Ramones: The Family Tree 2xCD ARGENTINA 
- Die Toten Hosen + Joey Ramone – Blitzkreig Bop
- Ramones – I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend [demo]
- Dee Dee Ramone + Joey Ramone – I’m Seeing UFOs
- Marky Ramone + The Intruders – 3 Cheers For You
- Bad Chopper [CJ Ramone] – Good Enough For Me
- The Swing Cats + Johnny Ramone + Lemmy – Good Rockin’ Tonight
- The Rattlers + Joey Ramone – On The Beach
- Dee Dee Ramone – Negative Creep
- Osaka Popstar + Marky Ramone – The KKK Took My Baby Away
- Blackfire + Joey Ramone – Lying To Myself
- Dee Dee Ramone + I.C.L.C. + Nina Hagen – I’m Making Monsters For My Friends
- Youth Gone Mad + Joey Ramone – Meatball Sandwich
- Bad Chopper [CJ Ramone] – Do It To Me
- Marky Ramone – Pet Sematary [live]
- Dee Dee Ramone – Now I Wanna Be Sedated
- Sibling Rivalry + Joey Ramone – See My Way
- Ramones – Judy Is A Punk [demo]
- Marky Ramone + Cherie Currie + Wayne Kramer – Cherry Bomb
- The Swing Cats + Johnny Ramone – Viva Las Vegas
- Dee Dee Ramone + Lux Interior – Bad Horoscope
- Marky Ramone + The Intruders – Nowhere Man
- CJ Ramone + Bien Descoupados – Punishment Fits The Crime
- The Independents + Joey Ramone – Slug [live]
- Uncle Monk [Tommy Ramone] – Round The Bend
- The Bowery Electric Crew [Marky, CJ + Tommy Ramone] – The Bowery Electric
- Dee Dee Ramone – Jump In The Fire
- Joey Ramone – The Wonderful Widow Of Eighteen Springs
This was an album that I had discovered during one of my spelunking sessions of Discogs.com. I was wondering if there were any loose Lux Interior guest shots out there that maybe I was unaware of. There aren’t many. I only really found that there was a Ramones compilation CD produced in Argentina in 2008 that had Lux teamed up with Dee Dee Ramone singing a song called “Bad Horoscope,” so I put it on my want list and didn’t expect to ever encounter it in an actual store, much less my local emporium. Yet there it was! Purchased late last year on a particularly good day where there was a lot of stock to force my hand.
The conception behind “Ramones [The Family Tree]” was brilliant. Compile a wide range of guest appearances and obscure solo work by members of Ramones. So it features Joey singing with other bands [including his brother Mickey’s – twice], Dee Dee solo and collaborative work, even Johnny Ramone’s two tracks that he ever cut apart from Ramones; Elvis covers, both. One, with Lemmy “singing!” Only in Latin America, where Ramones were feted like the heroes they actually were would a label think to compile a project this wide ranging, yet focused. So the fact that this album was made for the Argentinian market is perfectly logical. It sure doesn’t hurt that the twin, 14-cut discs are packed with the mixture of negativity and joy that only Ramones could serve up so enthusiastically.
The opener by Die Toten Hosen with Joey singing, served only to remind me what a tragedy it was that “Blitzkreig Bop” had never troubled the commercial airwaves in America. What a song; performed here con brio. To sweeten the pot, two previously unreleased Ramones early demos showed up. “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and the more idiosyncratic “Judy is A Punk.” Hearing the latter now, it’s very difficult to remember how shocking this sound of theirs must have sounded in 1975 when it emerged. I’m old enough to realize what the common sounds of the zeitgeist were, but for youngsters raised on punk rock, this may be a challenge.
“I Am Seeing U.F.O.s” was probably the closest thing to a new Ramones song here, with Dee Dee’s band fronted by Joey. Hearing Johnny venture as close to rockabilly as he ever did on the Swing Cats numbers is somewhat mind boggling. When Johnny retired after Ramones called it a day in 1996, he meant it, but reneged only to cover these Elvis songs. The vocal take of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” featured the leather larynx of Lemmy Kilmister caressing the lyrics. Slim Jim Phantom was the drummer.
One treat I was not expecting was the I.C.L.C. version of “I’m Making Monsters For My Friends” that predated the Ramones version on their “Adios Amigos” album. It still sounded every inch a Ramones number here, and that was even with Nina Hagen duetting with Dee Dee on the vocals, so their recording it was not surprising in retrospect. I loved hearing Marky Ramone + The Intruders greasy 50s throwback rock with delicious, sneering duet vocals from Joan Jett. “Don’t Blame Me” has some sort of lost classic status as a result.
The cut I bought this comp for, basically, was like getting a gift from the great beyond. I was floored when Lux Interior died suddenly in 2009 and have missed his presence over the years, so listening to Dee Dee Ramone’s “Bad Horoscope” with Lux singing was like hearing a “new” Cramps song for me. It played like a track that would have sounded so right at home on a late period Cramps classic like “Big Beat From Badsville.” If I had bought this album and disliked everything else this alone would have been worth it to buy.
Fans of Dee Dee’s early vocal tracks like “Wart Hog” should love the speedball impact of “Jump In The Fire.” Of course, it’s fast, being a Metallica cover. Another high velocity track was Blackfire’s “Lying To Myself” with Joey guesting. I was not previously aware of the Navajo punk band, but certainly approve of the hybrid vigor that undoubtedly generates.
A lot of this album echoes the typical sounds and energy of the Ramones, but a few outliers push the boundaries of the project further out. Uncle Monk [no relation] was Tommy Ramone’s bluegrass project. I remember them hitting bluegrass loving Asheville a few years back, but didn’t indulge. Maybe I should have, in spite of my dislike of the form. I’ll admit, that it sounds much more intriguing to have a guy from Brooklyn singing bluegrass with the furtheset thing from a Southern accent.
The cove of The Runaway’s classic “Cherry Bomb” with Marky drumming, The MC5’s Wayne Kramer on guitar, and Cherie Currie singing is probably the thing here that sounds the least like the inspiration for the album, but at least “Cherry Bomb” is a classic no matter how you slice it.
Finally, the strangest thing here must be Joey Ramone’s solo cover of John Cage’s “The Wonderful Widow Of Eighteen Springs.” It’s from the “Uncaged” John Cage tribute album, that also saw Joey rubbing shoulders with the likes of Deborah Harry, Lou Reed, and Jello Biafra. As well as – holy toledo – John Cale… with Ann Magnusson singing?! Why did I never hear of this 1993 album? Oh, I see. It was released in Italy/Germany only.
I’d definitely recommend this eclectic package for any Ramones fan who wants a taste of their sauce on some very different burgers. It’s a shame that this was released only in Argentina and Mexico. That the progenitors of this thing called punk rock never got the respect due to them in their native country that a project like this reflects, was further grist for the ulcer I hope to never have.
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