Greatest Hits isn’t the most accurate title for a Ramones compilation, as to my knowledge; the Ramones never had a hit single or record. 1980’s End of the Century did crack the Top 20 (#14) in the UK (and #44 in the US), but I believe that’s it. Regardless, the Ramones’ third single disc compilation is probably their best.
Clocking in at 53 minutes and 20 tracks, it’s certainly the leanest compilation, which is why it’s such a great listen. It highlights their prime years (1976-1980) and severely downplays the 80’s, and bypasses all of the 90’s. So these 20 tracks are pure, classic Ramones. Everything from “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” to “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” and “I Just Want to Have Something to Do”.
Their simple, but brilliant attack of bubblegum pop melodies and buzz saw guitars still hold up today. Songs like “The KKK Took My Baby Away” and “Rockaway Beach” still rock hard, loud and fast, without sounding dated.
The only curiosity here is their cover of The Ronettes’ “Baby, I Love You” from 1980’s End of the Century. Sounding very un-Ramones-like, it’s full of Phil Spector’s strings, however it works like a charm; it is a marvelous cover. I think its inclusion is due to the fact that it is their highest charting single (#8 in the UK).
More organized than 1988’s Ramones Mania and more concise than 2002’s Loud, Fast Ramones, Greatest Hits is a great introduction to one of the greatest bands of the last 30 years.