Critically Divisive Musicians: Exhibit A (Ramones)

In regards to critically divisive musicians, I noted in the comments box last week that the early Ramones were more or less as good a case study as any — as this great, great ad attests. It’s for the group’s second album, Leave Home, and it consists entirely of excerpts from reviews of their debut. (I had to blow up and splice the ad in half so as to render it legible online… The ad also contained pics of the first two albums and was headlined “Ramones Get Noticed.”) When I think of how difficult this must’ve been for someone to compile back in 1977… Clearly SIRE had a publicist on board more than earning their keep.  

Obviously, the reaction is far from split down the middle here — the majority of these are positive comments. Some of the negative ones are pretty harsh, though, and funny. And no one but no one can be said to sit on the fence.

I have to wonder, though, about this comment by Steve Morrissey: “Degenerate no-talents.” Is that THE Morrissey? If so, is he merely being cheeky? (Or perhaps the maker of the ad is being cheeky by pulling that particular line? Maybe he meant “degenerate no-talents” as a term of affection?) Didn’t Moz write a book about the New York Dolls?


6 thoughts on “Critically Divisive Musicians: Exhibit A (Ramones)

  1. 21 July 1976 – ??? (UK)
    Under the headline “Ramones are rubbish”, Morrissey writes: “The Ramones are the latest bumptious band of degenerate no-talents whose most notable achievement to date is their ability to advance beyond the boundaries of New York City, and purely on the strength of a spate of convincing literature projecting the Ramones as God’s gift to rock music. They have been greeted with instant adulation by an army of duped fans. Musically, they do not deal in subtlety or variation of any kind, their rule is to be as incompetent as possible. For a band believed to project the youth of America, New York – suburban life, anti-conformism, sex and struggle, or whatever, they fail miserably. And in the sober light of day their imperfections have a field day. (…). The New York Dolls and Patti Smith have proved that there is some life pumping away in the swamps and gutters of New York and they are the only acts which originated from the N.Y. club scene worthy of any praise. The Ramones have absolutely nothing to add that is of relevance or importance and should be rightly filed and forgotten. Steve Morrissey, Kings Road, Stretford, Manchester.”

    25 September 1976 – Sounds (UK)

    from moz fansite passionsjustlikemine

  2. Yeah, but that was just a letter to the editor a pre-musician Morrissey wrote in, correct? Who ya gonna believe, a real rock critic, or some clearly deranged civilian? Leave the driving to the experts, Moz, and nobody will get injured.

  3. Guess this was another case of the stun shining out of Steven’s bylines. Nice irony too that when the Smiths made it to the US a few years later, their sides were issued on that same Sire label, long home to the Ramones. By that time, Madonna-of-the-Masses was probably picking up the tab for both of these more-critically-approved Sire artistes.

  4. I remember seeing this and thinking how cool it was that they would include the negative reviews in the ad. In those days it was you either got it or you didn’t. The more people that didn’t get it, you realized something you were doing something worth pursuing.
    The Ramones were a godsend to those of us tired of 10 minute wanks being passed as rock music in those days. It was damn refreshing and started to put a guitar back in everyone’s hand instead of kids being relegated to thinking it always going to be somebody else doing it. 30+ years on, the Ramones still wiggle a nerve up my spine.

    Gabba Gabba Hey!

  5. To Richard Riegel: Madonna on Sire wasn’t “picking up the tab” for the Ramones. The Ramones could record an album in less than a week, and have even done it in two days. They tour very frugal, even coming home after shows close enough. The Ramones brought in extra gravy to the label.

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