Ramones

Jim Bessman, Author
Jim Bessman, Author St. Martin's Griffin $18.95 (202p) ISBN 978-0-312-09369-3
Reviewed on: 05/17/1993
Release date: 05/01/1993
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Music journalist Bessman's closeness to his subject--he is a good friend of the members of the Ramones--has both positive and negative effects on his authorized history of this seminal American band, famous for knowing only three chords and for playing everything as fast as possible. Bessman has great access to details such as the Ramones's mistrust of the Talking Heads--``a bunch of intellectuals''--with whom they toured Europe. But it also means that he sometimes misses the ironies and inconsistencies in their behavior, like the fact that members of a band whose lyrics include the infamous line ``Well I'm a Nazi, schatzi, you know, I fight for the fatherland'' claimed that their work had no political content. The ``four guys from Queens'' who formed the original group in 1974 seem to have been truly without pretensions, which makes Bessman's overheated interpretation of their achingly simple lyrics just silly. Bessman's theory is that the Ramones were always poised on the brink of stardom but missed out due to the mistakes of others, i.e., the release of one of their best-known songs, Rockaway Beach , during the winter and the poor distribution of their only film, Rock 'n' Roll High School. Photos. (May)
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