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Review: A Tribute To The Ramones - We're A Happy Family

By Michael - 03-20-03

Disclaimer: Lots of profanity in this one, folks. I also need to point out that everybody has their own opinion, and musical tastes can be quite diverse. For example, you may like something that I hate (And I can hate you for that). My opinion doesn't count. Nobody listens to me or respects me in any way.

I initially began this critique by explaining my first exposure to the Ramones, along with a brief history of the band. I soon found that if I did that, this would quickly become a biography, so I'll just keep it simple and write the damned review.

Wandering around the local Sam Goody store, I came upon this CD: "A Tribute to Ramones - We're a Happy Family". Being a long-time Ramones fan, let me just tell you: I was thrilled. The compilation contains classic Ramones songs performed by popular bands such as Metallica, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marilyn Manson, and Garbage, along with neo-punk bands Green Day, Offspring, and Rancid. There are also a few artists I've never heard of, such as Whatsisface and Whatsername. The CD was produced for release by Rob Zombie and former Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone.

I foolishly thought to myself, "I like most of these bands. I like the Ramones. I have to buy this album!"

Immediately after the purchase, I opened the plastic wrapper with my teeth and popped the disc into my car's CD player...

1. Havana Affair - Red Hot Chili Peppers
First track. Okay, I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but they're at their best when they play the frantic, hyperactive shit. However, they take a peppy, upbeat classic (Havana Affair), and turn it into a slow, depressing, reggae-sounding atrocity. In my opinion, this wasn't the best song to start the album off with. We need something with a bit more kick. Next track...

2. Blitzkrieg Bop - Rob Zombie
Before I say anthing about this song, let me let you know that I love Rob Zombie's work as a musician and an artist. But I've gotta be honest and tell it as I see it. On this particular track, Rob Zombie took the classic Ramones staple and turned it into a sing-along techno rock fest - overdoing it by several miles. I didn't particularly like what he did to the song. In fact, the word I'd use to describe it would be cheesy. Another word I'd use would be rape. Yeah. That's it.

Used in a sentence: He rapes this song in the cheesiest way possible. 

I press the "next" button yet again.

3. I Believe In Miracles - Eddie Vedder & Zeke
So far, this cover seems pretty close to the original, just with a little more Eddie Vedderness. The tempo's about right, and the performance is not entirely unacceptable. But who the hell is Zeke?

For centuries, historians have pondered
the existence of the mysterious Zeke...

4. 53rd & 3rd - Metallica
Now, this is coming from a long-time Metallica fan and a long-time Ramones fan. This track is a bitter disappointment. You'd think that Metallica covering a Ramones song would be pretty damned cool. Metallica could add some heaviness to a classic tune while maintaining its punk speed and attitude. So what do they do? They slow the tempo to a crawl and palm-mute the song's three or four chords. Look - you're Metallica. Speed it the hell up!! I was also expecting James Hetfield to add a few swear words to the song, to make it sound more Metallica-like. For example:

(Singing): If you think you can-ah
Come on, motherfucker
I was a green beret-ah
In Vietnam, shitfuckbitch
(Hocks loogie. Spits.)

No such luck. Hetfield restrained himself for once.

5. Beat On The Brat - U2
The guitars are played as they should be. At least The Edge doesn't mess it up. 

Bono adds a little bit of unneeded "gayness" to the vocals, however. No, really. He sounds quite feminine.

6. Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio - Kiss
The intro and horn section are kept intact. The guitars are played correctly. Kiss adds that anthemic stadium sing-along feel. It just so happens that I don't particularly like Kiss, so I'm going to the next track.

7. The KKK Took My Baby Away - Marilyn Manson
OK. Take deep breaths. 

What the FUCK are these people thinking? You don't take a peppy, humorous song like this and slow it down to make it "creepy". Look. Just because it worked with "Sweet Dreams" doesn't mean that same strategy will work here. At the very least, Marilyn should start screaming during the chorus or something.

I'm waiting for the screaming...

...And there's no screaming. I'm falling asleep as I write this. I'm upset with you, Marilyn Manson.

8. I Just Wanna Have Something To Do - Garbage
I don't own any Garbage albums, but I've always respected their talent, and I've always liked what I've heard on the radio. Plus, Shirley Manson's voice turns me on. Garbage doesn't fuck the song up by changing it too much, but they add their own personal electronic touch to it. This is how a cover should be.

9. Outsider - Green Day
Green Day were obviously influenced by the Ramones, and they don't try to change the song too much. It's just Green Day playing Outsider. Good job.

10. Something To Believe In - The Pretenders
This is the longest song on the CD. It's too slow for me. Sorry.

11. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker - Rancid
Ah! Nice and fast! This is closest to what I imagined this CD would sound like. Ramones songs simply sped up. Party punk. This would've been a much better first track for the CD than the Chili Peppers song. So we're more than halfway through the CD and I've only found what? Two? Three decent songs?

12. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend - Pete Yorn
This guy sounds a lot like Joey Ramone did on the first album, before his voice got raspy. This is a pretty faithful cover with few changes.

13. I Wanna Be Sedated - The Offspring
We finally get to the Offspring! Adds a slightly bouncier vibe to the song without screwing it up. Another one that's pretty faithful to the original.

14. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow - Rooney
I'm not familiar with this particular song. I'm also not familiar with Rooney ( Maybe he hangs out with Zeke?). Anyway, I'll pass on this song, because it uses the words "I Love You" in the lyrics and I'm a jaded, hateful bastard who hates that kind of crap. That doesn't mean that you and your sweetie can't listen to sappy love songs and make disgusting kissy-faces and googly-eyes at each other. You all make me fucking sick. Go ahead and enjoy it while you can, because it'll all be over eventually. She'll get the house, and the car, and the kids, and half your money. You'll be out on the street, in the rain, screaming, "WHYYYYYYYYY?!!"

What was I saying? Oh. I don't really like this song.

15. Return of Jackie & Judy - Tom Waits
I'm sorry. I'm going to have to ask a question, and that question is "Double-U Tee Eff??!" This song was really not enjoyable at all. Now, I know that Tom Waits is a musical icon, but this is friggin' painful. Seriously. It hurts my ears. Really. If I'm on the other side of the room, and this song comes on, I groan in agony, covering my ears, stumbling laboriously to put a stop to the cause of my pain. If given the choice between listening to this song and getting stabbed in the ear with a pencil, I'd probably choose the song - but I'd have to carefully think about it for a few minutes first.

16. Daytime Dilemma (Dangers Of Love) - Eddie Vedder & Zeke
Eddie seems to add so much extra Eddie Vedderness™ that he sounds almost like a mumbling Elvis. I'm not entirely familiar with this song, so I can't really compare it to the original. All I can say is that this particular tune is a little weak for my personal tastes, but to make up for it, Eddie Vedder has gotten more nookie in one day than I will in my entire, lonely, hopeless life. And Ten was awesome. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Vedder.

17. Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World - John Frusciante
Oh crap. The former Chili Peppers guitarist took one of the peppiest songs ever, and turned it into a hippy-sounding chanting mantra complete with choir vocals. Yikes.


I have to sadly recommend against purchasing this album. There were only three or four tracks on this CD worth listening to, and they were the songs that remained closest to the originals. You'll be better off just buying an older Ramones album. Many of these artists ignored the main formula for the Ramones: Simplicity can be good. Don't screw with the Ramones sound too much, folks.


I feel like a complete asswipe insulting this album, because the bands that performed on it did so for a good cause. Partial proceeds from the sale of this CD will benefit the Lymphoma Research Foundation. I hate to deny potential donations to a worthwhile cause, so here's the deal: Stop by their website and find a way to donate






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