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Lately It All Sounds the Same to Me...
End of the Century
When the Ramones and Phil Spector recorded this album's opening track, "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio" in 1978, decrying the fact that what was selling/on the radio all sounded the same, i doubt that even they had any idea of just where that trend would ultimately take us before the actual end of the century...

But no matter how much the format fuehrers try to reduce rock and roll (radio) to soulless, mindless emasculated pap, no matter how many mediocrities clog the record stores and flood the airwaves, somewhere, someone is playing a Ramones album. And, if only for the length of one two-minute song, that person and everyone around him is being bombarded with the one true remedy for brain-fog -- Ramones music!

Teaming the Ramones with Phil Spector was brilliance -- though apparently only Joey really thought so at the time -- and yielded three or four of the most powerful additions to the Ramones' list in "R'n'R Radio", "Danny Says", "Chinese Rock" and the quirky "Return of Jakie and Judy".

"Radio", with its strong evocation of the icons of 60's rock -- the Ramones, like myself, are children of the Sixties and Spector helped to *make* the Sixties, and we all remember the old days of locally-programmed radio and real disk jockeys, when the music and the formats were both evolving and it was still possible to make it just on talent and energy; no PR agent or major-label deal required -- is a voice screaming in the wilderness. And nobody's listening.  And it's getting worse. 

Every band that stays together for any time and tours much will sooner or later record a touring song -- "Danny Says" is It. Featuring what has been aptly described as "the world's loudest acoustic guitar", Spector's production makes this song even better than it would have been in a more typical Ramones-style stripped-down production.

The main misstep in releasing this album was in the choice of a first single -- instead of the obvious (to me) possibilities of "Radio" or "Danny", someone -- Spector himself? -- chose the goofily appealing (but hardly typical or groundbreaking) "Baby I Love You".

At the time of release, a music-critic friend of mine remarked that, so far as he could see, the only people in the world who actually liked this album were him, me, Phil Spector and Joey Ramone.

That's obviously changed, and rightly so -- this is a great album showing a vital band at its energetic and artistic peak.