"Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" is the second single and first track by American punk rock band the Ramones from their fifth studio album End of the Century. It was released on May 16, 1980. This song and the album itself marked a complete change in the Ramones' sound. This was partially due in an attempt to reach commercial success and to the work of their new producer Phil Spector.
While most Ramones songs were based on three chords and a memorable melody, "Rock 'n' Roll Radio" is a complex song, based on many of the 1950s pop songs the band grew up listening to. A piano, trumpet, horn, saxophone, and synthesizer are used along with the standard guitar, drums, and bass. As was common in 1950s rock & roll, the saxophone is the lead instrument rather than the guitar. The opening and closing parts of the song sample a radio tuning into a rock 'n' roll radio channel hosted by a DJ (voiced by Sean Donahue) and the song also contains the saxophone playing of Steve Douglas
The song has become one of the Ramones' most enduring songs. Because of the nature of many different instruments used in the track, while performing live the band replaced the saxophone with the bass guitar as lead instrument.
There is no title track for the End of the Century album. The album title comes from a famous couplet in this song: "It's the end, the end of the seventies/It's the end, the end of the century.". The verse was also used for the title of the 2003 documentary about the group, End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones.
Lyrical content[edit source | edit]Edit
This song states the Ramones' philosophy for forming a band in the first place. The repeated couplet "We need change, we need it fast/Before rock's just part of the past/'Cause lately it all sounds the same to me" was a direct statement. The Ramones sought to return rock and roll to its most basic roots, abandoning movements such as late 1960s psychedelic rock and early 1970s pop music.
Many of the band's influences are mentioned in the song, including Murray the K, John Lennon, Jerry Lee Lewis, T. Rex, The Barbarians (whose drummer, Victor "Moulty" Moulton, is mentioned by his nickname), Alan Freed, as well as musical variety TV and radio shows such as Hullabaloo, Shindig!, Upbeat, and The Ed Sullivan Show (Also, a clip showing Buddy Holly and the Crickets performing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with Holly shaking Sullivan's hand afterwards can be seen in the music video). The song claims that rock and roll is dying, and it needs change if it wants to survive.
Popular culture references[edit source | edit]Edit
The classic music video features the band watching the performances of themselves, and at the end, Johnny Ramone smashing the television with his guitar which became part of the early MTV promo back in 1981.
In homage to the Ramones song, a radio show entitled "Rock 'n Roll Radio" was created in 2005 on WESU Middletown 88.1FM, Wesleyan University's radio station inConnecticut.
The song was covered by Melbourne band Painters and Dockers and played during their live sets in the 1980s. Australianised lyrics included "Do you remember JO'K, Normie Rowe and GTK?". A live version was played on community radio stations such as 3BBB Ballarat and 3RRR Melbourne.
Also covered by Australian band The Porkers included on their single "Perfect Teeth" and also on the "ROCK" compilation cd on Chatterbox Records. The Porkers version also included "JO'K" in the lyrics, a tribute to Aussie king of rock Johnny O'Keefe who penned the song "Wild One".
Track listing[edit source | edit]Edit
U.S. 7" Single
- "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" (Ramones) - 3:50
- "Let's Go" (Ramones) - 3:02