Three years after the Ramones — the first, best and most enduring punk band in the world — called it quits, DeeDee and Marky Ramone (the band’s longest running rhythm section) plus DeeDee’s wife, Barbara, are keeping the band’s spirit and repertoire alive. In front of a Father’s Day audience, the trio brought the Hollywood room all the way back to the halcyon days of CBGB, circa 1976.
Despite two excellent solo discs in the ’90s from DeeDee and two solid efforts from Marky’s band, Marky Ramone and the Intruders, the three punk rockers stuck almost entirely to the Ramones’ first three discs for material. With only two new songs (“Hop Around” and “Rock and Roll Vacation in L.A.”) and two Johnny Thunders covers (“Born to Lose” and “It’s Not Enough”) filling out the set, it was odd not to hear any of DeeDee’s newer music, but the fanatical assembled cared not a whit — they were too busy pogo dancing and singing along.
Kicking off the set with “Rockaway Beach” (one of the only three Ramones songs to ever crack the Top 100), DeeDee Ramone was in fine voice and guitar. The Ramainz were pleasantly quiet and clear, playing at human heart speed, unlike the Ramones shows of the last 15 years, which tended toward ear-splitting volumes and blurry tempos. And unlike former Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone, DeeDee added little surf fills and blues riffs throughout the set.
With DeeDee and Barbara alternating vocals, the Ramainz were actually a lot more varied than the mother band: When Barbara sang “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” and “Havana Affair,” the band sounded more like Japanese rockers Shonen Knife than like the Ramones. At the lower volumes, the Buddy Holly/Eddie Cochran roots of the Ramones’ music was on prominent display in the hands of the Ramainz.
The Ramones themselves are about to be treated to a career retrospective, as Rhino will issue a 64-track boxed set titled “Hey Ho Let’s Go” in July.