Album: Subterranean Jungle
. . .
In between the July 1981 release of Pleasant Dreams and the February, 1983 release of Subterranean Jungle, I got to see the Ramones in concert for the first time.
Sadly, it wasn’t at a small, sweaty club, but rather a massive, sweaty outdoor venue: the first US Festival on September 3, 1982. The Ramones were part of the quote-unqote New Wave day, sharing the stage with a bunch of other great bands including Gang of Four, English Beat, The B-52s, The Police and The Talking Heads, the last of which put on . . . well, I’ll get to that in a couple of years.
In any event, it was a pretty great day, and they cranked out their usual two dozen songs, wearing their leather jackets — well not Marky, who was in a tank top — while temperatures topped 100 degrees because they were the fucking Ramones. In retrospect, they were already reinventing themselves as glory days greatest hits machine, as a glance at the setlist shows that they only played four songs from Pleasant Dreams, focusing the set on the first four albums.
That said, a few weeks later, they were able to go into the studio and crank out what I think is their best album of the 1980s, Subterranean Jungle, a deliberate call-back to those first four records. Subterranean Jungle gets a bad rap because they made the dodgy choice to start it with two covers, and then stick a cover of “Time Has Come Today” on the second side.
But forget all of that, because Subterranean Jungle features a great string of Dee Dee songs — “Outsider,” “In The Park,” “Highest Trails Above” and today’s entry, “Somebody Like Me” — that are everything you want in a Ramones song: big guitars, catchy melodies, smart words and a fully engaged Joey.
I’m just a guy who likes to rock and roll
I’m just a guy who likes to get drunk
I’m just a guy who likes to dress punk
Get my kicks an’ live up my life
Why is this song different from all other Ramones songs?
There’s some great call-and-response between Dee Dee and Joey, some cool drony guitar — and a Chuck Berry-ish guitar solo — and in general, it’s just a great, fun song. OK, that’s the entire point of the Ramones, I know. After the relative dourness and experimentation — some of it pretty successful, some of it not — of both End of The Century, it was kind of awesome for the Ramones to do straight-up punk-pop again.
“Somebody Like Me”
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