Released January 1977
Released barely nine months after their classic debut, The Ramones’s second record consolidated their status as pioneers of New York’s burgeoning punk rock scene and proved their early success was no accident. Leave Home – so titled because of their then-fledgling ambition to tour the world – embellished and improved upon their frantic rock ‘n’ roll formula; the tempos are faster, the choruses are catchier and the lyrics are even more tongue-in-cheek.
“Gonna take a chance on her/one bullet in the cylinder/and in a moment of passion/get the glory, like Charles Manson” bleats Joey Ramone on ‘Glad to See You Go’, the album’s opening track, which serves to re-introduce listeners to both Johnny’s raucous guitar sound and Joey’s irreverent sense of humour. What sets Leave Home apart from their debut – and, in retrospect, the majority of their discography – however, is the increased influence of 60s girl groups such as The Shangri-La’s and The Ronettes: felt most obviously on doo-wop tinged tracks such as ‘I Remember You’ and ‘Oh Oh, I Love Her So’.
Other highlights in the album’s brief, 30 minute running time include ‘Carbona Not Glue’, an update of sorts to their prior mission statement ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’, and the breezy ‘Swallow My Pride’, which cheerily revels in the fact that “things were looking grim/but they’re looking good again”. Meanwhile, ‘Pinhead’ has become one of The Ramones’ most enduring tracks, due in part to its legendary “gabba gabba hey!” refrain. The Riviera’s ‘California Sun’, the album’s sole cover, is given the same treatment as the rest of the record, and may as well have been a Ramones song all along; its sunny, fun-time vibe fits right in with the rest of the tracks.
Leave Home is unlikely to change anyone’s life – in 2014, man can no longer live by three chords alone – but it stands as a snapshot of a hugely influential band on the rise, and even now remains a fun, refreshing listen.
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