Tommy Ramone on Rocket to Russia & Opinions on Tom Petty

Ramones

Jim and Greg conduct a Classic Album Dissection of The Ramones’ 1977 release Rocket to Russia, including a 2007 Sound Opinions interview with the late Tommy Ramone. Tommy died on July 11th and was the last surviving original member of the pioneering punk band. Later, Jim and Greg review a new album from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

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While this year’s Fourth of July has already come and gone, the spirit of independence is still alive and kicking for indie record labels like Domino, Ninja Tune, and Sub Pop. They, and more than 700 others small labels from across the globe, recently signed the Fair Digital Deals Declaration, a manifesto of sorts that seeks to standardize the way artists and music companies deal with digital music sales. Among the five main points the signatories swear to abide are clearer explanations to artist about what their cut of digital sales will be, as well as a commitment to supporting artists who oppose their music being used without permission. Jim and Greg certainly support the intent of the quasi-policy, but they wonder what effect it will ultimately have, as there’s no clear way to enforce it.

Speaking of the independent spirit, Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot isn’t done raging against the Kremlin. Its two most outspoken members are now suing the Russian government in the European Court of Human Rights for the violation of their rights during their original Russian court proceedings, and for the treatment they received during the nearly two years they spent in prison following the group’s sacrilegious protest/performance inside a Moscow cathedral in 2012. Beyond financial reparations, the members’ lawsuit also wants to set the precedent that freedom of expression cannot be stifled in Russia, even though at the time of their sentencing, the majority of Russians supported punishing the women. Jim and Greg wish them the best fighting the good fight.

Check out our World Tour visit to Russia.

Rocket to Russia

Rocket to Russia

In 1976, The Ramones blasted onto the budding punk scene with their self-titled first LP and blew critics away with their blistering speed and old-school simplicity. However, it wasn’t until the next year, after a monumental European tour and the release of their third album, Rocket to Russia, that the group’s characteristic break-neck punk sound flooded the airwaves and the took the rock world by storm. Now, nearly 40 years after Rocket to Russia blew a hole in the punk rock atmosphere, we mourn the death of Ramones’ founder, drummer, producer, and guiding light Tommy Ramone. In honor of the legend’s passing, Jim and Greg strap in for a Classic Album Dissection of The Ramones’ 1977 speed machine and revisit a 2007 conversation with Tommy. Jim and Greg, curious about the magic behind masters of punk, ask Tommy about the day-to-day during the recording process and the band’s cross-pond rivalry with British punk group the Sex Pistols. Tommy tells all, including the story of the band’s suburban origins and the secret behind Dee Dee’s famous, though not-so-useful count-offs.

To stake their flag in the dissection’s conclusion, Jim and Greg each choose their favorite song from Rocket to Russia. Jim plays Sheena is a Punk Rocker, calling it the perfect rock song and reminiscing about his young days listening to The Ramones. Greg settles on the song We’re a Happy Family as a representation of the Ramones knack for writing catchy social commentary. The song satirizes the idea of perfect suburban family life represented so often by TV programs at the time, a poignant topic for the suburban-boy Ramones from Queens, New York.

Hypnotic Eye Tom Petty

Hypnotic Eye

Dizzying cover aside, Tom Petty is back in fine form with Hypnotic Eye. He’s once again with The Heartbreakers, but, while Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, and Steve Ferrone are reliably on-point, Greg notes that the album as a whole is tighter and more concise than 2010’s Mojo. Jim finds Petty to be pleasantly cranky, expressing frustrations with the thwarted American Dream and those who remain down-and-out. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers earn a double Buy It for Hypnotic Eye.

Jim

With a main course of Ramones and a side of Tom Petty, Jim has had his fill of boomer classic rock for this episode. So, for dessert, he offers up Macy Gray as a Desert Island Jukebox selection. And he’d encourage any eye-rollers to remember how great her debut album was in 1999. Most memorable of all from On How Life Is, is I Try, one of the best songs of the ‘90s. Here’s hoping her forthcoming release in harkens back to these good ‘ol days.

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