Classic Albums: Ramones Mania (This One’s For Michael)

This episode of Classic Albums is a very special one for me, and hopefully for some of you as well. I’ll get to why that is a bit later, but today I thought we’d have a look at a record that I spent the entire summer of 1988 blasting from my Fisher rack system, Ramones Mania. By now THE RAMONES need no introduction, do they? They are far and away the best punk band I’ve ever encountered, and their live show was insane (although short). They didn’t fuck around with a lot of onstage banter. Usually you just heard Dee Dee Ramone yell, “1,2,3,4!!” to launch right into the next song. One early critic famously stated, “I would have gotten up and left, but it was over before I could!’

When I was first getting into Heavy Metal I really had no time for punk or anything like it. In order to impress me your singer had to have a high voice, and that was pretty much my niche. It wasn’t until a friend of mine named Matt Barnes brought over Ramones Mania and basically forced me to listen that I finally “got it.” And for those of you who know me a long time, when I really get into a band, or album, I go through a phase where I pretty much listen to them and almost nothing else for days, week, months, sometimes longer. Here was an album with 30 classic tunes, and it clocked in at just over an hour. The tunes were fun and catchy, hard yet melodic. Joey Ramone’s voice blends perfectly with Johnny Ramone’s guitars.

Since I didn’t get a job till late August I woke up every morning when I damn well pleased, and fired up this CD first thing. I would do nothing else till I finished the whole record. Then, and only then would I get out of bed. There is nothing like starting your day off with the triple threat of “I Wanna Be Sedated”, “Teenage Lobotomy”, and “Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?” Of course a copy was dubbed onto a Maxell XL-II 90 for Walkman purposes, what is this my first day? Other songs from the first half  that always made me smile include “Beat On the Brat”, “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”, “Blitzkrieg Bop”, “Rockaway Beach”, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” (which found its way onto many a love song mixtape) and “Bop Til You Drop.”

As I got further in, I was mesmerized by songs like “We’re a Happy Family”, the politically charged “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg”, and my all-time favorite track “Outsider.” I know many of you have felt just like the title says, but know that you are never alone, and that you are loved. Joey’s voice on this one always hits me right in my heart ever since that rainy Tuesday night I first heard it. Another one on the more melodic side, and another one I have to repeat several times is “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La).” Man, I could listen to that “Sha-La-la-la-laaa” chorus all night long. And who doesn’t love “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” right? First time I heard this I was all, “What the FUCK??”, but there’s no denying it’s a great song.

My memories of being 15 and blasting this record in the summer of ‘88 with my buddies while we went out looking for mischief and trying awkwardly to hook up with girls is one reason this will forever be a Classic Album. But honestly, all that pales in comparison to what I am about to say next. On March 25 I received the tragic news that a beloved member of our Metal Family, Michael Dodson Jr. died that morning at the far too young age of 19. THE RAMONES were one of his favorite bands alongside TYPE O NEGATIVE. His love of these great bands is proof positive that great music transcends time and generations.

Michael, you will be remembered fondly by everyone who had the honor of knowing you as a beautiful boy, a wonderful and kindhearted person, and a smashing young man. You experienced music with such a pure, unbridled joy, and it was always a pleasure running into you at shows. You’d smile and say, “Have you seen my Dad?” when we both knew your dad Mykel was in the pit wrecking shop and we’d laugh. And I know that Mykel, your mom Sheri, and sister Layla will keep you in their hearts forever, as will I. Rest In Peace, Michael. This Classic Albums is for you. Your smile will be missed by all of us…   ~dc

In Loving Memory of Michael William Dodson, Jr. (March 14, 2000 – March 25, 2019)

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