New Release (BMG)
Take this album for what it is — a bunch of Joey Ramone’s demos turned into polished songs long after the fact — and it’s a blast, the closest thing to a new Ramones album we’ll ever get. It’s still bittersweet to hear Joey’s voice again, especially since this album suggests he would’ve kept making great rock & roll if he’d stayed healthy. The supporting cast (longtime collaborators Ed Stasium and Daniel Rey, along with his brother Mickey Leigh and kindred spirits Joan Jett and a couple of Cheap Tricks and Smithereens) are the same folks he’d probably be working with now, and the mix of sounds — some vintage Ramones, a touch of metal, a little acoustic and a nod to Phil Spector — sounds right up his alley. Some songs were obviously more finished than others, but “New York City” is pure goofy joy and “Eyes of Green” airs some less characteristic lust. And you’ve got to get a little teary when he throws the line “Can’t break the spirit, baby” into the fist-waver “Rock & Roll Is the Answer.”
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