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Ramones: An American Band Library Binding – May 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 202 pages
  • Publisher: San Val (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1417706651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417706655
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,428,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Music journalist Bessman's closeness to his subject--he is a good friend of the members of the Ramones--has both positive and negative effects on his authorized history of this seminal American band, famous for knowing only three chords and for playing everything as fast as possible. Bessman has great access to details such as the Ramones's mistrust of the Talking Heads--"a bunch of intellectuals"--with whom they toured Europe. But it also means that he sometimes misses the ironies and inconsistencies in their behavior, like the fact that members of a band whose lyrics include the infamous line "Well I'm a Nazi, schatzi, you know, I fight for the fatherland" claimed that their work had no political content. The "four guys from Queens" who formed the original group in 1974 seem to have been truly without pretensions, which makes Bessman's overheated interpretation of their achingly simple lyrics just silly. Bessman's theory is that the Ramones were always poised on the brink of stardom but missed out due to the mistakes of others, i.e., the release of one of their best-known songs, Rockaway Beach , during the winter and the poor distribution of their only film, Rock 'n' Roll High School. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This journal of the "Grateful Dead of punk rock" is well paced, streamlined, and tautly built. It pulses home its main point with fierce precision: that the durable yet quirky band has earned a place in the annals of rock'n'roll history. The book chronicles the lives of the band members with a cold eye, depicting everything from the tragic flaws (drug addiction, personality disorders) to their dedication to their style of music: three-chord punk rock songs that so viscerally capture the teenage angst of suburban youth. The author argues that the Ramones symbolize the breakout from the stranglehold of disco music and the salvation from the self-congratulatory babbling of progressive rock (e.g., bands like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and YES). The Ramones recaptured the essence of rock'n'roll, and their rewards included a feature film ( Rock'n'Roll High School , 1979). Inspiring and often hilarious, this book is appropriate for libraries with extensive music or rock history collections. --Mike Tierno, New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mikey Ramone on January 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have to say, Jim Bessman did a pretty good amount of research to get some of the information in this book. But the data does not compare to all the stuff featured in the book "Hey Ho, Let's Go: Story of The Ramones", but it doens't fall flat all together.

I originally got this is in mid 2003, but didn't take up reading it until late 2003. Anyways, it does have a fare amount of info- the only Ramones book to talk about the hidden demo "Succubus". And since it was the first Ramones book I read, I learned that the show Marky missed in 83' do to being drunk, was actually at my hometown- Virginia Beach, VA. Though other books said it, this was the first of my hearing of it.

Bessman goes over all the usual subjects- forming of the band, band members, and etc. He does include a nice array of hard to find, or only found in this book pictures. He includes lyrics from songs and such, but ironically, he lost most of the money he made from this book because he included the lyrics with getting permission! (Nice one Jim) And unlike a few other Ramones books, he goes over the short (2 show) lived band member-Elvis Ramone, AKA- Clem Burke from Blondie. Though, he doesn't cover to much of Richie, or the pre-Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy grouping- Richi. But if you read Dee Dee's autobiography, he explains some about Richi, and the "Hey Ho Let's Go" book mentions him to.

After reading all English written Ramones books, I've classified them all as "Band Related"- mainly diving into what went on between everyone as time's went by, "Media Related"- primarily focused on what happened around the band before it came about, while they were together, and what they influenced in this world; also tapping in on record sales, videos made, and such.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stevo(toohectic@hotmail.com) on December 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
Hearing the story of the Ramones is something I've looked forward to. And this is a fair telling of it. The writing verges at points of irritatiing congratulating tripe. During the first chapter there are so many "To take from there famous song..." and "To quote from..." that I wanted to quit right there. I want the story not a lot of fan boy c**p. Once into it however the story smooths out. A lot of great info and pictures. Overall recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is the book that any Ramones fan in the world would be anxious to read. A complete view into the most famous punk-rock band life through 20 years. You simply can't be a Ramones fan and do not read this book. It made me happy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
While the book is worth reading once to catch some interesting tidbits, Spellman is a mediocre writer. For instance, he several times refers to The Ramones as "the Grateful Dead of punk," which really doesn't make much sense. Both bands were together for a long time but the similarities pretty much end there. Are there many essential Ramones albums? Yes. Is this their essential biography? No.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Chips on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Bessman wrote this book in collaboration with all of the Ramones while they were still alive. Because of the Ramones close involvement, it predictably skirts some sticky issues -- like Joey losing his girlfriend to Johnny and Dee Dee's teenage hustling -- but tackles others head-on, like Dee Dee's substance abuse. It does come off as fannish; there are a lot of sentences that end with exclamation marks!

While not as great as the other documents of the 70's New York punk scene -- Heylin's "From the Velvets to the Voidoids" or Kozak's "This ain't no disco" or especially McNeil's "Please kill me" -- this does have a lot of information about the Ramones that is missing from the aforementioned books. However, the better and more up-to-date book is Porter's "Ramones: the complete twisted history."
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book gives you the essential history of the Ramones. Not many other bands would right down important dates in their careers, but fortunately for us Johnny Ramone kept a good log of historical dates. This book is a must read for the informational part of it. As well as the pictures inside the book show you how the Ramones never sold out to any fashions trends.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By karl turner on December 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
While full of facts and history, The Ramones : An American Band seems to have been written by the band's biggest fan. Usually, that would at least provide some first person perspective. However, in this case, it falls somewhat flat as the writer appears to be a drooling sycophant. That itself makes it a somewhat unintersting read, as even tragedies and misfortunes are sterilized so much that the reader can't even feel them.
The most significant problem with this book is that founding member and collaberator Dee Dee Ramone, was not interviewed for it, rather his quotes were lifted from other sources. Known by fans and critics alike as the "heart & soul" of the Ramones, his perspective is sorely missed, and it is noted in this book that he was, at the time of publication, writing his own account. That account eventually was released as Lobotomy : Survivng the Ramones, which this writer highly recommends, as the good, the bad and the ugly are exposed and allowed to be felt to the fullest !
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Fagan on May 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book does not provide any useful information about The Ramones. One of music's most pivotal bands deserves more than the brief overview Bressman offers. He has the reader believe that through good times and bad these guys always loved each other-anyone see Dee Dee at the rock and roll hall of fame ceremony?
American Band is like a thin sandwich. What you get is a year by year account from 1974 to 1992 with very little to chew on in between.
Read Dee Dee's books if you want more information-if you can follow his train of thought. 'Please Kill Me' is a good starting point if you want to get a good overview of the whole punk phenom.
American Band's saving point-it had some pictures I hadn't seem before.
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