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Richie Ramone: Entitled

Album Notes

Seventeen years after the Ramones called it quits, and 26 years after he quit playing drums for the band, Richie Ramone has finally released his first solo album, so you certainly can't accuse him of jumping onto the gravy train of Ramones fan worship too quickly. Then again, even if Richie had put out Entitled a year after parting ways with the pride of Queens, New York, he probably wouldn't have seemed like he was riding their coattails. For the most part, Entitled doesn't sound much like the Ramones, though it does sound like something a lot of Ramones fans might like. Most of the tunes on Entitled are built around speedy tempos, relentless drums, and thick guitar figures, but even though the album's sneering attitude and forward velocity owe a lot to vintage punk rock (and "Smash You" would have been a nice fit on Animal Boy or Halfway to Sanity), guitarist Tommy Bolan's thick, snarling tone and shredding solo style have a lot more to do with heavy metal than Richie's old band (though the Ramones' influence on the evolution of faster/louder metal in the 1980s is certainly worth noting). Even the tunes that Richie has reworked from his days with the Ramones ("I Know Better Now," "I'm Not Jesus," "Humankind") in this context take on a distinct personality of their own, far darker and heavier than their original incarnations, with Richie's thick Noo Joisey accent and melodramatic phrasing dialing up the drama on "Forgotten Years" and "Criminal." Richie's drumming is as sharp and ferocious as ever, Bolan and bassist Jiro Okabe lend enthusiastic support, and the production (by Richie himself) is full-bodied and straightforward. If it took Richie Ramone a long time to step out on his own, he's shown he doesn't have to rely on past glories to make a solid album (well, except for those three re-records), and Entitled is a more ambitious and imaginative work than you'd expect from the third Ramones drummer, coming a quarter-century after his last steady gig. ~ Mark Deming


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