Hey! Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology

by: The Ramones

In a way, the Ramones are an ideal band to anthologize. No matter how cohesive their records were (or not), their albums always played like collections of singles and since singles are easy to anthologize, it stands to reason that the best of the Ramones' songs will sound good in nearly any context; hell, the haphazard Ramones Mania proved that. However, Rhino's double-disc Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones Anthology has much greater goals than being just another collection -- it strives to be the final word on the Ramones. Weighing in at nearly 60 songs, with a hardcover book that includes an excellent history by David Fricke, it has to be said that the set has the heft of history, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because Anthology does its job perfectly -- apart from "We're a Happy Family," no major songs are missing and it tells its history succinctly, even at its length. The problem is that the Ramones did drop in quality sometime after End of the Century. They never bottomed out, but their music became less exciting, which is evident in this anthology, as the second disc is simply not as compelling as the first. That's not to say it isn't good -- with "The KKK Took My Baby Away" and "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)," it can be great -- but it isn't timeless like the entire first disc is. Yet, this is nitpicking, since Anthology does a flawless job in summarizing the band's career. True, most listeners will wear out the first disc while rarely reaching for the second, but this is still essential. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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