erein are 20 near-greats done up in the Huntingtons’ inimitable style. Which also happens to be the Ramones’ inimitable style. If Mikey Huntington’s vocals do not quite achieve the brilliantly lumpen nasality of Joey Ramone’s, that is one of the few missteps on a collection that sets out to do what Harpo did to Groucho in the mirror scene.
What separates the Huntingtons from those sad “tribute” bands that play concerts in converted skating rinks and fall festivals in midsize cities is that the Originals were not all that original themselves. In fact, what made the Ramones circa 1978 the Greatest American Rock&Roll Band was your sense that they were alluding to bands your cool friends dug, but that you were too weeny to admit not knowing. So we all pogoed heroically and waited for someone to whisper the word “postmodern” to us.
How about this for ironic distancing, then? The Huntingtons, like the other rocking bands playing for Tooth & Nail, are Christians. You can buy this CD in the same Christian supply store where your grandpa got that Christ-fish decal for his Buick. And that, in the grand scale of Baudrillardian flim-flammery, is where the Huntingtons’ nerve-rattling transgressiveness hammers down hard. Of course, that means that they do not essay such Ramones’ masterpieces as “Now I Want to Sniff Some Glue,” but in the end all is well in PoMoland.
Because this is exceptional music to accompany strange behavior, you will giggle about it a lot and crank it loud and have to explain the joke to your friends. And when they go home you will probably want to haul Rocket to Russia out of the peach crate and blow a speaker. But if you don’t get around to taking File Under Ramones out of the CD player, that’ll be okay in its own slack-jawed way too. Louder and faster, and faker thus truer too.