Album Reviews

CJ Ramone – Last Chance to Dance Review

cjramone_cover

Released by: Fatwreck Cords

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Punk Rock

Links: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCjRamone

 

Line Up:

CJ Ramone – Bass/Vocals
Steve Soto – Guitar/Vocals
Dan Root – GUitar/Vocals
Bam Bam Mclurrgh – Drums/Vocals

 

Tracklist:

1: Understand Me? Download
2: Won’t Stop Swinging
3: One More Chance
4: Carry Me Away
5: ’Til the End
6: Long Way to Go
7: Mr. Kalashnikov
8: Pitstop
9: Grunt
10: You Own Me
11: Last Chance to Dance
12: Cluster Fuck

 

In 1989 legendary punk rockers The Ramones found themselves at a career crossroads. As they began to record their 11th studio album “Brain Drain”, founding member and primary song writer Dee Dee Ramone left the band. Instead of packing it in they found themselves a new bassist in 23 year old ex-marine Christopher Joseph Ward, christened him C.J. Ramone and carried on recording and touring for 7 more years, finally playing their 2,263th and final show on Aug 6th 1996 in Los Angeles CA.

In the almost 20 years since that final gig C.J. has mostly stayed out of the music business. Briefly playing in The Ramainz with Dee Dee and Marky Ramone, releasing a few singles and albums with Los Gusanos and Bad Chopper and turning down the coveted bass slot in Metallica twice to be able to raise his family.
In 2012 he returned to the music scene with his first solo release under the Ramone name, the excellent “Reconquista”. Now as 2014 draws to a close he’s back with his 2nd solo effort, “Last Chance To Dance” (http://www.fatwreck.com/record/detail/933).

The lead single “Understand Me”, opens the album with Johnny-esque buzz sawing guitars & driving drums that bring to mind The  Ramones “Bop Til You Drop, but segues quickly into the melodic verses that are becoming a CJ trademark. The title track, “One More Chance”, “You Own Me” and “’Til The End” would also be right at home on any later period Ramones release, with the 2 former tunes having that surf music on speed feel and the latter being great mid tempo love songs that I could easily hear Joey singing. CJ’s suits the material well from the tender to the intense without trying to be a Joey clone, though he certainly seems to have picked up a thing or two about melody from the punk icon.

The seemingly autobiographical “Won’t Stop Swinging” and “Grunt”  take a bit of a heavier turn as does the aggressive strut of “Mr. Kalashnikov” an ode to the inventor of the AK-47 machine gun.
Another welcome surprise is an excellent cover of the Alice Cooper deep cut “Long Way To Go” from their breakthrough album “Love It To Death”.
The only song that does’t work for me is the closing track “Clusterfuck”, which is really just a matter of personal taste as I’ve never been a fan of the hardcore sound. Among all the catchy hooks and sweet melodies this song just seems out of place to me.

Someone looking to be dismissive might complain that there’s nothing new to be heard in “Last Chance To Dance”, but there’s a freshness mixed with the familiar. Of all the bands influenced by The Ramones who’s more deserving of wearing that influence on their sleeve than someone who was hand picked  and there slogging it out on the road with them for seven years? “Reconquista” and now “Last Chance To Dance” are welcome additions to The Ramones canon and I think CJ’s fallen brothers would be proud of the way he’s carrying on their legacy.

 

Written by Dave Burke

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