On this day in 1976, the music industry was sucker-punched by a grimy-looking pack of misfits from Queens, New York. Punk rock pioneers the Ramones released their debut, self-titled album through Sire Records and forever cemented a place for rapid, bizarre, distorted and feverishly catchy pop songs in modern culture.
Bands like the Velvet Underground and The Stooges had pushed the envelope with taboo themes in their art rock approaches in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but The Ramones presented a whole new take on “punk rock.”
What seemed like a collection of joke songs to many, the album The Ramones quickly gained notoriety among New York’s underground music and art fans but wasn’t commercially successful. Along with the short-and-fast template for each song, the lyrics weren’t exactly what arena rockers in the 1970s were singing about: male prostitution, beating up rich snobs and Nazism. The album’s first single, (and arguably the most well-known Ramones song) “Blitzkrieg Bop,” got its origins from a German World War II tactic nicknamed “lightning war” and features the band shouting out a war-like chant “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!”
According to the 2003 documentary End of the Century, the album, recorded on a four-track, was made in a week for a little more than $6,000. By comparison, the Fleetwood Mac Album Rumors (which was released the following year) cost nearly $1 million to make.
Today, one could argue the debut album from the punk quartet is one of the most inspiring albums of all-time — especially for the highly-successful bands you hear on FM radio (Green Day, Weezer, Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chili Peppers).
-Chris Coyle, KZOK Seattle