Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rufus Recordings- Ramone Army Split

"Simplicity. This is the place I believe the greatest beauty can be spawned from and it is evident in looking to a date in history that was the start of it all. On March 30th, 1974 at Performance Studios in New York, four guys with nothing to lose unknowingly began to pave the way to something incredible. As layers of the bloated mess that was music's current state were burned down by their defiance, hope for Rock 'n' Roll was revealed in the ashes. With each move they made, Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy  made it apparent that they weren't just playing music. They were changing the world, one person at a time. One small club at a time. One country at a time. This is not just music but an institution, where those of us who are not willing to accept the mediocrity of excess find ourselves, and nothing is ever the same again. We are punk rockers, and The Ramones are the ones who turned the light on. In this way of life we see that anything is possible and more than forty years later, the message hasn't become any less sacred. If anything, it has become more urgent, as the music industry slowly turns into a gelatinous blob of auto-tuned and uninspired crap, but all hope is not lost! I see a passion that still burns so bright when I look to The Mugwumps in Austria, to the Rivelles in the USA,  to Tough and the Riccobellis in Italy, and then in Japan with the Nerdy Jugheads and the Woodcocks. All over the globe it exists and from bands to fans, each of us are the voice for this beautiful lineage. Together we make sure it is heard and keep the hope alive. We are the Ramone Army."

I've gotten to take part in lots of cool things but back in August, my friend Paco Rufus approached me with a request that I was completely honored by. I had known for quite some time that his label would be releasing a six way split with bands from every end of the international punk rock spectrum, and he asked me to take the privilege of writing the liner notes. It took me all of a nanosecond to happily reply with a "yes!", and the words above are what I wrote for a kick ass record called "Ramone Army".

Because there's multiple bands on here, I won't get into the individual recording processes other than saying Alex Roman did the final mastering but even with that omitted, wow! Look at that cover!! One thing I really love about this record label is the amount of attention they give to presentation. They most certainly go above and beyond to ensure what you see will be just as cool as what you hear and I was shrieking with Riff Randell-like glee when I first saw it. Dee Dee Ramone's head imposed onto the body of the Creature From The Black Lagoon, holding the severed head of Bono is one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time haha! The rest of the layout is also very well done on the back cover with a picture of each band and no short cuts were made with the insert either. On one side you'll find my nerdy face in cartoon form which is made up for with a great picture of the four boys from Forrest Hills,NY and they make an additional appearance on the other side as cartoon zombies! It's a great illustration. Official release for this masterfully pieced together split happened on July 29th from Rufus Recordings and yes it does come with a download code if you purchase it through the label's bandcamp page where all the songs are streaming too! Go check them out.

With six bands, there's a lot of ground to cover but I'll touch on each one! Japan has a scene I admire greatly and having a band like the Woodcocks kick off Side A is a perfect example of why I feel this way. Comprised of members from Pelotan, the Hum Hums, and End Of Summer, Woodcocks offer very well composed pop punk songs with a heavy dose of harmony in the vocals that is wonderful. "Tell Me" is my favorite of theirs! No momentum is lost moving past that strong open because next up you'll hear my most favorite Austrian punk rockers, The Mugwumps showing up to steal your heart with very little effort. I always feel like I know their songs as well as my own pulse after one listen because they're that magnetic and I just adore the simple yet catchy as hell "Not Alone". "Psycho Pop" picks up a faster pace and rules too. Closing this side, we see the first appearance from a country that is mandatory to make an appearance if there is Ramone worship going on and you know I am talking about Italy. The Riccobellis start out with a sweet approach in my favorite of their two, "I Need You Anyway" and the Italian invasion is just getting started because Tough is waiting for you on the other side! Opening Side B, these are the remaining two songs from their last recording session with Stefanino and that makes me very happy. "Queen Of The Last Hole" veers off the well beaten path Tough usually takes, still powerful but varied in style and I think that makes it a cool choice for a release like this. Their cover of The Automatics' "Tokyo" is a great classic to go with and was also executed with lots of passion. Japan shows up again after them, this time in the form of The Nerdy Jugheads and they're just as vibrant as the Woodcocks! Fronted by Yoshi, they have an approach that is influenced by Warning Device era Teenage Bottlerocket and that is my favorite kind of TBR, but then lots of their own personality is added in. "I Don't Wanna Go Back To The Nuthouse" sticks to my brain like glue and I'm ok with that. Closing this six band presentation of true-hearted rock 'n' roll is the Rivelles! Formerly of Appleton,WI and now located in Spain, I've been a fan of these guys and gal for awhile. Their very true to the foundation style punk rock is always beautifully done and there's two great songs backing up that description. The Grease inspired "Sandy" is lots of fun and has a great solo but the buzzsaw "Revenge Mission" has all the punch of a first Ramones record track, and that makes it my favorite.

There has been lots of great individual releases this year but it's always nice to see these splits happen as an opportunity for those that might not be so well versed in all of these bands to get turned onto something new. Paco and Marta did a lovely job making this record happen so make sure to pick up a copy of your own from them soon, then check out their other inventory as well because they're running a ridiculously good promotion right now on the Rufus Recordings website! The Ramone Army is alive and well all over the world. That's a beautiful thing.

Side A
Woodcocks are...
Ryosuke- Guitar and Vocals
Tomorrow- Bass and Chorus
Hiroshi- Drums and Chorus
1. "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight"
2. "Tell Me"
Chris- Guitar and Vocals
Hank- Bass
Andy- Drums
3. "Not Alone"
4. "Psycho Pop"
Riccobellis are...
Roby Riccobelli- Bass and Vocals
Dave Riccobelli- Drums
Simone Riccobelli- Guitar and Vocals
5. "I Need You Anyway"
6. "I'll Be Waiting For You"
Side B
Tough is...
Chris Polecat- Bass and Vocals
Robi Tuono- Guitar
Biso- Drums
7. "Tokyo"
8. "Queen Of The Last Hole"
Yoshi Sucks- Guitar and Vocals
Yoshihito Memma- Guitar and Backing Vocals 
Ryo Saito- Bass and Backing Vocals
Kazu Bulgogi- Drums and Backing Vocals 
9. "I Don't Wanna Go Back To The Nuthouse"
10. "Chupacabra"
Rivelles are...
Matthew- Vocals and Bass
Kevin- Guitar and Vocals
Nickole- Drums
11. "Revenge Mission"
12. "Sandy"

No comments:

Post a Comment