In 1974 the musical climate was rife with glam, glitter and disco-breath. One band determined to flip the script firmly on its greasy head was The Ramones and they started their punk rock revolution at their spiritual home: CBGB’s in New York. We take a look at one of their first-ever filmed performances at the legendary punk venue and see the leather-clad band at their frenetic and ferocious beginnings.
Only five years after the hippie-mecca of Woodstock was trampled by hundreds of thousands of hippies and beatniks, The Ramones represented a whole new type of rock and roll. They were not content with the folk sensibilities of the sixties, nor were they swayed by the alien glitter of glam rock, Ramones were staring down the barrel of a new youth movement, and they made it happen with a simple “One! Two! Three! Four!”.
Built on three chords and two-minute tracks, the band wearing leather motorbike jackets, high-top Converse, and ripped jeans cast aside the sixties and paved the way for a multitude of bands to come. The Ramones weren’t scared to be themselves and they refused to conform to any standards the rock and roll royalty liked to set out. “Eliminate the unnecessary and focus on the substance,” Tommy Ramone would say on the band’s ethos many years later.
One eyewitness to the scene was music journalist Legs McNeil, the future co-founder of Punk magazine told History.com: “They were all wearing these black leather jackets. And they counted off this song…and it was just this wall of noise,” McNeil later recalled. “These guys were not hippies. This was something completely new.”
The band were comprised of Douglas Colvin, John Cummings, Thomas Erdelyi and Jeffrey Hyman, better known to the world as Dee Dee, Johnny, Tommy and Joey Ramone and they were something completely new. So new in fact that the world didn’t have a name for the type of sound the quartet produced, in fact, it wasn’t until 1975 that McNeil would coin the term “punk rock” and label those who wished to remain labelless.
The footage below is of one of the earliest shows the band ever performed. Having first taken to the stage in August of 1974, this footage is from just a month later at the same iconic venue. It sees the band, at their third ever show, perform three known tracks ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’, ‘I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement’, and the punk anthem ‘Judy Is a Punk’ with the same fervour and fury that would make the band a hit with the pent-up youth of America.
In the clip, there are two major things to note. Firstly, yes, the sound quality is pretty awful. When we say ‘pretty awful’, we mean fucking terrible. But secondly, and far more importantly, it really doesn’t matter.
The Ramones and punk, in general, has never and will never be about the quality of the sound. It is and will always be about the power of the emotion behind the songs and performance. If poor quality sonics upset you then go listen to Prog-rock with your dad.
Watch below the first-ever filmed performance from The Ramones at CBGB’s in 1974.
Source: Consequence of Sound