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Shonen Knife celebrates 30
Shonen Knife - Osaka Ramones
Review by Tony BonyataI have to preface this review with the statement that I adore The Ramones - perhaps the perfect, if not the first, punk band to inbreed the sunny pop of the'50s and '60s with the heavier proto-punk sounds from Detroit & NYC in the early '70s. They distilled these sounds together into one explosive two-minute gem after another throughout their 20-year career. So with that said, I'd probably be happy listening to a Ramones cover album by Lady Gaga or Lil Wayne. Thankfully, though, I don't have to subject myself to this, as the all-girl Japanese band Shonen Knife, who also share the same pop-punk affinities as their musical heroes, have just released their own collection of Ramones favorites.
Celebrating their 30th year as a band (even though vocalist/guitarist Naoko Yamano is the only remaining original member), the trio, consisting of bassist Ritsuko Taneda and drummer Emi Morimoto, along with Yamano, decided to pay tribute to a band that has been such a strong influence on their own short blasts of smile-inducing, rice-candy-flavored punk. On their album Osaka Ramones, the threesome joyfully blow the hinges off the gate with the opening refrain of "Hey Ho Let's Go!" on "Blitzkrieg Bop," and then proceed to exuberantly plow through other early NYC punk gems such as "Rock and Roll High School," "Rockaway Beach," "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," "Chinese Rock" and "Beat On The Brat." While the immediacy of The Ramones' music has always appealed to the very young, Shonen Knife take it a step further as they add their own sticky gob of bubblegum pop between the grooves, making it sound like the perfect soundtrack to a sugar-buzzed Saturday morning cartoon marathon in the early '70s.
Admittedly, there's no band to better The Ramones' own endearingly thick-skulled pop songs - built on three-chords, a wave of nostalgia, inner-city street smarts, and sophomoric lyrics that sound as if they were scribbled on the back of a Jughead comic while sniffing glue. But if there's anyone capable of tapping into the same sense of unbridled fun and youthful danger, then my money has to go on these three chicks.
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