Release Date: May 22, 2012
Record label: BMG
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Punk-Pop
Built from songs he left behind mostly as home demos, Joey Ramone's second posthumous solo album is unlikely but undeniable dynamite: buoyant fuzz-box pop with no stitches showing in the new overdubs by fans and peers such as Steven Van Zandt, Joan Jett and the Dictators' Andy Shernoff. Joey pursued Stooges-like basics and Phil Spector-size romance with the same zeal both in and out of the Ramones, and many songs here, like "New York City" and "Seven Days of Gloom," would have fit on – and improved – some of that band's later, spotty albums. "Rock 'n roll is the answer," Joey sings in one title chorus, in fine and familiar voice – a true believer to the end.
It’s people’s insatiable appetite for nostalgia (and the money it potentially generates) that inevitably leads to put-on-a-happy-face reunions, half-hearted posthumous releases and, well, Hologram Tupac and Optical Illusion Freddie Mercury (sigh). Then there are the rare occasions when an artist leaves behind material that should be heard. When Joey Ramone died from lymphoma in April of 2001 he left behind a cache of songs in various states of completion and fidelity.
First Tupac’s hologram, then Whitney’s role in the upcoming Sparkle. Not to mention the chart-topping sales of Amy Winehouse, post-mortem. Maybe it’s something apocalyptic in the air, but it seems your best shot in the pop world these days is to kick the bucket. The dead have risen; beware the pop-rock zombies.
The Ramones weren't really brothers, but in a real way they could just as well have been. People saw them as a band, not as individuals, and while they had distinct personalities -- Joey the sweet if slightly eccentric oddball, Johnny the humorless taskmaster, Dee Dee the talented but off-kilter screw-up, and the various drummers as well-meaning journeymen -- outside of Dee Dee's ridiculous attempt to reinvent himself as a rapper, none of them ever put much effort into a solo career, as if their individual skills would never quite match what they accomplished together. … Ya Know?, the second Joey Ramone solo album, arrives ten years after 2002's Don't Worry About Me, which in turn was released close to a year after Joey's death, suggesting there's a greater demand and desire for an album from Joey in the 21st century than in the five years that separated the group's breakup and the lead singer's passing.
It's hard to approach Joey Ramone's second posthumous solo album with enormous enthusiasm. After all, his parent band didn't manage an indisputably good record after 1984's Too Tough to Die, and this has been compiled from demos and unreleased recordings – it wasn't intended as an album. There's just one undoubted gem here: Party Line, blessed with proper attention to period detail – the castanets that roll off the back of the Be My Baby beat – would have been one of the better songs on End of the Century, the album the Ramones made with Phil Spector.
Loads of frontmen have had successful solo careers either in addition to their well-known band or independent of it. Whether it’s Mick Jagger or Peter Gabriel, these rock gods achieved fame because of an ability to transfer over their initial appeal while blazing their own unique musical path. For The Ramones’ Joey Ramone, the same can’t be said for his second posthumous solo LP, “…Ya Know?”, which, despite some appealing cuts, finds him unable to adequately disassociate himself from his punk brethren.
Review Summary: Hey! Ho! Just let goThe posthumous record sales market is a very lucrative one. Marquee names like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix live on in the form of re-releases, remixes, and outtake compilations. Tupac Shakur has released more albums in death than life. Sales of Amy Winehouse records soared after her passing and groups like The Doors and Nirvana continue to post larger than average sales numbers.
There’s no denying that Joey Ramone was one of the most important musical figures of the 20th century. His strange frame stood powerfully onstage, giving hope to all the ugly outcasts that they could someday do the same. The cruelest joke is that Joey Ramone, a man musically inspired by the big pop stars of the ’50s and ’60s, would never truly attain his legendary status until after his death.