I first discovered The Ramones when I was about 14. I was into all the bands you’d expect to be at that age; Metallica, Green Day, and they both mentioned The Ramones in interviews – and then my form tutor at school came into class one day singing Beat On The Brat. So, I went to HMV and bought a Ramones anthology for about 5 quid – nothing was ever the same again. Their look fascinated me, and their simplistic approach to writing songs completely blew my teenage mind. All of a sudden, I could write a song. All of a sudden, I could start a band. I remember listening to them for the first time, because I stayed up for most of the night listening to them on my CD walkman and reading the little booklet that came with the CD. This band – full of weird kids with bowl haircuts, just like me - totally changed my life.
10) Beat On The Brat (Ramones, 1976)
This was the first Ramones song I heard. It was so immediate, there was only one verse, and it instantly filled me with this sense of euphoria. I wanted to dance around, hug everyone and simultaneously punch walls. It spoke volumes to me as a snotty, disenfranchised teenager. There was only 4 notes in the whole song too, so despite my very limited ability I could play it on guitar.
9) I’m Against It (Road To Ruin, 1978)
‘I don’t like games and fun, I don’t like anyone’. One thing I love about the Ramones is the dark humour that comes across. I love the comical nihilism here – on the surface it’s just a nonsensical list of stuff you don’t like, but to me, it’s also a bit of a dig at how shitty humans can be, as well as how much you hate everything. The perfect song for a pessimistic misanthrope!
8) I Want You Around (Rock’n’Roll High School Movie, 1977)
As soon as I found out The Ramones had been in a movie I obviously had to watch it. It was terrible, but I think that just made me love it even more. In the scene that features this song, Riff (PJ Soles’ main character) sits on her bed and puts Road To Ruin on (which is odd, because the song isn’t on that album), and Joey and Johnny just appear, playing it. Oh, and then she’s miraculously in her underwear, just because. But aside from the comedy of the video, I love the romance of this song. It’s something The Ramones always did so well.
7) Strength To Endure (Mondo Bizarro, 1992)
I think CJ was really underrated as a vocalist. Obviously, whoever was going to try and replace Dee Dee was always going to come up short. He was a real life cartoon character. It was so odd to me that Dee Dee carried on writing songs for the band even though he wasn’t in it any more, but the songs were still great so I guess no one could argue. This is just a great punk rock song – it’s the one I’m always singing for hours after I listen to this album.
6) All Is Quiet On The Eastern Front (Pleasant Dreams, 1981)
I love the swagger on this song. I know that the first five Ramones records are considered the “classics”, but this one is just as great in my opinion. I love the call and response vocals from Joey and Dee Dee, and it never fails to cheer me up. The Ramones have songs for every mood imaginable and this is the perfect representation of that.
5) Pinhead (Leave Home, 1977)
First of all, it always blows my mind that they released two albums in the space of a year and made them as good as Leave Home and Rocket To Russia are. As for this song, it’s an outsiders anthem. ‘Gabba Gabba, we accept you, we accept you, one of us’ and the ‘DUMB, everyone’s accusing me’ are both such great acceptance shouts, but also a massive “fuck you” to everyone that writes you off. I also always laugh at the spoken stuff at the end.
4) Locket Love (Rocket To Russia, 1977)
When I’m forced to, I tell people that Rocket To Russia is my favourite record. Obviously I can’t really choose, but it probably is. And it’s because of songs like this. It’s a pop song, far more reminiscent of the Beach Boys than what you think of when you talk about “punk”. The chorus is a masterclass in hooks, and this song (as well as the rest of this album) will always be what “punk” is to me.
3) Poison Heart (Mondo Bizarro, 1992)
Here’s where it gets really convoluted. Any of these last three could be number 1. This song always gives me goosebumps. I love the intro guitar parts. The simple refrain in the chorus is just fucking beautiful too, and the whole song takes on this wonderfully vulnerable identity. It’s another one that Dee Dee wrote after leaving the band with Daniel Rey, and it’s just such a brilliant song.
2) Love Kills (Animal Boy, 1986)
Dee Dee is such a sketchy vocalist, but that almost added to his charm. It’s such a self-aware account of his friends Sid and Nancy, and I don’t think it really glamourises them at all, which is a difficult balance to strike – ‘When you’re hooked on heroin, don’t you know you’ll never win?’ is hardly making it sound like an attractive option! This song always reminds me of the end of (Ramones documentary) End Of The Century, where Dee Dee walks away from the camera, and it stays on him until he turns the corner of the corridor, and then a graphic comes up saying he died soon after of a heroin overdose. Gets me every fucking time.
1) Sheena Is A Punk Rocker (Rocket To Russia, 1977)
I couldn’t not pick this song as number 1. Honestly, this is the quintessential Ramones song to me – far more so than Blitzkrieg Bop or I Wanna Be Sedated. It’s another surf song, and it’s just great. My favourite Ramones LP is It’s Alive, recorded live at The Roundhouse in 1977, and this is such a highlight from that. In my humble opinion it’s one of the greatest songs of all time.
Miss Vincent’s new EP Somewhere Else is available now via Uncle M Music. Check out their Ramones-inspired video for Cold Hands below
Catch them on tour with Energy at the dates below:
Jul 29: Satans Hollow, Manchester, UK
Jul 30: Arts Club, Liverpool, UK
Jul 31: Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, UK
Aug 01 : Audio, Glasgow, UK
Aug 02: Jumping Jacks, Newcastle, UK
Aug 04: Key Club, Leeds, UK
Aug 05: The Maze, Nottingham, UK
Aug 06 : Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes, UK
Aug 07: The Anvil, Bournemouth, UK
Aug 08: The Booking Hall, Dover, UK
Aug 09: O2 Islington2, London, UK