Weird Tales Of The Ramones

The Ramones

Sire/Rhino, 2005

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


On this three CD/one DVD box set, the late Johnny Ramone attempted to summarize the Ramones’ legendary recording career and dammit, he almost succeeded. There’s plenty to recommend here, but it’s also missing a few key tracks. It’s got (almost) everything from “Blitzkrieg Bop” to “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” and then some.

The first disc comprises the first four albums, the holy grails of old school punk rock. There are a few tracks missing from Rocket To Russia, including “I Can’t Give You Anything.” But really, you can’t go wrong with the first four records. Disc two starts off with “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,” which to me is a last gasp of their classic punk sound. As the band entered the ‘80s, they really struggled to keep their identity together. Conspicuously absent is one of my personal favorites from this era “We Want The Airwaves.” The selections tend to lean toward their best records like my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Too Tough To Die rather than a lackluster disc like Subterranean Jungle. Dee Dee really gets to shine as some of his outstanding contributions get a lot of love, like “Outsider” and “Wart Hog.”

The ‘80s is when the band started to go on autopilot, generally putting out generic records year in and year out, but they always managed to put out a bunch of great songs on each record and this is what the box tries to show off. Records like Pleasant Dreams and Animal Boy are generally not records that standout to most people but songs like “Time Bomb” and “Love Kills,” coincidentally both written by Dee Dee are some of their best from that era.

Disc three lags quite a bit, but that’s because records like Brain Drain and Mondo Bizarro just are not that good. But again, it’s tracks like “Punishment Fits The Crime” and “Strength To Endure” that really shine through all the mediocrity. In a way, this set is a much a tribute to Dee Dee as it is the whole band, as his contributions are the highlights of most of their late catalogue.

The DVD really is key as it brings together all the band’s music videos in one neat package.

While this is as close to definitive as all the Ramones compilations can be, it still feels like they skipped over a few key tracks and added in a lot of weakness. If a few unreleased demos and otherwise unreleased tracks had been added as well, it would have been the ultimate definitive collection. But for the diehard Ramones fan, this is the main package to own.

Rating: A-

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