CJ Ramone – ‘American Beauty’ (Fat Wreck Chords) Print
CD Reviews
Written by Dom Daley   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 04:30

American BeautyOver the past few years, CJ has consistently turned in decent records that uphold honourably the Ramones family name and with this, his third solo record, he's only gone and perfected his own niche and written some really strong songs that have that familiar Ramones feel and production yet have some distance and also sound totally CJ.

 

You'll know what I mean when the needle hits the grooves. Don't ever underestimate or dismiss CJ's place as he was a Ramone for seven years and happened to pen their finest song of the last few albums ('Strength To Endure'): he was alleged to be the rose between the Joey and Johnny thorns and the guy who held the band together for quite some time and that has to be respected.

 

Anyway it’s 2017 and not the early '90s, and on the sound of it he’s managed to write some excellent tunes for this brand new 12 track album that, I think it’s fair to say, has more variety than any of the albums he played on as a Brudda.  

 

Claiming to have penned the whole album in two weeks flat is even more impressive and remarkable. The bombastic opener 'Let's Go' would have been a classic for his previous employers to have played: you have to love the handclaps, as this cretin is most definitely hoppin'.  The first three songs fly by in a blaze of glory and a salute to Johnny, Joey et all.  The pace kicks back and 'Before The Lights Go Out' is a light hearted love song (I kid you not!): OK, so there are drums and electric guitars, but those gang vocals are great as is the acoustic and electric strumming. 

 

CJ was always great at writing really hooky fast pop songs with loud guitars and he really understood what it was Dee Dee could do when writing his songs.  Then comes the albums biggest talking point and biggest departure.  It doesn't take a rocket (to Russia) scientist to work out what or who 'Tommy's Gone' is about: following on from his first solo album’s 'Three Angels', this simple short full stop is CJ opening up to Tommy  even though he never worked with him he certainly held a common bond and brotherhood that only a few ever got to become a member of.  Thoughtful, poignant and moving. 

 

Kate Eldridge handles the vocals with CJ on the super catchy 'Without You' and shows the Green Days of this world that if there was any justice in this world they'd be headlining stadiums with this dude.  Then it’s back to the ‘50s for some bubblegum pop on 'Be A Good Girl' - even if you can sing 'Out Of Time' on the chorus, because it matters not a single jot.  

 

The penultimate song is about as close as I'd like to get to a bit of a jig with the opening riff, but it does settle down - honest. Besides, I love CJ's stories and this is no exception there's no clever wordplay or hidden meaning it’s just great music and a great story. To take this bad boy home there's time for a Tom Waits cover in the shape of 'Pony'… and he’s only gone and brought those Mariachi El Bronx boys along for some tooting and hooting before taking the track on a dust up and a jump around. 

 

An album that won’t fail to leave a smile on the listener’s face and that warm feeling in your heart that reminds you what rock and roll is all about – it’s a good time folks: CJ Ramone knows exactly how to have one and he's been kind enough to record it all for us to enjoy, and both remember where he's come from and where he is now, doing it with a big assed smile across his face. 

 

An ‘American Beauty’? Hell yeah! CJ I salute you for another 12 excellent songs and a grin across my face!

 

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