Review by Suzi H
The Ramones. One of my gateway bands into Metal and Punk. I think I was about 15 the first time I heard them, and from the minute the first notes of Somebody Put Something In My Drink filtered down my adolescent ear canal I was hooked. Fast forward more years than I’m happy numbering for you lot, an email lands in my inbox telling me that Richie Ramone, former Ramones drummer, the man Joey famously credited with ‘saving the band‘ and the author of my aforementioned favourite Ramones track, is releasing his debut solo album.
Well that was an exciting day in my house I can tell you. What makes it even more exciting is that Richie’s lead guitarist just so happens to be the mighty Alex Kane, who for the uninitiated was in Anti Product my most favourite Punk band of all time ever. And Claire from Anti Product? Yeah, she’s in Ritchie’s band too. Basically, this album is the product of Punk royalty. But does it live up to it’s pedigree?
Entitled primarily contains new songs, but there’s also re-recordings of Smash You, I’m not Jesus, I Know Better Now Humankind and if you buy the LP you get the iconic Somebody Put Something In My Drink. As it is, I only have the digital copy of the album, so no Somebody for me.
Entitled kicks off with Criminal. Now I’ll admit my first reaction to this track was not a good one – I wasn’t expecting Richie’s vocals; I was expecting Joey’s and so it was a shock. Anyway, by the second listen through I was thrilled – this is some hefty old school New York Punk right here, but with modern guitars and those riffs are… just… well, they’re soul-pleasingly beautiful.
One gloriously old school track is a good start, and then we get the first re-recorded Ramones track with I Know Better Now.
Entitled is the title track of the album and it’s smoother than a 20 year old single malt. It’s very Easy Rider with a bass line that promises dark clubs, lots of eyeliner, smokey dance floors and lots of sex. Entitled is a sexy, sexy track which always surprising on a Punk album – Punk for me is aggression, rage and sticking two fingers up at the establishment, not something that can be pole-danced to, but if anyone’s going to manage to break new ground in a genre that hasn’t changed much since 1979, then it would be Richie.
Take My Hand is not a Ramones track, but it sounds like one. It’s the first hint of a song on this album which demonstrates the history behind the album – Joey and DeeDee would have been proud of this one. It’s fast and aggressive and punchy and reminds me of Somebody in a way I can’t quite explain. Next up is Smash You and then we have Better Than Me.
Better Than Me has a gloriously blues-y opening and is again some super smooth bass-y music with an eerie melody and if you aren’t swaying by the end of the first verse then you’re missing some Soul somewhere along the line.
Someday Girl is raw and poignant. It’s got stripped down guitars and haunting lyrics and it’s just… sad. But fucking brilliant. Absolutely and utterly brilliant. I want the video to have some Debbie Harry lookalike running down a New York street with a fur coat flying off her shoulders, while the band plays the track on a Manhattan rooftop and Richie scowls at the camera with a fag hanging from the side of his mouth and oversized sunglasses on. It’s evocative and brilliant.
Into The Fire changes the albums pace and we go from Thoughtful Nostalgic Ritchie to Angry Telling You To Fuck Off Richie. It’s punchy and rough and lends itself well to some energetic headbanging and fist pumping. It’s followed by the re-recorded I’m Not Jesus and Humankind.
Entitled rounds out with Vulnerable and Forgotten Years both of which stand up nicely as original tracks and leave this debut effort making it clear this might be the first solo work, but this is not Richie’s first rodeo.This album is very old school, but he’s managed to make it modern enough that it has real day relevance and there’s about to be a whole new generation of kids getting their rocks off to Somebody Put Something In My Drink but now they’ll be listening to Richie’s version and not the Ramones version.
The European leg of the supporting tour hits the UK at the start of December – I’d like to recommend you get yourself down there.