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On May 22, the second solo album of iconic punk-rock singer Joey Ramone was released. Titled ‘…Ya know?’, the album is a compilation of tracks that Ramone composed during the last 15 years of his life; it also features two tracks, ‘Merry Christmas Baby (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’ and ‘Life’s a Gas,’ previously released by the Ramones, and re-invented on this album.
The record was produced by Ed Stasium and Jean Beauvoir; musicians such as Richie Ramone, Steven Van Zandt, Holly Beth Vincent, Joan Jett, and Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh, and others, collaborated for the realization of the album. All the tracks have been re-recorded for the occasion.
Joey Ramone passed away in 2001, and ‘…Ya Know?’ is the second solo album released under his name, post-mortem. In 2002 the album ‘Don’t Worry About Me’ received good responses from audiences and critics.
Those who expected ‘…Ya Know?’ to define the image of Joey Ramone separately from his time with the Ramones, detaching his musical approach from the band’s, are going to be very disappointed. Ramones fans, instead, will be very happy about the album. The spirit of the record screams “Ramones” loud and clear. Even if Joey Ramone experimented with variations in his approach, touching upon a more pop-oriented path as well, such as in ‘Party Line,’ the old school punk sentiment strongly manifests itself along the entire record.
The opening of the album already sets the listeners’ minds on the typical punk attitude of the youngster who tries to escape a disappointing reality through music; ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Is The Answer’ sings Ramone. The track energetically pulls the listeners into the journey of the album, where the guitars manage to get the attention they want, and the drums properly accompany the inspired lyrics sung by Ramone.
‘…Ya Know?’ is a pleasant listen; it goes on smoothly and there are no big surprises in terms of sonorities. One might say there is a lack of originality, as Ramone stays faithful to his roots; but when you are Joey Ramone, and you already gave the world an entirely new and innovative style and sound, you don’t need to be original in a posthumous album. The record manages to make Ramones’ fans feel safe during the listen.
‘Merry Christmas Baby (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’ and ‘Life’s a Gas,’ the two tracks previously released by the Ramones, are the greatest disappointments on the album; their re-invention creates confusion as they seem to ‘try too hard.’ But in the end, they are funny to listen to if approached with the right attitude.
The record does not get old, in the sense that it has the potential of being a classic just because Joey Ramone is singing. It is maybe not the greatest album one could expect from such a legend, but it offers a chance to “pay a visit” to the late punk rocker. All in all, it contains demos composed and performed by one of the greatest visionaries of music history, and for that, we are grateful.
Rating: GOOD 3.5/5