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Weird Al Yankovic covers “Beat On The Brat” by The Ramones

Here’s something cool I didn’t think I’d be writing about today.  You can now listen to the wonderful Weird Al Yankovic’s version of The Ramones classic song “Beat On The Brat.”  The song comes from the upcoming compilation album Dr. Demento Covered In Punk, and unlike most of Yankovic’s other songs, this one is not a parody but a straight up cover.  And it’s a really, really good cover at that.  Check it out below!



DS Exclusive: Phil Marcade (The Senders) on The Ramones, Nancy Spungen and the cast of characters on “Punk Avenue”

 

If we were running down a list of the most famous, and infamous, figures from the epicenter of the fledgling punk rock scene in New York City’s Lower East Side in the mid-1970’s, we’d have to scroll pretty deep into the annals to find the name Phillipe Marcade. Marcade fronted the high-energy blues punk band The Senders that were staples at such legendary venues as CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City for the bulk of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and yet neither the man nor the band really got the credit that they deserved outside a twelve-block radius.

Yet Marcade was every bit as entrenched in the 1970s Lower East Side as any of the Ramones or Debbie Harry or Johnny Thunders or Legs McNeil or any of the others whose names come more easily to mind. In fact, to hear one-and-only McNeil tell it in the Foreward to Marcade’s brand-new book, Punk Avenue: Inside The New York City Underground 1972 – 1982, Marcade, “while not a household name, was friends with everyone at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, and a bona fide member, in good-standing of the New York Punk Rock Scene.”

We caught up with Marcade over the phone from his home in Italy to discuss Punk Avenue and the early NYC punk scene in more detail. Still the purveyor of a heavy Parisian accent, Marcade is equal parts humble and engaging. That he ended up with this particular story to tell is the result of a series of profoundly fascinating circumstances. A native of France, Marcade took a trip to Amsterdam as a teenager that led to a chance encounter with a American traveler named Bruce, which, in turn, eventually resulted in Marcade spending several decades in the Lower East Side, but not before stopovers in Boston, a longer stay in Amsterdam, a hog farm in New Mexico, and…his eighteenth birthday “party” in a Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Arizona. It seems that even in the 1970s, the feds frowned on shipping large quantities of straight hash across state lines…

Marcade might have ended up in the gritty, tough-as-nails Lower East Side in the early 1970s by happy accident, and yet that’s not an entirely bad way to describe the foundation of the scene itself. Given the transient, underground nature of the close-knit, artistic community that found itself magnetically pulled to that neighborhood at that time, it’s not a stretch to say that punk music as we came to know and love it would not — could not — have started anywhere else and come out the same. The thing about living and thriving in the geographical center of a once-in-a-generation social and cultural and artistic movement is that you don’t realize you’re there until you’re gone and the moment has passed. That’s especially true when you’re viewing said geographic center from the wide eyes of an outsider. “I thought it was so magical and exciting,” says Marcade, quickly adding on that he “thought that was probably because I was new in New York, and to everybody else I thought it had always been like that. Only years later did I realize that no, that was a true revolution going on at the time!

While perhaps unaware of the importance of the movement that he was a direct witness to at the time, Marcade did, at least, recognize sheer talent when he saw it. “I think that the first very important band of the movement, without being in the movement really, was Dr. Feelgood in England. They really changed things around.” Once the music moved toward this side of the pond, the cream quickly rose to the top. Says Marcade: “The Ramones and the Heartbreakers and The Cramps were just amazing groups. I’m so glad I got to see them.” And see them, he did. Especially The Ramones, whom he estimates he saw roughly “a hundred times.” When asked of his insider’s perspective on whether or not Ramones were, indeed, worthy of what’s become iconic, almost mythological status, Marcade answers an emphatic yes. “They were just amazing! They were so good. I never went to a Ramones show and left thinking “eh, that wasn’t that great.” They never ceased to amaze me!”

On the other hand, perhaps not as worthy of her iconic, mythologized status was Nancy Spungen. Marcade knew knew Spungen prior to, and in fact had a hand in encouraging, her fateful 1976 move to London. “I always thought Nancy was kind of a sad soul, a lonely girl,” says Marcade with a hint of sadness present in his voice for the first time in our conversation. “Everybody was so fucking mean to her,” a fact that led to her leaving her heroin-addicted cat (“Oh, that fucking cat!”) with Marcade and heading to London, where she’d eventually, infamously, cross stars with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious. “I think a lot of people misjudged her because of the way she carried herself, and because of the whole heroin thing. But knowing her before, she was a sweet girl. She was as much a victim as Sid. She was not that “evil woman” that turned poor Sid Vicious on to drugs… I don’t subscribe to that theory!”

There are no shortage of memorable characters and stories and moments peppered throughout Punk Avenue. Truth be told, the four-page glossary of supporting characters is almost overwhelming (and would probably better serve the reader if it appeared as a reference index to refer back to). That Marcade can recall such a large volume of names and faces and coincidences is no small feat in and of itself. “It’s funny,” says Marcade, “because I seem to have a very, very good visual memory, and when I think back to an anecdote like that, I can really remember it well.” As the project neared completion, he fact-checked and cross-referenced some of the stories and their corresponding dates with some of his surviving companions, though most stories required only little tweaks.

Yet the real noteworthy feat is not simply remembering stories, but weaving them together in a way that is fun and funny and sad and personal and gripping, whether you’re a fan of early the early NYC punk scene or not. Marcade not only does exactly that in expert fashion with Punk Avenue, but he does it in a language that’s not his first. It is perhaps that wide-eyed outsider’s perspective that keeps everything fresh and exciting and new and real to the reader, especially when the stories involve such Herculean figures. Aside, maybe, from Please Kill Me, it’s hands-down the best read about the Who, What, When, Where, Why and, especially, the How of the origins of the punk rock scene as we know it. Punk Avenue is out now, and you can pick it up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Target but hopefully at an independent bookseller near you!

Head below to read the text of our full half-hour conversation with Marcade. Aside from what’s touched on above, we cover a lot of ground, including the changes (read as: gentrification) in the Lower East Side in the forty years since the dawn of punk civilization, which bands from the scene got unfortunately overlooked, and which more recent bands have carried the torch most surprisingly. The results may surprise you!



Punk Magazine 40th Anniversary Exhibition to open in NYC

We all heard about the god-awful CBGBs restaurant opening up at Newark Airport, but all hope is not lost. There are still cool, classic punk happenings emerging in the New York City area.

A Punk Magazine exhibition is due to open up at Howl! Happening: an Arturo Vega Project in the Lower East Side. The exhibition celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first issue of Punk Magazine, the cover of which featured Lou Reed and was illustrated by John Holmstrom, the magazine’s founding editor.

The exhibition will be up for two weeks only and will feature work by Holmstrom, as well as new work by fellow artists who contributed to Punk Magazine in the 1970s. Ken Weiner will be drawing “Ugly Portraits” during the show’s opening night on Thursday, January 14th.

Punk Magazine had an immense effect on the world of punk rock, both in music and fashion. It brought the punk movement out of the shadows and into the hands of the public, shining a light on youth culture, rebellion, and overall snottiness. Punk rock fans won’t want to miss this one-time-only exhibition!

Howl! Happening was born in memory and admiration of Arturo Vega, often regarded as the fifth Ramone who created the band’s legendary logo. Vega was a fine artist. He passed away in 2013.

The Punk Magazine 40th Anniversary Exhibition will run from January 14th through January 30th at Howl! Happening: an Arturo Vega Project. The gallery is located at 6 East 1st St. New York, NY 10003. The opening reception starts at 6PM. You can read more information about the exhibition and the gallery here.



10 things you probably didn’t know about the Ramones

There’s a pretty good chance you are at least familiar with the name the Ramones. They may be well-known as pioneers of the American punk rock scene, but how much do you really know about them? To help educate you we’ve put together a list of 10 things you might not have known about this iconic band. Expand your knowledge below.



Random Cover Song: Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers / Ramones – “Chinese Rocks”

Cover songs are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. We here at Dying Scene love hearing punk bands do their own take on other band’s songs. Sometimes they pull off amazing interpretations of old classics, sometimes they’re not much more than humble tributes to a fellow artist, and other times they’re just downright laughable renditions of otherwise great songs. Good or bad. Intriguing or mundane. We’ll let you be the judge.

Today’s song is “Chinese Rocks,” which has been performed by both Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers, and the Ramones. The song has a bit of a convoluted history: it was primarily written by Dee Dee Ramone with contributions from Richard Hell (something that both Ramone and Hell agreed upon), but when it was time to record the song the rest of the Ramones vetoed it so Dee Dee gave the song to Hell, who was then still a member of The Heartbreakers. Even after Hell left the group they continued to play it and recorded it for their debut (and only) studio album, 1977’s L.A.M.F., falsely crediting the song to Thunders and Heartbreakers drummer Jerry Nolan in addition to Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell (future pressings of the album would go on to credit the song to three of the Ramones, but not Hell).

The Ramones recorded their version for their 1980 album, End of the Century, with the title being changed to “Chinese Rock,” and a slight alteration in lyrics, removing Dee Dee’s name from the opening lines. You can listen to both versions of the song below, and read more about the song’s history here.



Marky Ramone shares excerpt from “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg”

Marky Ramone, known best through his stint as drummer for the Ramones, recently released a book discussing his time as a member of one of the most famous punk groups of all time. Titled Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As a Ramone, the book is now widely available. However, for those that would like a taste of the release before making a purchase, Marky has released an excerpt via Rolling Stone which describes his first personal encounter with End of the Century producer Phil Spector. Check it out here.



Morrissey to release Ramones Tribute

Remember in August how we told you about all those major Ramones’ events in the works in 2016? Well, we have a little bit more news and you won’t have to wait half as long for it happen!

As part of Record Store Day’s “Back To Black Friday” event on November 28th, Morrissey will release his “best of” tribute album. Most people will be either stoked or livid. I’m actually completely unsure how I feel about this right now. Either way, the vinyl “Morrissey Curates The Ramones” will be available just three weeks from now. Read below for more info on the release and the albums logo.

Record Store Day’s website notes the following:

“..This compilation reflects Morrissey’s experience of listening to the band for the first time. With the sad passing of Tommy recently, both management and Morrissey felt this was a fitting tribute. The use of the Union Jack on the cover reflects both how important the band were to the UK music scene but also how the UK embraced them and their sound.”

 



Major events (including Scorcese-led feature film) in the works for Ramones’ 40th anniversary

2016 is shaping up to be a pretty awesome year if you’re a Ramones fan…so, if you’re a Dying Scene reader.

Unless you flunked basic math, it’s no surprise that not only is 2016 a Presidential election year, it’s more importantly the 40th anniversary of the recording and subsequent release of the Ramones legendary self-titled debut album. To mark the momentous occasion, there’s a lot…and we mean a LOT…coming down the ‘pike.

First and no doubt foremost, the band will be the subject of an as-yet-untitled feature film that’s the brainchild of none other than Martin Scorsese. In addition to the mob-related movies that he’s perhaps best known for, Scorsese has also been at the helm of some legendary rock movies, including documentaries about The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and, of course, The Band.

In addition to the Scorsese film, a separate documentary covering the band’s first few years is in the works. It’s said to feature a bunch of footage filmed in the late 70s and early 80s by a gentleman named George Seminara, whose name you may recognize as producer of “End of the Century” and “Live In New York” video featuring Agnostic Front, Gorilla Biscuit and Sick Of It All that came out a few decades ago.

But wait…there’s more. Also slated for release in ’16 is a book that chronicles the band’s formative years, a theatrical play, and a lot of product placement. We know…we know…the last one has the potential for disaster. But otherwise, it’s shaping up to be a pretty cool, albeit nostalgic, year. Perhaps the best part of the story is that all of these projects are going forward because the heirs of the respective Ramones’ camps have finally made up and are, at last, a happy family. Read more about the projects here.



RIP: Tommy Ramone, last remaining original Ramone, dies at 65 (1949-2014)

Sad news out of the Ramones‘ camp in Queens this Saturday morning.

Thomas Erdelyi, better known to the world as Tommy Ramone, passed away late last night (7/11/14) at his home, where he had been receiving hospice care due to bile duct cancer. He was 65 years old.

The Hungarian-born Tommy Ramone began as the manager for the ground-breaking New York punk band, but quickly became the band’s drummer after Joey Ramone decided to become the band’s frontman and because, according to Dee Dee Ramone, “nobody else wanted to.” Tommy would appear on the band’s first three studio albums, Ramones (1976), Leave Home and Rocket To Russia (1977) and their first live album, It’s Alive (1979) before being replaced by Marky Ramone. He also served as producer on 1984’s Too Tough To Die.

Rest easy, Tommy. you’ll be missed.
**Editor’s note: This morning, we erroneously reported that Tommy was born in 1952. He was, in fact, born in 1949, making him 65 years old at the time of his death. Sorry for the goof.



The Ramones’ debut album goes gold 38 years after its release

According to multiple sources, The Ramones‘ iconic self-titled debut album was certified gold 38 years after its original release on April 30th, 2014, selling more than 500,000 copies.

Originally released on April 23rd, 1976, The Ramones is often credited as the first ever punk rock album, and received positive reviews by media outlets, such as NME and Creem magazine. Even though the album peaked at #111 on the Billboard chart, selling only 6,000 copies in its first year, it has come to be regarded as one of the most influential rock albums ever made, frequently appearing in “greatest ever” lists in magazines.



Random Cover Song: Ramones – “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” (Motörhead)

Cover songs are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. We here at Dying Scene love hearing punk bands do their own take on other band’s songs. Sometimes they pull off amazing interpretations of old classics, sometimes they’re not much more than humble tributes to a fellow artist, and other times they’re just downright laughable renditions of otherwise great songs. Good or bad. Intriguing or mundane. We’ll let you be the judge.

If Joey Ramone hadn’t died 13 years ago, today would have been his 63rd birthday. To celebrate the occasion, our random cover version comes from the Ramones, who performed a cover version of Motörhead‘s “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”, which is dedicated to the iconic punk rock band. The original is taken from Motörhead’s 1991 album 1916, while the Ramones’ cover version appears on the Japanese edition of their 1995 final album ¡Adios Amigos!. You can listen to both versions of “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” below.



Blast From the Past: Ramones full set – Paris, France (Feb. 21,1980)

It’s a slow news day so here’s a little lesson in punk history for you youngsters (and not-so-youngsters) out there.  It’s a well shot video of an entire Ramones set filmed in Paris, France on February, 21st, 1980.

Enjoy!



10 things you probably didn’t know about Joey Ramone

Just about everybody in the punk scene knows who Joey Ramone was. A lot of you probably even know he was the lead singer for the iconic punk rock band The Ramones, who released 14 albums and played 2,263 concerts during their 22-year existence. Joey lost his life to lymphoma at the age of 49 but his legend lives on and we’d like to celebrate it by sharing with you 10 things you probably didn’t know about this punk rock icon.

Expand your knowledge below.



Random Cover Song: Ramones – “Surfin’ Bird” (The Trashmen)

Cover songs are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. We here at Dying Scene love hearing punk bands do their own take on other band’s songs. Sometimes they pull off amazing interpretations of old classics, sometimes they’re not much more than humble tributes to a fellow artist, and other times they’re just downright laughable renditions of otherwise great songs. Good or bad. Intriguing or mundane. We’ll let you be the judge.

Today’s cover comes from punk pioneers Ramones, who covered the surf rock classic “Surfin’ Bird”, originally performed by The Trashmen. The original is taken from The Trashmen’s 1963 debut album Surfin’ Bird, while the Ramones’ version appears on their classic 1977 album Rocket to Russia.

You can listen to both versions of “Surfin’ Bird” below.



Bruce Springsteen covers the Ramones’ “Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?”

New Jersey legend Bruce Springsteen, with help from Jesse Malin, covered the Ramones this past weekend at the Light of Day benefit show in Asbury Park, NJ. You can check out the video of their version of “Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?” below.