Monday, May 22, 2006
Written by Fantasma el Rey
Marky Ramone is a definite punk rock legend, so of course I jumped at the chance to review this two-disk set. Disk one is a best of Marky and his band the Intruders, while disk two is a tribute to the band that he is best known to have played with, obviously The Ramones. Yet before he became a Ramone, Marc Bell spent some time with bands such as Wayne County and Richard Hell and The Voidoids.
Hell, a punk legend himself, in one story says that Marky finally left the band because he grew tired of “eating dog food”. Hell (who is know for being a bit difficult, no… eccentric that’s a better word, has more of a ring to it, eccentric; see what I mean.) at this time would only do gigs sporadically, or as lore would have it, when the rent was due. Another account of Marky’s departure is the simple fact that The Ramones drummer, Tommy was leaving the band, so bassist Dee Dee Ramone asked Marky to take his place. However you look at it, considering the punk rock scene, it was more than likely a result of both. So, join The Ramones he did and the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
Marky’s wide range of influences made him a perfect fit for The Ramones; along with the others, he dug everything from 1950s rock ‘n’ roll to the girl groups of the early sixties. With The Ramones, as well as with The Intruders you can hear these influences come through in the music that both bands play. Although, that seems to be the case with any band that Marky plays with or has a hand in shaping the sound of.
On disk one of Start Of The Century, both versions of The Intruders (there are two different line-ups) have a traditional punk sound. Gritty, tense vocals weaved together with solid bass runs and loud, simple guitar riffs, while being held together by the superb drumming skills of Marky. Some of the standout tracks for me include a punked-up version of the Beatles' “Nowhere Man” and the piano-led, late ‘50s-styled rocker “Don’t Blame Me”, which has a great sax solo and guest vocals by Joan Jett. “Road Rage” is a fun number with a quirky sound that resembles “The Monster Mash.” Which reminds me that Marky did play on a version of said song for The Misfits' Jerry Only’s little record entitled Misfits: Project 1950. In fact, Marky played drums on that entire album and also played piano, which leads me to believe he may have played them on “Don’t Blame Me” as well. On “Man Of God” we even get to hear Marky do the lead vocals, which are all right, but his drumming is where it’s at.
Disk two is Marky’s tribute to the band from which he takes his name, The Ramones. The disk has that fake recorded live sound, where you get Marky doing intros to songs and the crowd can be heard whistling and cheering, yet it just sounds too fake to be real. When he mentions some songs, the crowd’s response doesn’t change like it would at a true live performance. The band sounds great and does a good job of the task at hand. This line-up is again completely different from the previous two on disk one. They play some “tuff” versions of Ramones’ classics such as my favorite “53rd & 3rd,” “Havana Affair,” “Blitzkrieg Bop” as well as “Chinese Rocks” co-written by the aforementioned Richard Hell. Disk two is a solid collection of Ramones' tunes propelled by Marky’s drumming. And as a special treat they play “Happy Birthday”.
Both CDs are good examples of punk rock the way it should be played, at times loud, fast and hard, while on some tunes you can hear rocking sounds of the past; The twenty-eight tracks on disk one move very quickly, as do the eighteen on disk two. Marky shows that no matter what band he leads he holds them together very well; for a man who has been around the block quite a few times, his drumming still thunders loud and punk proud.
A special thank you is in order here, for a very good buddy of mine, who even in his youthfulness is a wealth of punk information. Through him, I have learned a lot more about this thing called "Punk" than I ever would have simply on my own; his CD collection as well as his books and magazines are a seemingly endless source of knowledge. The compilation disks he has put together for me are excellent examples of punk history and should be sold for twenty bucks a pop; seriously this cat makes a mean sample of punk. Thanks, Eric, never stop rockin’, brother!