Shonen Knife – ‘Osaka Ramones: A Tribute To The Ramones’ (Damnably)
Reminding us, with a timely jolt, of just how audacious and ridiculous the great American bowel-cut, ennui, miscreant Ramones were; Shonen Knife – a highly influential cult band themselves, revered by Kurt Corbain, Sonic Youth and Red Kross – dedicate a whole fatuous rendered LP to them, and their humorist brand of ‘spunk rock’.
Celebrating the Japanese groups thirtieth year in the business, by honouring their biggest influence; the Shonen Knife trio enunciate and cruise through their idols back catalouge without breaking a sweat. Much in the manner of so many Japanese cover bands who don thoroughly researched period costumes, and pedantically covet all the exact precise instruments used by the original artists they re-enact; this 13-track liturgy comes across as…well dare I say: Karaoke?! Which isn’t to suggest that this record is bland or too polished: without charm or highlights.
Indeed the all girl D.I.Y band share certain traits; with a similar ‘for kicks’ cartoon garage band aesthetic – a reverential appearence on Bevis and Butthead didn’t hurt their kudos – and equally simplistic approach to making music. Though at times their phonetically challenged, timorous, sincerity fails to hit the right note: sounding too cute and affectionate.
A generous spread of The Ramones oeuvre is attempted, with key tracks plucked from the self-titled 1976 debut, right up until 1995s ‘Il Adios Amigos!’: though it’s the 1977 favourite, ‘Rocket To Russia’, that comes out on top. ‘Osaka Ramones’ kicks-off with a bouncy clean-fun rendition of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, then sedately pushes on through a quick succession of 80s rockers; bounding from ‘Rock’N’Roll High School’, to the AM radio raucous, ‘We Want The Airwaves’. Justice is done with a shock-pop, new wave version of ‘Rockaway Beach’, and with an efficacious melodic take on ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’.
Produced by the Goo Goo Dolls‘ Robby Takac, Shonen Knife indulge in their passion for 60s girl vocal groups, and stick to their characteristic sound – though they sometimes sound like a weirdly erratic Blondie. Known for a stripped-down sound, there’s not much more they can ‘strip’ off a Ramones three-chord trick; so instead, each song merryily shadows the original.
If nothing else, they relight my intrest in the bona fide real deal. File this under unashamed fun.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.