Record review: Joey Ramone – …ya know? (2012, LP)

joey ram
How a near-mute, beanpole outcast with a crippling case of OCD became one of the most influential front men in the history of popular music is a fascinating story. The fact that this album – the second posthumous release of Joey Ramone songs since his death from lymphoma in 2001 – ever saw the light of day is equally remarkable. Despite being pieced together over a number of years from various demos and old cassette tapes before being finished off with help from Joan Jett and Steven Van Zandt, …ya know? sounds remarkably cohesive and brims with frantic punk anthems and hints of Joey’s obvious influences; Elvis, the Beach Boys, and the Stooges. The buzz-saw guitar on opener ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Is The Answer’ sounds as good as anything on any of the classic Ramones albums, before the album reveals itself to be a much more eclectic mix than anything Joey did previously. ‘Waiting For That Railroad’ is an acoustic ballad, ‘What Did I Do To Deserve You’ drips with pop harmonies, while old Ramones number ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)’ is reworked as a heart-wrenching, sentimental song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Paul McCartney album. There is a feeling that – freed from the stylistic constraints of being a Ramone – Joey was able to immerse himself in the sounds of the bands he loved growing up, without straying too far from the crunching punk sound he helped make famous. This album is as unflinching and committed as ever; making sure Joey Ramone remains the king of punk.

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