Before the Clash, before the Sex Pistols, there were the Ramones. The motley group from Forest Hills, Queens ignited the punk movement, first in New York and later in London, with an image and sound that cut to the core of rock and roll: jeans and leather jackets and two-minute songs played one after another at breakneck speed. As the band’s biography at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Web site says:
The Ramones revitalized rock and roll at one of its lowest ebbs, infusing it with punk energy, brash attitude and a loud, fast new sound. When the punk-rock quartet from Queens hit the street in 1976 with their self-titled first album, the rock scene in general had become somewhat bloated and narcissistic. The Ramones got back to basics: simple, speedy, stripped-down rock and roll songs. Voice, guitar, bass, drums. No makeup, no egos, no light shows, no nonsense.
On December 31, 1977, the Ramones played a classic show at the Rainbow Theatre in North London. The music was preserved on the 1979 album It’s Alive, considered by many to be the best live album from the punk era, and a portion of the show was later included in the film Ramones: It’s Alive 1974-1996.
The 26-minute film version (above) contains exactly half of the 28 songs on the album:
- Blitzkrieg Bop
- I Wanna Be Well
- Glad to See You Go
- You’re Gonna Kill That Girl
- Havana Affair
- Cretin Hop
- Listen to My Heart
- I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You
- Do You Wanna Dance?
- Now I Wanna Be a Good Boy
- Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
- We’re A Happy Family
The set list draws on material from the band’s first three albums: Ramones, from early 1976, and Leave Home and Rocket to Russia, both released in 1977. The Ramones are still in their classic lineup here, including Joey Ramone (Jeffrey Hyman) on vocals, Johnny Ramone (John Cummings) on guitar, Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Colvin) on bass and Tommy Ramone (Thomas Erdelyi) on drums. Tommy Ramone quit playing drums for the group a few months later. Ramones: It’s Alive captures one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time at their absolute zenith. It’s a great way to get the New Year’s party rolling. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!