ruin, was prophetic, but I’ve always liked that album, so I place the drop off point of their steep decline just after it. (This is not to demean their concerts, which remained a whole lot of fun even as their albums became increasingly redundant.)

As for the claim, “The men who freed lyricists everywhere to not worry if the second verse was the same as the first . . .,” that line was copped from Herman’s Hermits‘ 1965 #1 hit, “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” . . .

. . . which was itself a cover of a British music hall standard from 1910.

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