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Monday, January 18, 2016

10 "Other" Ramones Songs


When I bought my first Ramones album - Ramones Leave Home - way back in 1977 no one wanted to know about it, including the heavy metal kids I associated with. Never mind that it's arguably one of their heaviest albums. Didn't matter. It was a relatively small circle of Ramones fans back then - or so it seemed. But as time passed the world caught up and came to recognize their innate greatness. For the Ramones it was too little, too late, and of course all of the original members are gone now.

If one were to program a playlist of songs from this other Fab Four (Spin is said to have ranked them 2nd, after the Beatles, on a list of best bands) it would probably consist of many of the usual suspects. Let us review. There's Blitzkrieg Bop, Rockaway Beach, Sheena Is a Punk Rocker, I Wanna Be Sedated, Teenage Lobotomy, Rock 'n' Roll High School and Pet Semetary. These are among the band's best known songs. For good reason, for the most part, though I could do without the last one.

Of course, there are many more Ramones songs that are worth a listen. I've listed some below. Or you could just go with the first three albums, in their entirety. I'd add End of the Century to that list but that may be the minority opinion.

Ramones(1976)
Beat on the Brat
Keep it simple, stupid. About as simple as it gets and yet strangely alluring.

I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement
Horror movies meet punk rock and not for the last time.

Leave Home (1977)
Glad to See You Go
The first Ramones song I ever heard. Love at first listen.

Commando
One of the heaviest efforts in the Ramones songbook.

Rocket to Russia (1977)
I Wanna Be Well
You could compile an album (or more) of Ramones songs about mental health. One of the best.

Surfin' Bird
Many have tried (and failed) to capture something of majesty of this song, first recorded by The Trashmen, in 1963. The Ramones were one of the few to pull it off.

End of the Century (1980)
Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?
For their fifth studio album the group teamed up with the legendary and legendarily eccentric producer, Phil Spector. By all accounts it didn't go well. The reception to the album was mixed, but I mostly give it a thumbs up. The song that kicks it off is very Spectoresque and is about as catchy as they come. I rank in my top two of Ramones songs, along with Blitzkrieg Bop.

Danny Says
Because when you think of the Ramones the first thing that springs to mind is a ballad. A catchy one about the rigors of touring, from a foursome who knew that very well.

Pleasant Dreams (1981)
The KKK Took My Baby Away
Not much to recommend from this lackluster album but I'd rank this song in my top three.

Too Tough to Die (1984)
Wart Hog
The excitement of confronting a new Ramones album had dwindled by the time of their eighth studio album. But it was a decent effort and featured this song, a silly take on thrashing hardcore punk.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, by Algernon Blackwood

The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories
by Algernon Blackwood
1906

Of the many things Algernon Blackwood did in his lifetime the most notable is producing a substantial body of horror and weird fiction. He tends to be overshadowed by some other writers of yesteryear, but one of the best known of those writers, H.P. Lovecraft, offered high praise for his abilities:

Of the quality of Mr. Blackwood’s genius there can be no dispute; for no one has even approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity with which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences, or the preternatural insight with which he builds up detail by detail the complete sensations and perceptions leading from reality into supernormal life or vision. Without notable command of the poetic witchery of mere words, he is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere; and can evoke what amounts almost to a story from a simple fragment of humourless psychological description. Above all others he understands how fully some sensitive minds dwell forever on the borderland of dream, and how relatively slight is the distinction betwixt those images formed from actual objects and those excited by the play of the imagination.

The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories was the first of Blackwood’s many story collections. It first saw publication in 1906. The edition reviewed here was published in 1916.

Read more at Black Gate.