WE'RE A HAPPY FAMILY - A TRIBUTE TO THE RAMONES - Various Artists (Columbia)
First off, a caveat - I'm not a big fan of tribute albums. I have a huge mental block when it comes to someone messing with the arrangement of songs that are almost a part of me, like those of the Ramones. Quite frankly, I'd rather hear a rote, by-the-numbers take on their legacy rather than giving some of these people artistic licence.

"We're A Happy Family" kicks things off in dismal fashion with the Red Hot Chili Peppers' schmaltzy, slowed-down attempt at "Havana Affair," which makes no sense at all, robbing the song of all its drive. Would somebody please put these guys out of my, er, their misery?

It's hard to believe, but there's no light at the end of the tunnel until five songs in, to wit U2's faithful rendition, buzzsaw guitars and all (who woulda thunk it?), of "Beat On The Brat," although Saviour Of The World Bono's vocals are a might twee for my taste.

Kiss comes up with a gut bucket "Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio," Green Day do themselves proud on "Outsider," Rancid tear "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" a new orifice, The Offspring turn in a just-alright version of "I Wanna Be Sedated," and Tom Waits coughs up a hairball during a hilarious (read "great") "Return Of Jackie & Judy."

Unfortunately, we also get Rob Zombie, sounding for all the world like the Cookie Monster on a "Blitzkrieg Bop" that goes absolutely nowhere, Marilyn Manson, whose "The KKK Took My Baby Away" is even worse than his butchering of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell" on the "Detroit Rock City" soundtrack, and The Pretenders dirge-like "Something To Believe In" (what was Chrissie Hynde thinking?).

Although 6-for-16 may be a cause for celebration in baseball, it might not translate well when it comes to your money. Unfortunately for me, it's too late...Joey and Dee Dee must be spinning in their graves.
- Clark Paull





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