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

  • Swimming - Ecstatics International

    Swimming - Ecstatics International

    by Tom Jenkins

    A near faultless, cliché-free exploration of contemporary synth pop - how’s that for an opening statement (and poster quote)? [read more]

  • The Big Pink – Future This

    The Big Pink – Future This

    by Toby McCarron

    Two years after their debut A Brief History of Love, The Big Pink have returned to try and conquer the difficult second album syndrome. It seems this time round Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze are taking a slightly different approach to their music, with talk being thrown around of a more hip-hop inspired record centred on samples and drum machines, rather than the explosions of shoegaze guitar and experiments with the power of sheer noise that defined their debut. [read more]

  • Imbogodom - And They Turned Not When They Went

    Imbogodom - And They Turned Not When They Went

    by Jonathan Greer

    Imbogodom is the name of the collaborative project between Alexander Tucker and Daniel Beban, two musicians working in similar fields, but based at either end of the planet – Tucker in London and Beban in Wellington, New Zealand. [read more]

  • Fairewell - Poor, Poor Grendel

    Fairewell - Poor, Poor Grendel

    by Tom Jowett

    To find yourself amongst the elite, you must thrive as a minority. The majority may rule, but the mainstream is always diluted and often in the wrong. Poor, Poor Grendel is a fine attempt at musical segregation and isolation, treading in the unique footsteps of its heroes into the mysterious wilds they discovered and which they now daub with colour and illumination; a wilderness first exposed by The Velvet Underground and inhabited by My Bloody Valentine. [read more]

Comments

Follow Us

Recommended Posts

Popular Posts

Mailing List

Sign up to our weekly mailing list.

Around The Web