IN CELEBRATION OF THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RAMONES’ EPONYMOUS DEBUT ALBUM, WE’RE PLEASED TO BRING YOU THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF RAMONES WEEK BY NICHOLAS ROMBES, AUTHOR OF THE 33 1/3 ON RAMONES.
The back of the Ramones’ debut album lists Craig Leon’s name in all caps, the only name to appear that way. In an interview, Leon told me that, “in the Seventies I had a sense of pop music being quite ephemeral but still reflecting the spirit of the time and place it came from. Kind of like the broadside sheets of told times. In fact this ‘folk’ communicative process was the primary criterion for any album to be recorded in my thinking at that time.”
Leon’s greatest production work from the punk era was with the Ramones and Suicide (he co-produced, with Marty Thau, their first album in 1977). In different ways, he achieved a separation of sound on both albums that allowed the music to reveal the conditions of its production. And so the songs are never just about the songs, but also about how they were produced.
And of course Tommy’s name appears there twice, once as Tommy Ramone and once as T. Erdelyi, associate producer. The son of Holocaust survivors. Would kids picking up the album in 1976 know any of this? If they had, would it have changed their understanding of the Nazi references in the lyrics? Probably not. But it’s a testament to the lasting power of their first album that its contradictions are still being sorted out, 40 years on.