Music

Joey Ramone: Ya Know

Is it up to Ramones-levels? No, not really, but then again, what is? It's a damn decent pop collection, and I'm sure that Joey would have taken that as high praise.


Joey Ramone

…Ya Know?

Label: BMG Rights
US Release Date: 2012-05-22
UK Release Date: Import
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

First Tupac’s hologram, then Whitney’s role in the upcoming Sparkle. Not to mention the chart-topping sales of Amy Winehouse, post-mortem. Maybe it’s something apocalyptic in the air, but it seems your best shot in the pop world these days is to kick the bucket. The dead have risen; beware the pop-rock zombies.

But Joey Ramone never courted fame and fortune, even during the short time he was alive. His latest "solo album," which comes a decade after his death, might come off at first as a crass commercialist attempt on the part of Ramone's brother, and album producer, Mickey Leigh. But ultimately, it's a fitting tribute to the man who was the beating heart at the center of the Ramones, one of the greatest bands of all time.

The only other Joey "solo” album," Don't Worry About Me, was released in 2002, shortly after the singer’s death, featuring a popular cover of the Louis Armstrong hit "What a Wonderful World". And while that wasn't a great album, it was a necessary one, a cleaning of house, a ritual farewell to a great singer from a great band. ...Ya Know?, assembled from a collection of demos, outtakes, and unreleased tracks, is by no means a "great album," and burdened by inexplicable timing, but it has enough fond memories to make it worth pursuing for true Ramones fans.

This ever-so-Frankensteinian pop album is stitched together not just by Ramone's iconic vocals, but the guest appearances of several famous friends, including Joan Jett, Steven van Zandt, and members of Cheap Trick and the Dictators. Retroactively refitted with a glossy coating, the presumably bare-bones of Joey's original records sound as buff and healthy as any 80s arena-rock track.

We’ll never know if those were Joey’s intentions, but the Ramones were often at their strongest with a bit of sheen (End of the Century being the best example), and the glossy production on ...Ya Know often works to its benefit. Its most successful tracks ("I Couldn’t Sleep", a great cover of T. Rex's "Life's a Gas") have a mix of winning lyrics and engaging hooks, and that’s something no production values can replicate.

Even the admittedly unimpressive tracks ("Waiting for the Railroad", "New York City") have an unapologetic, charming side to them. I think it's something called the "Joey Ramone effect," where an artist's persona is so charming, so genuine, that you can't help but forgive a few flaws. Ringo Starr suffers from a similar syndrome.

The largest problem is, perhaps unsurprisingly for an album like this, a lack of cohesion. The material never coalesces into anything greater than a collection of b-sides and rare numbers, and while Leigh might never have intended anything more, Joey's memory deserves better. Coming from the Ramones, a band never known for excess (musically, at least), ...Ya Know is too long and too stuffed full of tracks that just don't seem essential ("Eyes of Green", "Make Me Tremble"). Twenty minutes shorter and we'd have something indispensable. But as is, it's hard to complain about an excess of one of rock's most unique and winning voices.

Is it up to Ramones-levels? No, not really, but then again, what is? It's a damn decent pop collection, and I'm sure that Joey would have taken that as high praise.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Music

Hip-Hop's Raashan Ahmad Talks About His Place in 'The Sun'

On his latest work,The Sun, rapper Raashan Ahmad brings his irrepressible charisma to this set of Afrobeat-influenced hip-hop.

Music

Between the Buried and Me's Baby Pictures Star in 'The Silent Circus'

The Silent Circus shows Between the Buried and Me developing towards the progressive metal titans they would eventually become.

Music

The Chad Taylor Trio Get Funky and Fiery on 'The Daily Biological'

A nimble jazz power trio of drums, tenor sax, and piano, the Chad Taylor Trio is free and fun, funky and fiery on The Daily Biological.

Music

Vistas' 'Everything Changes in the End' Is Catchy and Fun Guitar Rock

Vistas' debut, Everything Changes in the End, features bright rock music that pulls influences from power-pop and indie rock.

Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Music

Maestro Gamin and Aeks' Latest EP Delivers LA Hip-Hop Cool (premiere + interview)

MaestroAeks' Sapodigo is a collection of blunted hip-hop tunes, sometimes nudging a fulsome boom-bap and other times trading on laid-back, mellow grooves.

Music

Soul Blues' Sugaray Rayford Delivers a "Homemade Disaster" (premiere + Q&A)

What was going to be a year of touring and building Sugaray Rayford's fanbase has turned into a year of staying home and reaching out to fans from his Arizona home.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.