Hey Ho… Really, That’s all I have To Pay… Let’s Go! – Ramones (Coloured vinyl studio records)

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Paying money for a Ramones record any time at any price will never be questioned by this guy. You see, you can talk about best and greatest and define this thing and that, but – without question or argument, if you ask me who was or is, the “Coolest Band” to have ever graced the planet, one word folks – Ramones.

By themselves they could never sell out a stadium. They did not create actual “hit” records that saw airplay on major radio stations resulting in huge sales. They didn’t own a jet, blow millions and become a Spinal Tap influence. Nope, these guys played in bars and earned their fan base one gig at a time, and in the end became recognized as the first and greatest of all punk bands. People know the songs; they jump up and play air guitar, dance or pogo when any number of their tunes gets played. They can’t name the tune but they sing along all the same. Ramones defy logic, and we love them for it. My own children aged seven and eleven can identify only two bands with just a couple notes – The Beatles and Ramones. Which makes perfect sense if you consider that in a 2002 Spin magazine edition listing the 50 Greatest Bands of All-Time; those two bands were ranked one and two. Well that, and the fact that both bands see an ample amount of time on the stereo.

So how do you build a vinyl altar worthy of the all time “Coolest Band?”

For me, it’s pretty simple – you collect something as visually stunning as the music they played.

Starting in 2000, Sire started releasing remastered copies of the Ramones records on 180 gram red translucent vinyl. The first was their self titled. Resellers are asking for $25.00 or more FOR STILL SEALED COPIES.

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Road To Ruin was also released in 2000 and will set you back a minimum of $20.00

Leave Home was the next album released (2001). Resellers are asking less than $20.00 in some cases. Then Rocket To Russia and End Of The Century saw 2005 as their release dates with both records hovering around the $20 mark. Again remember, these prices are for sealed copies of audiophile vinyl, and I’m only covering the first five studio albums.

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Other coloured versions of these records have been released since in limited quantity, but the resale asking prices on these starts to get a little more ‘pricey.’ There are a virtual ton of options open for collecting Ramones wax, but if you play your cards right, you can find really cool things for pretty reasonable prices. Then again, I could spend the kids college fund… and… oh come on, it was just a thought!

Punk Before Anyone Coined The Phrase or The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics!!!

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No one quite did early garage rock like The Sonics. They were a musical mess of fuzzy guitar, earth pounding drums, screaming vocals and lyrics that were dirty and just plain asinine at times. This was the early sixties and while The Beatles were singing “Love Me Do” The Sonics were belting out “she’s gonna make you itch / ‘cause she’s the witch” (from the song “The Witch”) and as the Stones sang about “Mother’s Little Helper” these guys were blasting out a tune named “Strychnine.” It was a sound that reverberated from the 60’s and had enough impact to influence everyone one from The Stooges to Nirvana. The fact is that they were punk long before anyone even coined the phrase.

That The Sonics are not a household name is more at testament to poor timing than quality of expression. They were loud and crass before it became popular, and when they tried to move in a more commercial direction, that sound changed again and the band wasn’t thrilled about their new path anyway. Their debut, Here Are The Sonics!!!, was released in 1965 and by ’68 they called it a day. However, punk in the 70’s and grunge in the 90’s brought renewed interest in the band. Nirvana and later the White Stripes and Hives hailed them as influences while cover versions of their songs were played by the Flaming Lips, The Fall, L7, The Cramps, LCD Soundsystem and more.

If you are considering giving these guys a try the best place to start is with Here Are The Sonics!!! which provides the best overall example of their sound. On vinyl, you have a few choices, but your best bet is actually the 1998 mono edition released on regular vinyl. Mono being how it was originally recorded, it sounds far better. The great thing is that it is still widely available, NEW, for around the twenty dollar mark. A re-united Sonics has been touring and recently released a new album, This Is The Sonics.

“Should I Stay or Should I… well you know the rest” or The Clash – Combat Rock

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The problem I always run into when dealing with classic albums and their vinyl re-issues is the sheer amount of arguing that goes on between audiophiles on which version is definitive and blah blah blah. I mean honestly, there were twenty-nine different vinyl versions of Combat Rock covering (almost) every continent on the planet during its initial release. I don’t have the time or inclination to read a music-geek argument about the South Korean release being superior to the Brazilian edition which may or may not have better quality vinyl than the Yugoslavian wax. I find myself yelling at the poor monitor “I just want to know if the re-master sounds good.”

So here is what I found out…

Throughout 2012 Mick Jones was working on re-mastering the entire Clash catalogue for a 2013 release. Three editions of Combat Rock hit the streets along with other vinyl re-masters covering the entire Clash catalogue.

The first version was put out by Columbia Records for the European market on 180 gram black vinyl. The second was released by Music On Vinyl in the Netherlands which also has a pretty big online and mail-order presence and the third was put out (on 180 gram vinyl again) by Sony (Epic) for North American distribution.

All 2013 vinyl was released using the newly re-mastered Mick Jones analog source tapes. Actually, there is a really good Rolling Stone interview that has Mick Jones describing the process. It’s pretty cool.

If you are looking to get a copy of any of The Clash records on vinyl, the 2013 versions are widely available through record retailers both locally and abroad. Oh yeah – the re-master sounds good… real good!