JOEY RAMONE – …Ya Heard? (BMG)
Every Ramones fan will cringe as they listen to mainstream-friendly opening riff of “Rock ‘N Roll is the Answer,” the opening track to Joey Ramone’s second posthumous album. But once their snobbishness passes, there are a lot of reasons to listen to these unfinished tracks out of the vault.
At first, the album sounds a little bit like an over-produced Ramones album. It has the same chord structures, but with louder, heavy guitars and cleaner sound recording. Most of the time, when it’s not drifting into mediocre modern rock territory, that does have a lot of appeal to it. Plus it’s just refreshing to hear Joey again.
But it’s a set of tracks that break formula that make …Ya Know? worthwhile. “Waiting For The Railroad” is a slow, mournful ballad. “What Did I Do To Deserve You?” is bright and almost indie with its happy hand claps. “I Couldn’t Sleep” comes in as the most in tune with the “classic” Ramones sound, but in a way that sounds like Joey is paying homage to himself.
That’s really what …Ya Know? has to offer: the familiarity and charm of Joey’s voice with small but effective touches of other influences that he never got the chance to explore with the Ramones. If you want the Ramones, pick up Rocket to Russia. If you want that voice in new context, …Ya Know? is a respectful, doting and caring homage.