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PUNK Magazine Listening Party 4 (5/4/01)
by Jolly, Holmstrom, Jessica & Sean

If you want to send your band's CD so that PUNK Magazine record reviewers and hangers-on can scribble comments about it while drinking beer and eating snack foods, send it to:
PUNK Magazine Listening Party
PMB 675
200 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003

The Meg Ryan Beer Blast and Listening Party

We hadn't had a new Listening Party for a while; things got kind of crazy after Joey passed away. Money's been kind of tight, and people have been a bit down in the dumps. But then the production company for Kate + Leopold, Meg Ryan's new movie (also starring Hugh Jackman!), chose the roof right next to the PUNK Magazine corporate offices for a location shoot involving a romantic dinner scene! And the money they paid for setting up their lights in the PUNK corporate offices (so that High and Meg could look that much more romantic!) paid for enough beer to hold another Listening Party.

I'm not kidding, either. This really happened!

Jolly and Jessica, our new intern from the School of Visual Arts (Holmstrom also went there) both stopped by for the party.

We looked through the promotional CDs... So many are coming in lately we can't review all of them! We briefly discussed the idea of doing a Ramones memorial Listening Party in honor of Joey but decided to just pick out a few CDs at random instead.

The Come Ons | New Dance Show | Misunderstood | Chemical Generation | 
Meat Depressed | Ramones

Come Ons The Come Ons
Tougher Than Elton John

Pretty boring. Nary a Ramones lick uncopped. They sound like bands who sound like bands who sound like... The Ramones. So why not cut out the middle man and listen to the original? Good question, my man, good question. Because it's a Listening Party, that's why damn it. Translation: Free beer so ya better drink, listen + write like yer s'posed to. Hmmm... sip, sip. Listen listen. Uh... Like I say it's boring. Nada originalamente. For this type of thing stick to The Dwarves, they're semi-original at least.

Fun-loving old-fashioned punk rock. Very energetic and head boppin'. They've got a real good sound for only being around for two years. They have real good feedback off each other and sound like they're having a lot of fun. (Although I can imagine myself being the oldest person at their show!)

Good, old-fashioned Ramones-style punk rock. "She's ugly but she likes the Ramones" from "Sheena Ramone" is the lyric I like best... That says it all! Some of the other song titles I like are: "Briana is a Frat Girl," "Jimmy Goes to a Youth Group" and "You Give Me Loose Stools." Meanwhile, "Do The Shake" might be the best song on the CD.

Well, they sure sound like the Ramones! Except the singer. The singer sounds like your standard "angry young man full of rage with a sneer in his voice." It kind of reminds me how unique Joey was... You know, it's easy to copycat the guitar & drums, but how can anyone duplicate him?

The Come Ons do nothing wrong, except maybe take a chance at doing something wrong. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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New Dance Show New Dance Show
I Wish My Friends Would Bury You
Email: nudetom89@hotmail.com

Any way you look at it this record bites the wood. You were excited with life, you felt great then you listened to this CD and now... They sound like: Spin Doctors plus bad singing.

Very clear-sounding and direct. The lead singer sounds very John Cusak in "Say Anything." I can picture him outside his ex-girlfriend's window with a boombox. You almost just want to give him a hug and tell him it's okay. (Shut up now!)

Only five songs on the CD, though. I wish it was a little more bang for the buck, but then again maybe five songs is all the whining I can handle.

I was all ready to HATE this when I saw the CD cover. It's real bad. Cheesy, bad drawings with ugly lettering. Then we played the CD. Good guitar, good drums, but real bad, cheesy singing. REAL bad. So bad it's hard to be cruel and tell these guys how bad they really stink.

I hate to be critical, especially of young bands. Then again, sometimes I think if bands would be more critical of themselves and spent more time thinking about their music before recording it, then their records would come out better and I wouldn't have to make critical comments about their music. Then again, if bands spent all their time polishing their stuff in the studio before releasing it, it wouldn't be "punk" anymore, would it? Then again, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols WERE critical of their own music and that's why they recorded good punk rock. So maybe lazy SOBs like New Dance Party lack the critical facilities or have no talent or something.

Without going into any more detail, this CD's not very good. In fact, this singer might be the worst singer I ever heard in my whole life. But then again, he is SO BAD that it's the most interesting thing about this CD. So maybe he's not so bad after all, and maybe these guys should capitalize on their strengths!

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Misunderstood Misunderstood
All Bets Are Off

They sound like Green Day meets Rush. From the lyrics they sound like a nice bunch of compassionate-enough blokes, which is good. "It's okay," "I'll try to understand," "I'll be your friend." Compassion is definitely a virtue.

Instrumentally, this band has talent, but their sound is so California West Coast it ruins it. Very Green Dayish, which just isn't my cup of tea. Again I can picture myself being the oldest person at their show. I'm getting images of 14-year-old girls in "Boys Lie" baby tees bouncing around like fleas.

Very impressive sound for a three-piece band. They have a very good pledge that says that keeping their values in check is important and there's an oath to always have an energetic live show.

From the liner notes: "... Powerful, emotionally-charged, pop-punk songs fueled by four enthusiastic and energetic youth of the Midwest."

Well, that just about says it all!

The front cover shows a poker game in progress. The back cover shows the four band members playing poker, and one of them has just won a big pot.

I love playing poker. We're trying to get a poker game started here at the PUNK office. Under normal circumstances we would have had a game going on during Meg Ryan's movie. That would have been cool! Me and Jolly and George Tabb and Kevin from Screw magazine drinking beer and playing poker while Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman eat a romantic dinner and recite their lines while shooting their movie a few feet away from us! Man oh man, I blew it this time! Maybe we could have talked Hugh into playing... Or maybe we could have talked Meg into a game of strip poker!

Reality check: I doubt that the production crew would have allowed us to play poker during the movie. They seemed kind of uptight that way. (But I can dream, can't I?)

Anyhow, Misunderstood are real good. I liked their CD.

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Chemical Generation Chemical Generation
GR Productions

Fast. So what. Fast just means more notes + lyrics + beats per instant. Y'know some classical music is very fast, too. Open the package to the lyric sheet-yap, that's a lotta lyrics. What else goes fast? My patience with this kind of crap. Lots of things go fast. They are from California, no wonder they suck. But I will say this, they suck quickly.

Really speedy get-away music. The singer sounds kinda like a little gremlin. I really like the fast-paced rhythm. The vocals could be a little stronger to match the rough beat, but there's something "troll under the bridge" lite about the lead singer's voice that I sort of like.

Very impressive sound for a three-piece band. They have a very good pledge that says that keeping their values in check is important and there's an oath to always have an energetic live show.

"It's a combination of punk rock and speed metal."

I like this. It's fast, loud, slick, and fun to listen to. Except the singer sounds like Frank Zappa on helium.

Well, anyhow, back to Kate + Leopold... I tried to get Meg Ryan to pose in a PUNK t-shirt when she came up to the PUNK office to film her movie with Hugh Jackman. But the crew talked me out of it. Meg (or even better, Denise Richards!), if you read this, it's not too late!

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Sean, who won an eBay auction I held, shows up. We take a break and we start talking about Joey Ramone. So we decide to play some Ramones music.

Meat Depressed Meat Depressed
Good Cop/Bad Cop Records

Every song on this disc sounds exactly like the Ramones. Even the titles are similar: "Swallow My Pride," "I Can't Be," "Slug."

They slavishly imitate every move, every tone, every nuance. How derivative can you get.

A great tribute to the Ramones, keeping the music and vocals true to the originals. The first track combines all the great songs into a really nice medley that flows from one song into another really smoothly. I really like Pete Depressed vocals A LOT. They're not over- or under-sung. Just a really nice sound to the vocals. I think this is one of the better Ramones tribute albums.

I can't comment on this CD because I did the cover artwork. I will mention that this is the first artwork I did for anyone over the last ten years... Since Murphy's Law's Best of Times CD. I turned down lots of assignments in the meantime but this one sounded like a perfect way to some out of retirement, and it came at the right time.

Also, off the record, I enjoy this CD because Meat Depressed cover a lot of really obscure Ramones song, like "Chop Suey" (a rarity from the Get Crazy soundtrack), "Yea Yea," "Babysitter," "Slug" (which, thanks to Joey's cooperation, I turned into an interactive computer program for K-Power (a kid's computer magazine in the early 1980s) and which was even played on an Atari 800 on MTV!), and many others.

But anyhow... Like I said, Hugh Jackman, who appeared in the X-Men movie, is the male romantic lead opposite Meg Ryan in Kate + Leopold (which they shot next to the PUNK corporate offices!). I was sorry I didn't hang out that night on the roof and introduce myself to Hugh because Rob Van Dam, the greatest professional wrestler of our time, told me that he and Hugh are good friends. I am sure Hugh and I could have had a nice talk about wrestling and comic books ('cause he seems to be a cool guy), and maybe Hugh would have worn a PUNK t-shirt and we would have a cool new photo for the Website. Oh, well...

Hard to go wrong with faithful Ramones covers. I kinda don't wanna like it, but I do anyway... It's what I remember my band in high school sounded like, even though we didn't. It's big failing is that the Ramones already did it, it makes me wanna listen to The Ramones. But that's what a tribute is for. It's a great break between Ramones disks... Put it in your changer and see if anyone notices!

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Ramones Ramones
Warner Strategic marketing/Rhino

Now that just does it! That takes the cake! This record... There is absolutely no difference between this record and the first Ramones record. None! What gives?!

No... Seriously this is the original. This is it. This record changed my life in one shot. Overnight I started winning fights. I saw the picture on the cover and I said, "Whoa! A cool buncha dudes!" + "I wanna join a gang!" So I did. The Riverside Boys.

We had rumbles 'n' everything. Started goin' out every Friday + Saturday night 'til five in the mornin'. Started drinkin' + sniffin' glue. Getting' laid. Hangin' out. Bein' a rough customer. Prior to that I was a mama's boy who got his ass kicked left, right + sideways. Tho' I got this record for my Bar mitzvah, I immediately started drawing swastikas in my notebook and diggin' Nazi paraphernalia. Whoopee! Lebensraum! Outta my way! Bought a leather jacket. My pal Vanya said, "You got that, you're gonna need this..." Gave me a chain with a lock on it to keep in the front. Sure enough it came in handy for street fights. Right away someone wanted to try to mug me-punch. Done. Someone else wanted to call my friend names: "Whyncha call me that baby!" Done. Punch. Many, many fights + many, many sniffin' glues + getting' laids later I'm still here + livin' larger than ever. All because of the Ramones. Gee whiz. Joey-T'anks!

The only thing you can say about this album is how frickin' good it is. Twenty-two songs on this CD (15 through 22 being bonus tracks). There is nothing bad whatsoever about this album.

The bonus track of "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" complete with light bells in the background was really just (not to be corny) beautiful. This should be a really great addition to anyone's Ramones collection. Seriously, you could listen to this album over and over again. It's really great. The demo songs (like "I Don't Care" and "Judy Is a Punk") are worthy of being a CD by themselves but the fact that you get tracks 1-14 as well makes this CD really worth whatever you pay for it.

This CD is part of an effort to release the first four Ramones albums with the original packaging and bonus tracks.

What the heck, since the original CD is finally being rereleased, so here's my original record review (from the August 1976 issue of Hit Parader magazine, (which was quoted in the print ads for the album, I am proud to say, and the only time I WAS quoted for print ads!)):

Sire Records

This album is pure TNT.

The Ramones are a new rock 'n' roll group. Unlike most young rock groups, they know what they're doing.

I like everything about this group, and the album captures the essence of the group as I've seen them live.

My favorite song on this album is "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue." I also like "Beat on the Brat," Judy is a Punk" (naturally), "Let's Dance," "Havana Affair," "Listen to My Heart" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" a whole lot.

Oh yeah: The Ramones don't play any music. Only songs. Fourteen songs. Fourteen good songs.

As soon as you see the Ramones you'll like them. They dress in leather jackets, y'know. They always do, even in real life, y'know. Even onstage, y'know.

Their music is very basic and you may not understand it at first listening. It may sound "monotonous." But if you listen a few times you'll find that its simplicity is tasteful and effective. The sound is textural instead of textured, and powerful, not injected with dynamics. The only criticism I have is that their early material, like "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement" and "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You" suffers on vinyl, where live it is performed with a vengeance.

Their lyrics are among my favorite rock lyrics. "Loudmouth" goes like this:

You're a loudmouth baby
You'd better shut up
Or I'll beat you up
'Cause you're a loudmouth baby

And that's all. I think it's very funny, really.

The Ramones are truly original. They don't remind me of anyone. They're not influenced. Their favorite stuff is mostly forgotten stuff from the sixties. The Ramones feel like that, but it's more than that. Although they play rock and roll, it's not the fifties sound at all. It's hard rock but it isn't overbearingly obnoxious. They play songs like the early Beatles and Rolling Stones, but they're better than the Beatles or the Stones.

I guess they sound like the Ramones.


Lisa Robinson was really cool to give me this assignment as my first-ever mainstream rock magazine writing job. In fact, Lisa did a lot behind the scenes to make punk rock happen and never received her just due. It was her article in Creem (and one by James Wolcott in the Village Voice) that inspired me to go to CBGBs to see the Ramones in the first place.

After I wrote that review for Lisa, I was spoiled. I had nowhere to go but down. I couldn't churn out record reviews of stuff I didn't like, or was indifferent to, just for money so I declined Lisa's offer to continue writing for Hit Parader. Legs McNeil got his first start as a magazine writer in my place, doing weird rock stories that were like movie plots instead of the usual rock mag fare. (Legs, you should publish these on the Web!)

It's difficult to believe that Sire was a small, struggling record label back then, and that they later made millions off of the Talking Heads and Madonna, but there you have it. I remember hanging out with Seymore Stein, the record company president, on many occasions back in the day. Nowadays, it's a lot more difficult to run into a record company president at your local rock and roll club.

In retrospect, I have to say that producer Craig Leon (who worked closely with Tommy Erdelyi, the Ramones' original drummer who, IMO, had THE MOST to do with creating the Ramones sound) doesn't get enough credit for what he did on this first LP. He was the guy who stripped the Ramones sound down to the bone. He also took this risk knowing that every producer after him would get credit for adding this or that, and for sweetening their sound and making it more commercial.

This is still my favorite Ramones album. It has the best songs on it. And they sound like just like they did when they were doing those amazing 20-minute sets at CBGBs, so this CD gives me some great memories.

You need this. I need this. I could write tons of stuff about this, but I'd rather listen to it. The extra stuff, early demos: The production's different but the Ramones are playing it exactly the same way. They had it right and knew it.

There's so much more going on in these songs than I remember, and I remember lots of stuff going on... Okay, some of the demos are a little slow... But that's why they were demos. "I Don't Care." "Today Your Love/Tomorrow The World" is much more nasty than the album version. And it just keeps coming. Jeezis. Anytime you want to hear where everybody else has gone wrong, put this on.

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