Still Rocking with Joey Ramone, “Ya know?”

Summer is just around the corner. Along with the change in seasons comes new music to be played at the beach or during a barbecue. While this album cannot be categorized as beach music, it is still one of the most my most anticipated albums of this summer, even though the artist will not be doing any summer concerts anytime soon; unless he rises from the dead (which would be pretty cool).

Joey Ramone’s “Ya know?” is the second posthumous album released from the former singer for The Ramones. The album features previously unreleased tracks and demos that Ramone recorded in the last 15 years of his life. The album sounds like classic Ramones; concise, clean, and simplistic pop hooks that immediately stick in the brain. This album features some great songs that you actually want to get stuck in your head.

“Ya know?” is being released in large part due to Ramone’s brother, Mickey Leigh, who told The L.A. Times that fans have been messaging him for the past 8 years asking about this album. The record features contributions from well-known artists like Joan Jett and The E-Street band’s Steve Van Zandt.

The first track, “Rock ‘N Roll is the answer,” is the party anthem that never had the chance to rock, until now. This song ranks up there with classic Ramones songs such as “I wanna be sedated” and “Blitzkreig Bop.” What I always loved about Joey Ramone was his ability to have fun with his music. While this track is nothing profound, the bridge sums it up by stating, “You can’t break the spirit…”

“New York City” is a loving tribute to the city Joey Ramone said he was “proud to make my home” (this comes from a line in the song). A very simple, but fun, love letter to the Big Apple. The song concludes with what sounds like announcement over a loudspeaker telling passengers the next stop on the subway. I thought that was a nice touch.

Ramone shows a more tender side to himself with “Waiting for that railroad.” The song begins with a soft acoustic guitar leading into Ramone crying to his loved one; “Sitting here, thinking of you and I’m waiting for that railroad to go home.”  Something one might not be used to hearing Joey Ramone say. There’s a mandolin gently strumming in the background as Ramone laments about his longing to be home. This was one of my favorite songs on the album.

Another unexpected surprise was “Christmas in May.” “Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight)” may be a well known song by the singer, but this album offered up a different version. Listeners may be used to the version that was released in 1989, which was much heavier, faster, and more upbeat than the newer version. This rendition has a fifties doo-wop vibe to it. Mid-tempo and much more mellow, this is definitely a song to add to the Christmas playlist.

All in all, “Ya know?” is a solid album. It’s unfortunate that Joey Ramone is not around to participate in the promotion or go on tour. Ramone died in 2001 after a seven-year battle with lymphoma in his beloved New York City.

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