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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Review: End Of The Century - The Story Of The Ramones

When I ponder the Ramones I wonder if anyone in the band was capable of honest reflection. I thought Joey the most likely but now I see it was Johnny, no matter how stubborn and unpleasant. End Of The Century is a great documentary, and like Johnny said, "It's accurate. It left me disturbed". All the major players are included but I think Joey died before he could be involved directly. If he were I don't think he would cleared anything up anyway. Only Johnny could ask if he fugged up and then consider the answer.

At 1:45 it's too long. I don't see any band history that can't be told in an hour flat. There's a recurring theme of "No Future" that doesn't hold true and was already beat to death by the Sex Pistols. The great overall theme of their career was that they never got their due. That's not true. They went as far as they could, which was amazingly far considering how outside the mainstream they were. The mainstream came to them much later but that's simply how it worked out. I see no conspiracy or crime. Crap, go ask the Velvet Underground. My only other negative comment is that once CJ joined the band they played too fast in concert, destroying whatever melody remained.

Dee Dee is desperate to be liked but has the honesty of a junkie. He was the handsome one but aged into a clown-faced hobo. He was worthless except he wrote so many of the best Ramones songs. Tommy gets no respect but he put the band together and was at least sane. Joey's a lovable guy, for a Ramone, but it's said of him that "(He) could carry a grudge like an elephant never forgets". Johnny is a cold customer but he made the Ramones work as both a musician and business manager. Johnny saw the Ramones as a business and there's nothing wrong with that since he insisted on giving the fans what they wanted - a band that never aged and never changed.

The Ramones are the single most important band in punk history, and I'm glad a great film was made about them. Legs McNeil says about punk and the Ramones in particular, "You take everything that's sh--ty and you celebrate it, and make it good." For better or worse that's probably correct.


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