This week’s Sunday Sermon is the second one in a row inspired by my incidental daily wanderings around Berlin, although the link to the city is rather more tenuous with today’s entry. Today I visited the one and only Ramones Museum in the world, tucked away in its own little juxtaposition in the corner of Mitte, full of memorabilia, signed knickknacks and, unlike most museums, blasting punk rock out of the stereos.
It’s hard to underestimate the impact the Ramones had on music in the late 20th century. After forming in New York in 1974 they went on to become mainstays and forebears of the legendary CBGBs scene and, as their popularity spread around the globe, began to influence punk rockers from all corners. This lead to many imitators and many divergent strands of the genre. Californian punk (such as Dead Kennedys & Black Flag) and British punk (such as the Clash or the Undertones) all owe something to the Ramones and their influence continues today into heavy metal, Green Day & contemporaries and the NME-dubbed New Rock Revolution of the early 2000s.
Basically: Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy changed everything.
It was that perfect blend of punk rock aesthetics (the ubiquitous leather jackets, jeans and sneakers) that gave them something fresh and vibrant but just as importantly it was underpinned by their innate ability to write, what were at their heart, catchy and classic American pop songs. The Ramones were never the finest musicians but they understood how to write a four chord song that captured the spirit and energy of the band and the proximate zeitgeist.
Any of their first three studio albums would’ve been a worth addition to the Sunday Sermons archive but instead we’re going with It’s Alive, a 2-disc live recording of the infamous London concert on December 31st in 1977. One of the best live recordings of all time of one of the few bands that summed up an era and created another.