13 Glorious Minutes of The Ramones in Kansas City, Captured on a Super‑8 Camera (1978)

Thir­teen min­utes was an awful long time for The Ramones, since they could play an entire album of songs in a quar­ter of an hour. Thus, when Ramones fan Mark Gilman snuck a Super‑8 sound cam­era into the Grena­da The­ater in Kansas City in July of 1978 to secret­ly film the band, he man­aged to cap­ture an awful lot of The Ramones on film before he was forced to shut it down. The band, as you can see above, was in top form.

I exag­ger­ate a lit­tle.… Ramones albums are longer than this film clip. Their self-titled 1976 debut is over twice the length at 29 min­utes, which is still three or four min­utes shy of the short­est LPs of the time (back when albums only meant vinyl). Into that almost-half-hour, the ulti­mate 70s New York punk band crammed 14 songs, at an aver­age of two min­utes each: no solos, no filler, no extend­ed intros, out­ros, or remix­es.…

That’s exact­ly what we see above: mops of hair and a sweaty, leather-and-den­im-clad wall of pure, dumb rock ’n’ roll, played blis­ter­ing­ly fast with max­i­mum atti­tude. It’s qual­i­ty, audi­ence-lev­el footage of about half a clas­sic Ramones show, which usu­al­ly spanned around 30 min­utes: no ban­ter, chat­ter, tun­ing up, requests, or encores. This is what you came for, and this — full-on assault of bub­blegum melodies, thud­ding chants of “I wan­na” and “I don’t wan­na” played with chain­saw pre­ci­sion — is what you get.

They seemed ful­ly-formed, walk­ing and talk­ing right of the womb when they hit stages out­side the New York clubs that nur­tured them. But four years ear­li­er, their first audi­ences did­n’t see a dis­ci­plined rock ’n’ roll machine; they saw a sham­bling mess. Ryan Bray describes the impres­sions of long­time tour man­ag­er Monte Mel­nick on first see­ing them in 1974:

Musi­cal­ly, songs like “Now I Wan­na Sniff Some Glue” were already in the band’s reper­toire, but the songs were plagued by errat­ic tem­pos, blown notes, and oth­er sort­ed son­ic mis­cues. Between-song bick­er­ing also marred the band’s ear­li­est shows. For a sec­ond, Dee Dee and Tom­my seem like they’re almost ready to come to blows when they can’t agree on what song to play next.

“I did­n’t like them at all,” Mel­nick remem­bers. “It was pret­ty raw. They were stop­ping and start­ing and fight­ing. They could bare­ly play.” They did­n’t meet a dev­il at a cross­roads in the years between these ear­ly gigs and their 1978 live album It’s Alive (record­ed at Lon­don’s Rain­bow The­atre on the last day of the year as the band fin­ished a 1977 UK tour). They played a hell of a lot of gigs, and pushed them­selves hard for a rock star­dom they’d nev­er real­ly achieve until their found­ing mem­bers died.

All­mu­sic’s Mark Dem­ing describes the band in 1978 as “relent­less.… a big-block hot rod thrown in to fifth gear” and calls their live album of the time “one of the best and most effec­tive live albums in the rock canon.” Watch them play “I Wan­na Be Well” at the Rain­bow The­atre, just above, and catch a rare bit of stage ban­ter from Joey regard­ing the pre­vi­ous night’s chick­en vin­daloo.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Dave Grohl & Greg Kurstin Cov­er The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” to Cel­e­brate Han­nukah: Hey! Oy! Let’s Goy!

Talk­ing Heads Per­form The Ramones’ “I Wan­na Be Your Boyfriend” Live in 1977 (and How the Bands Got Their Start Togeth­er)

CBGB’s Hey­day: Watch The Ramones, The Dead Boys, Bad Brains, Talk­ing Heads & Blondie Per­form Live (1974–1982)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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