Remembering the Ramones' Rip-Roaring First Album

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Roberta Bayley/Redferns

On April 23, 1976, the history of rock and roll was irrevocably changed (even if rock and roll wouldn’t realize it for a little while) by the release of the self-titled debut album by the Ramones.

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Produced jointly by Craig Leon and Tommy Ramone, Ramones was famously recorded in a ridiculously short time and for an even more ridiculous amount of money: the sessions for the album were wrapped up within a week - instruments took three days to record, vocals took four -– and the grand total for the whole process was $6,400, startlingly low even by 1976 standards. In a 2004 interview, Leon conceded that the budget restrictions had a fair amount to do with the expediency of their recording, but he also noted that it really was all the time they needed to get the job done.

In writing about the album’s production, Nicholas Rhombes referred to it as “the ultimate do-it-yourself, amateur, reckless ethic that is associated with punk,” yet it was obviously that it was approached with a “high degree of preparedness and professionalism.” Yep, that sounds about right to us.

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For as rapturously as Ramones was received by critics and by the young punks who’d been following the band’s career and their shows at CBGB’s, the album certainly didn’t spawn any hit singles upon its release. It did manage to climb to No. 111 on the Billboard 200, and although it took plenty of years to do so, it also eventually earned a gold record. But in the long run, what matters most about the Ramones’ self-titled album is the amount of influence it had on the kids who listened to it at the time, the kids who listened to it in the 45 intervening years, and the kids who are still discovering it even now.

Go on, you know you want to listen to it again. 1-2-3-4!

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