The Ramones found themselves together in answer to the stale atmosphere of rock 'n' roll as the 70s drew to a close. The best that was offered was dance infused and radio friendly songs pandering to the age of disco. In England, the Sex Pistols provided a shot in the arm for music despite all of their posturing and unfriendly antics. The Ramones did the same on American soil and in the fertile lands of NYC and CBGBs and other friendly club locations.
I remember walking the street of Columbus, OH and hearing the strains of The Ramones filtering out of a local record storefront and being amazed the short, strong tunes that were popping out at a rapid clip. There was "Beat on the Brat" and "Blitzkrieg Bop." There was "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" and "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." And there was change. 4 blue-jeaned lads all named Ramone and all completely unaware that their brand of music would inextricably change the world by their simple approach, maniacal delivery, and their fun-as-hell lyrics.
Rhino has put together the complete story of The Ramones in a wonderful film that looks back at the early days of The Ramones and follows them through to their end, aptly titling the DVD End of the Century: The Story of The Ramones.
The film wanders the streets with each member, recalling the days leading up to the formation of the band and taps into neighbour memories of the personalities. It's quite interesting to hear that Joey was quite the shy one and yet his delivery fueled the world of punk. It is equally interesting that Johnny would be "the bad one" and yet remain consistent with the band after his revelation that it was this or nothing.
The film provides stark views of the band as they moved through their own turbulence especially after the 80s brought infighting and mate changes. There were the inevitable tussles over Tee-Shirts sales money and the like which eventually culminated in the death of 3 of the core components of the band, the first being the unlikeliest of them all with Joey's death by cancer at age 49. Fortunately, most survived long enough to enjoy the induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Raw, revealing, and, in many instances, disturbing, End of the Century tells the story "accurately" as Johnny Ramone would peg it, of a band and it's trip through Rock's defining moments and into history as one of Rock's most revered elements survived by only one original member who quit early enough to preserve life.
The DVD runs some 150 minutes, and contains a spectacular blend of edits that together tell the story, not only of The Ramones and of their climb and demise, but also the story of a moment in Rock that is a lit candle to the history of music. There are special features that contain deleted scenes such as Blondie's Clem Burke, who attempted life as a Ramone (Elvis Ramone), Marky Ramone's drum techniques, Joey Ramone's radio interview as he tells of a Springsteen penned song, "Hungry Heart", that was given to the Ramones by The Boss only to have Springsteen record it and turn it into a hit. Joey reminds Bruce (over the air) that they were still owed a song. There are other interview excerpts by other people such as Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, as well as others.
The DVD is presented in standard full screen and delivered in Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.
End of The Century is an essential look into the life and times of The Ramones. But most importantly, it is a view of an important band and their unintentional entry and promotion of rock. Don't miss it.