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Weird Tales of the Ramones (1976-1996)

Weird Tales of the Ramones (1976-1996)

4.5 2
by Ramones
With the exception of Elvis Presley and the Beatles, it's hard to imagine any act exerting more of an influence on rock 'n' roll than the bruddas Ramone. That importance is captured eloquently on this far-reaching box set, which chronicles the history of the punk pioneers without casting them into the swamp of stodginess that accompanies most historical retrospectives


With the exception of Elvis Presley and the Beatles, it's hard to imagine any act exerting more of an influence on rock 'n' roll than the bruddas Ramone. That importance is captured eloquently on this far-reaching box set, which chronicles the history of the punk pioneers without casting them into the swamp of stodginess that accompanies most historical retrospectives. Weird Tales of the Ramones hews pretty closely to the band's official catalog -- collecting tunes from their breathlessly revelatory debut (like "Blitzkrieg Bop") as well as their swan song (the righteously self-referential "R.A.M.O.N.E.S.") -- on three discs that comprise four score and five short, sharp tunes. The aural component, while useful to non-completists, won't do much for diehard Ramoniacs. What will, however, is the set's visual component, a DCD that includes every video the Ramones made during their two-plus decades together, not to mention a passel of interviews with the gents bearing the Ramone surname as well as a slew of their CBGB-era contemporaries. Befitting its title, Weird Tales is rounded out by a full-color comic book–themed booklet -- featuring exclusive illustrations by noted artists including Sergio Aragones (Mad Magazine), Xaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets), Bill Stout (EC Comics), and more -- that tells the strange-but-true story of the four lads from Queens who'd ultimately emerge as the voice of a generation. Gabba, Gabba Hey indeed!

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It's easy to look at Rhino's 2005 box set Weird Tales of the Ramones and wonder whether it's necessary. After all, there are albums for Ramones fans of all stripes: a single disc of hits for the casual fan, a double-disc set for those who love the Ramones but don't want all the albums, then, of course, the original records -- all of the prime Sire albums from the '70s and early '80s were recently reissued in expanded editions by Rhino -- for all true rockers. These should satisfy every different audience the band has, so why bother with a box set? The answer to the question is that Weird Tales of the Ramones isn't really a CD box set, even though it contains three career-spanning CDs compiled by the late Johnny Ramone -- it's a collectable, an object of art, one that's closer to being a book augmented by three CDs and a DVD than a conventional CD box set. More precisely, it's a 54-page comic book hidden inside a hardcover book that's designed like an oversized comic. It will not fit neatly next to the other box sets in your collection, which is appropriate, since Weird Tales of the Ramones is not like other box sets. Although the three discs do a good job of tracing the band's career, hitting nearly all of the high points along with more lows than necessary -- there is a palpable, unavoidable dip in quality that arrives midway through the second disc that no amount polishing or selective editing can save -- the music is nearly beside the point: the discs function as the soundtrack to the myth the entire set sells. And make no mistake, this is all about myths and comic book heroes, what fans wanted the Ramones to be -- what the band seemed to be, on their first four albums -- rather than what they actually were. It's the antidote to the blunt, honest, wholly depressing feature-length documentary End of the Century, which made no secret of the bandmembers' disdain for each other and their business-like approach to being in a band. Such animosity and discord are gleefully ignored by the 25 comic artists whose interpretations of the Ramones are the heart and soul of this set. John Holstrom, a co-founder of Punk magazine who provided illustrations to Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin, appropriately gets the keynote story and dispenses with a cartoon version of the basic history -- which is then augmented by Jordan Crane's brief run-through of the band's lineup changes -- but that's it as far as hard facts go. After that, it's all rock & roll fantasy: tales of the Ramones riding around the world as a gang, having outlandish adventures; stories of meeting a Ramone, usually Joey, in the flesh; wondrous re-creations of classic comic art, the flashiest being a 3-D homage to EC horror comics by Steve Vance and John Vankin, but that's topped by Wayno's sublime "Sea-Markys" send-up of Sea Monkeys. There are illustrated anecdotes, one too many allegories of how the band saved rock & roll, pictures of the band drawn as Dr. Seuss characters, encounters with Betty & Veronica and Homer Simpson, while Mad's Sergio Aragones draws a typical chaotic scene of a Ramones concert. There's such a wide range that Johnny Ryan's cheerfully moronic, violent, and vulgar comic strips sit comfortably next to Steven Weissman's story of Liz Fox, a 15 year old who is the outcast at her high school and finds not just solace in the Ramones, but how the group suggests that there is a bigger, better, smarter world out there. These two stories coexist comfortably because the Ramones represented both extremes simultaneously -- sure, they celebrated bad taste and danced with danger, but their music was smartly stupid, knowing, and knowledgeable about pop music. In their heyday -- and, truth be told, also in the years just after their heyday, when they trudged through the '80s as a working band, turning out muddled records yet still retaining their '70s mystique -- being a Ramones fan meant that you were an outsider, something different from the norm. Once that era passed, it was no longer a given that being a Ramones fan meant that you were part of a subculture. As they launched their farewell tour in the mid-'90s, they were playing for an audience that embraced them for what they represented -- namely, an idealized version of the glory days of punk -- not who they were or the music they made. They were playing to an audience that either were too young or too square to get them at the time, and in the decade between that breakup and this box set, the situation has metamorphosed into full-blown farce, as the Ramones not only sold more T-shirts and were better-known than they were during their prime, but "Blitzkrieg Bop" had been used as a soundtrack to a Diet Pepsi ad without any acknowledgement of the dark, ironic undercurrents in the song. What's brilliant about Weird Tales of the Ramones is that it ignores all of this and prints the myth, which remains as inspirational and timeless as their best music. As wonderful as this is, there is a melancholy undercurrent to this whole set. The trajectory of the band's music itself is a little sad. What was once so bracing and fresh starts to slowly stagnate only a few years after their 1976 debut. While these three discs do a decent job of camouflaging the group's decline -- not only did Johnny Ramone do an excellent job of cherry-picking the best moments from uneven records, great bands like the Ramones are always listenable and rarely truly bad -- their songwriting turned flat somewhere after 1985, and their productions were getting too hard, glossy, and polished well before that, all of which makes the last half of this set a little hard to get through in one sitting. The DVD is uneven, starting out strong with a few excellent clips like the classic "Merry Christmas Baby (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" and the time-lapse photography "I Wanna Be Sedated," but devolving into too many performance clips. By the end of the 18 videos, it's clear that the comic book artists visually capture the spirit of the Ramones better than the video directors. And this comic book is truly something special: lovingly produced, funny, and oddly moving, it captures both the essence of the band and what their legions of fans saw in the group. Once the book has been read, a revelation hits you like a ton of bricks: everything that Weird Tales of the Ramones celebrates is gone. It's been 30 years since the group's debut. Three quarters of the original lineup of the Ramones are dead. CBGB's was struggling to survive the very month this box was released. Many of the visual references in the comic book are anywhere from 30 to 50 years old. Kids don't read comics any more, adults do. (It could even be convincingly argued that kids aren't into rock & roll anymore, either.) The culture that produced the Ramones is gone, and the culture they spawned has changed too, drifting away from the riotous amalgam of high and low culture that was punk and turning into something slick, soulless, crass, and small. Sure, Weird Tales of the Ramones disregards what punk became and celebrates the band at its peak and it's undeniably fun in that, but it's hard to shake the feeling that this is a tombstone, a memorial to the midpoint of the rock & roll era, when everything old was new again and when the music had inherent kinetic excitement and limitless potential. This may not make it a necessary purchase for most rock & roll fans -- chances are they already have the music, and there are no real musical rarities here -- but people who had their lives changed by rock & roll or love it unconditionally will find the whole of this set both life-affirming and startlingly poignant.
Entertainment Weekly - Tom Sinclair
The packaging alone is worth it. (A)

Product Details

Release Date:

Related Subjects


Disc 1

  1. Blitzkrieg Bop
  2. Beat on the Brat
  3. Judy Is a Punk
  4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  5. Loudmouth
  6. 53rd & 3rd
  7. Havana Affair
  8. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
  9. Glad to See You Go
  10. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
  11. I Remember You
  12. Carbona Not Glue
  13. Oh, Oh, I Love Her So
  14. Swallow My Pride
  15. Commando
  16. Pinhead
  17. Sheena Is a Punk Rocker
  18. I Don't Care
  19. Rockaway Beach
  20. Cretin Hop
  21. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
  22. Teenage Lobotomy
  23. Slug
  24. Surfin' Bird
  25. We're a Happy Family
  26. I Just Want to Have Something to Do
  27. I Wanted Everything
  28. Needles & Pins
  29. I Wanna Be Sedated
  30. Go Mental
  31. Don't Come Close
  32. I Don't Want You
  33. She's the One
  34. I'm Against It

Disc 2

  1. Rock 'N' Roll High School
  2. I Want You Around
  3. Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?
  4. I'm Affected
  5. Danny Says
  6. The KKK Took My Baby Away
  7. You Sound Like You're Sick
  8. She's a Sensation
  9. All's Quiet on the Eastern Front
  10. Outsider
  11. Highest Trails Above
  12. Psycho Therapy
  13. Time Bomb
  14. Mama's Boy
  15. I'm Not Afraid of Life
  16. Too Tough to Die
  17. Wart Hog
  18. Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)
  19. Daytime Dilemma (Dangers of Love)
  20. Endless Vacation
  21. My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg) " [Vers
  22. Somebody Put Something in My Drink
  23. Animal Boy
  24. I Don't Want to Live This Life (Anymore)
  25. Love Kills
  26. Something to Believe In

Disc 3

  1. I Wanna Live
  2. Bop 'Til You Drop
  3. I Lost My Mind
  4. Garden of Serenity
  5. I Believe in Miracles
  6. Pet Sematary
  7. Punishment Fits the Crime
  8. Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
  9. Main Man
  10. Strength to Endure
  11. Poison Heart
  12. I Won't Let It Happen
  13. Censorshit
  14. Journey to the Center of the Mind
  15. 7 and 7 Is
  16. When I Was Young
  17. I Don't Wanna Grow Up
  18. Scattergun
  19. Makin Monsters for My Friends
  20. The Crusher
  21. Spiderman
  22. Life's a Gas
  23. She Talks to Rainbows
  24. Any Way You Want It
  25. R.A.M.O.N.E.S.

Disc 4

  1. Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?
  2. Rock 'N' Roll High School
  3. We Want the Airwaves
  4. Psycho Therapy
  5. Time Has Come Today
  6. Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)
  7. Something to Believe In
  8. I Wanna Live
  9. I Wanna Be Sedated
  10. Pet Sematary
  11. Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
  12. I Believe in Miracles
  13. Strength to Endure
  14. Poison Heart
  15. Substitute
  16. I Don't Wanna Grow Up
  17. Blitzkrieg Bop
  18. [Untitled Track]

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ramones   Primary Artist
Graham Gouldman   Background Vocals
Rodney Bingenheimer   Hand Clapping
Benmont Tench   Keyboards
Russell Mael   Background Vocals
Joey Ramone   Vocals,Group Member
Dee Dee Ramone   Bass,Group Member
Johnny Ramone   Guitar,Group Member
Marky Ramone   Drums,Group Member
Tommy Ramone   Drums,Group Member
Ian Wilson   Background Vocals
Richie Ramone   Drums,Group Member
C.J. Ramone   Bass,Group Member
Harvey Robert Kubernick   Hand Clapping
Dick Emerson   Keyboards

Technical Credits

Ted Nugent   Composer
Ramones   Composer
Pete Townshend   Composer
Tom Waits   Composer
Bill Laswell   Producer
John Weider   Composer
Graham Gouldman   Producer
Jack Nitzsche   Composer
Craig Leon   Producer
Phil Spector   Producer
Eric Burdon   Composer
Jean Beauvoir   Composer,Producer
Tony Bongiovi   Producer
Sonny Bono   Composer
Kathleen Brennan   Composer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Ian Bryan   Engineer
Ritchie Cordell   Producer
Thomas Erdelyi   Composer,Producer
Steve Farmer   Composer
Bryce Goggin   Engineer
Harvey Goldberg   Engineer
Paul Hamingson   Engineer
Bill Inglot   Producer
Barry Jenkins   Composer
Judy Kirschner   Engineer
Glen Kolotkin   Producer
Arthur Lee   Composer
Larry Levine   Engineer
Robert Musso   Engineer
Joey Ramone   Composer
Dee Dee Ramone   Composer
Johnny Ramone   Composer
Tommy Ramone   Composer
Daniel Rey   Composer,Producer
Andy Shernoff   Composer
Joel Soiffer   Remixing
Ed Stasium   Producer,Engineer
Richie Stotts   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Carl White   Composer
Jeff White   Producer
Keith Bessey   Engineer
Joseph Chambers   Composer
Jorge Esteban   Engineer
Scott Hackwith   Producer
Boris Menart   Engineer
Richie Ramone   Composer
Chris Nagle   Engineer
C.J. Ramone   Composer
Phil Campbell   Composer
William Stout   Cover Art
Philip Taylor   Composer
Trent Slatton   Engineer
Steve Vance   Cover Art
Maureen Nappi   Director
John Pound   Artwork
Michael Burston   Composer
Sheryl Farber   Art Direction
Alfred Frazier   Composer
Turner Wilson   Composer
Jim Woodring   Cover Art
Rob Freeman   Engineer
George Seminara   Director
Mark Robinson   Director
Daniel McCulloch   Composer
Sophia T. Fields   Producer
Bryan Domyan   Director
Valerie Faris   Director
Samuel Bayer   Director
Bill Frischman   Director
Kirk Heflin   Director
Craig Leibner   Director
Preachman   Director

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Weird Tales of the Ramones 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great item. A bit pricy, but a must for all die-hard Ramones fans.