Say It's your Birthday: Joey Ramone and Matthew Kaufman

Today is the birthday of Joey Ramone, the lead singer of the Ramones,

as well as an ATN contributing editor. With their militaristic shout

of "1-2-3-4" the Ramones declared that rock and roll had become too

fatuous, ostentatious, embarrassingly prissy and way too serious.

According to All Music Guide they cranked up the volume, took

out the stuffing, and let it be known that henceforth endless solos,

pseudo-poetry, and concept albums were being relegated to the

dust-bin, to be mocked and scorned as digressions. This quartet from

Queens, NY was reminding those who had strayed that simple is often

best, and that the first rockers had the right idea. The Ramones

stripped it back to the basics, a few chords, a manic tempo, and

before you know it they were being simultaneously blamed and

congratulated for inventing something called punk rock. Ira Robbins

once said that "with just four chords and one manic tempo, the Ramones

blasted open the clogged arteries of mid-'70s rock, re-animating the

music. Their genius was to recapture the short/simple aesthetic from

which pop had strayed, adding their own caustic sense of trash

culture, humor and minimalist rhythm guitar sound." The result not

only spearheaded the original new wave/punk movement, but also drew

the blueprint for subsequent hard-core punk bands. Twenty years and

nineteen albums later, the Ramones are still at the top of their game,

serving up their anxious minimalism and sense of rollicking abandon.

On their forthcoming album, Adios Amigos, they are trying out

some uncharted terrain with songs like the compelling "She Talks To

Rainbows," as well as further chronicling the escapades of the Cretins

from "Cretin Hop" off of Rocket To Russia with "The Cretin

Family."

It is also the birthday of Matthew Kaufman, founder and

"reining loony" of Beserkley Records, and currently president of Son

of Beserkley. Kaufman produced of all the early (and best) Jonathan

Richman and The Modern Lovers albums, including the highly influential

song "Roadrunner." Happy birthday to Peter Townshend, Grace Jones,

Dusty Hill (Z.Z.Top), Philip Rudd (AC/DC), Eddie Raynor (Split Enz),

and Malcolm X.