Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Jabronis Change The Dial!
1. No band will ever be as good as the Ramones, and even the best of their imitators must bow down and acknowledge that they are unworthy.
2. When paying tribute to the Ramones, it is only acceptable to draw from the first four albums (or just the first three if you're orthodox Ramones-core).
Portland, Oregon's Jabronis are one of the few existing Ramones-core bands I find interesting enough to write about. I especially appreciate the band's blatant disregard for Ramones-core Rule #2 (it goes without saying that they adhere strictly to Rule #1). On their 2013 album Hit The Road, Jabronis definitely hinted at an interest in the more pop-oriented side of the Ramones. And on their new album Change The Dial, they've done what no other Ramones-core band has ever tried before: to draw very specifically from the early '80s Ramones albums. Drummer G.G. Jabroni describes the album as "an attempt to make a stripped down End Of The Century and a harder edged Pleasant Dreams, smashing them together and harkening back to the first three Ramones albums at the same time". I think this is a super cool concept for a Ramones-core album, and it makes total sense. After all, what Ramones fan hasn't wondered how much better End of the Century would have been if it had been produced more like the first four albums? Don't most of us believe that Pleasant Dreams could have been a great Ramones album if Joey and Johnny hadn't been at odds? And considering that even the Ramones' lesser albums are better than 99.9 percent of all records ever made, Jabronis' fondness for End of the Century and Pleasant Dreams is 100 percent sincere.
Supplemented nicely by textbook Ramones-core blasters like "Shark Bait Baby" and "I'm A Schizo", Jabronis' attempts to channel the '60s pop obsessions of early '80s Ramones are genuinely successful on Change The Dial. The terrific "Nothing I Won't Do" sounds largely inspired by "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?", while "I Don't Want To Want You Anymore" suggests a toughened-up Pleasant Dreams. "Maybe Tomorrow (She's Mine)" reminds us that Phil Spector was far more important to the Ramones as an influence than he ever could have been as a producer. And "Just In Case The Sun Don't Shine (Tonight)" brings to mind the kind of pure pop song that Joey Ramone had always had a knack for writing.
Ultimately Change The Dial is exactly what Jabronis intended it to be. It takes the influences behind End of the Century and Pleasant Dreams and brings them more in line with the spirit of the Ramones' earlier albums. By no means are Jabronis trying to "out-do" early '80s Ramones. But at the very least, they have great fun getting us to think "What if?". I'm already looking forward to Jabronis' next album - which will be 100 percent influenced by later (mid '80s to mid '90s) Ramones!