Listen to 405 Radio
Shonen Knife – Osaka Ramones: A Tribute to the Ramones

Shonen Knife – Osaka Ramones: A Tribute to the Ramones

by , 27 October 2011

Our often deep-seated cynicism about cover albums isn't without justification. Routinely deployed by creatively exhausted bands to fulfil contractual obligations in the absence of new material, tribute records can be a dispiriting prospect. Then of course there's the prospect of Japan's premier punk outfit raiding the back catalogue of the Ramones...

In stark contrast to so many tribute albums, this project makes a great deal of creative sense and offers endless tantalizing possibilities. New York's punk pioneers have had so large an influence on Osaka's Shonen Knife that the Japanese all-girl trio have occasionally performed as tribute act the Osaka Ramones. In what feels like the most natural of moves, this disc revisits that concept to celebrate not only the livewire sound of America's best punk band but also the 30th anniversary of the Japanese group who could count Kurt Cobain among their fans.

Much has changed for Shonen Knife since the days when their live show turned the Nirvana frontman “into a hysterical nine-year-old girl.” Lead vocalist and guitarist Naoko Yamano is the only member remaining from their formation in 1981, but Osaka Ramones shows that newer members Ritsuko Taneda and Emi Morimoto are well integrated on bass and drums respectively. It also shows how deep the group's love for the Ramones is; their choices of songs to cover include a few classics, but also some fan-friendly curveballs like 'Scattergun' from the final Ramones album, ¡Adiós Amigos! from 1995.

In each and every case, Ramones material and Shonen Knife performance turns out to be a marriage made in punk heaven. Yamano's basic eccentricity and especially her struggles to pronounce sounds which don't exist in Japanese add extra humour to 'Blitzkrieg Bop' and 'The KKK Took My Baby Away', while 'She's the One' benefits from the change in gender perspective to become an odd girl-on-girl love song.

Admittedly limited as they are, Osaka Ramones faultlessly achieves its aims. A lovingly-made album of faithful but dynamic covers which often flirts with genuine hilarity, it's an unmissable prospect for fans of either the Ramones or Shonen Knife themselves. For many people 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker' sums up the former band's discography, and it performs the same function here; if you don't love this deliriously fun rendition from your first listen, this isn't the record for you.

Rating: 8.5/10

Purchase and listen

Related Reviews

  • The Dø – Both Ways Open Jaws

    The Dø – Both Ways Open Jaws

    by Andy Johnson

    What's next for an artist after they propel their sometimes recklessly experimental début album to the top of a national chart? Back in 2008, Franco-Finnish art-pop duo The Dø achieved exactly that when their deeply flawed, but occasionally inspired, first album A Mouthful became the first English-language record by a French act to hit #1 in France. [read more]

  • Darren Hayman - The Ship’s Piano

    Darren Hayman - The Ship’s Piano

    by Jonathan Greer

    It has been fairly well documented that in November 2009 Darren Hayman was badly beaten up whilst on a short tour of the UK, and he suffered a fractured skull and a period in hospital as a result. The fall-out from that incident has not dented his gift for prolific songwriting – this album is an additional piece of work to '31 Songs', his successful song-a-day effort from January this year – but the attack did give him partial deafness and an inability to cope with loud transient sounds. [read more]

  • The Spits - The Spits V

    The Spits - The Spits V

    by Chris Woolfrey

    ‘Last Man on Earth’, the final song on the new, fifth album by The Spits, is a good example of the limits and strengths that come with genre pre-conceptions. Played at a high tempo, the vocals are as deep and dirty as the rest of the album, the drums frantic; it’s punk. [read more]

  • Windy & Carl - We Will Always Be

    Windy & Carl - We Will Always Be

    by Jonathan Greer

    For those of you who don't know, Carl plays guitar and Windy plays bass, and this story does explain why this album is covered in guitar textures from start to finish, with bass and vocals perhaps added later in the mix. [read more]

Comments

Follow Us

Recommended Posts

Popular Posts

Mailing List

Sign up to our weekly mailing list.

Around The Web