If the Stooges and the New York Dolls were the parents of punk, then the Ramones were the wild, screaming infant — fresh, new, untamed and purely driven by primal instinct. Though born two years earlier in the middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, the Ramones truly came of age when they entered the recording studio for the first time in early February 1976. Released two months later on April 23rd, their self-titled debut took three-chord simplicity and mixed it with New York City attitude, breakneck speed and a hell of a lot of amp wattage. The opening salvo of “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Beat on the Brat,” and “Judy Is a Punk” offered just a taste of what was to come. In 29 minutes, the Ramones stripped away two decades of musical experimentation and left behind the pure clarity of industrial-strength rock.
The album sold poorly upon its release, but Ramones made rock stardom accessible to more than just a handful of virtuosos, and served as an invitation for generations of kids to grab a guitar and join the party. The album’s reputation as a pioneering punk work grows with each passing year. We salute, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy and their music with this collection of little-known facts.
The band had enough songs for three albums by the time it recorded Ramones.
It wasn’t unusual for a Ramones set to clock in at under 20 minutes when the band were cutting their teeth at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s in downtown New York City. When a longer concert was necessary, they simply took it from the top and repeated the performance.
But by the time the band recorded their first studio album, their set list had swelled considerably. “We had the songs for the first three albums when we did the first one,” recalled Johnny. “We already had 30 to 35 songs, and we recorded them in the chronological order that we wrote them. I didn’t want the second album to be a letdown by picking through all the best songs for the first album and using the lesser songs for the second album.” Even with the wealth of songs, the 14-track debut blows by in a brief 29 minutes and four seconds.
They recorded the songs in the same order they played them live.
The Ramones famously borrowed their moniker from Paul McCartney’s early stage name, but that wasn’t the only cue they took from the Fab Four. Much like the Beatles’ 1963 debut, which was recorded in a single marathon session, the Ramones wanted their first LP to have the excitement and spontaneity of their legendary live sets.