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on August 18, 2005
If you don't know a lot about the Ramones, some of the other reviewers provide a very accurate account. But if you are already a Ramones fan - then you know the history, the impact, the sound, the look, the realism - and I know you are going to keep your original LP's, but this package will keep you entertained for, well, as long as the materials hold up. 85 songs! The 3 CD's hold a whopping 25 to 34 songs each. Plus there is a DVD that plays their music videos with only short attention span commentaries and interviews in between. The comic book captures the essence of the Ramones, and changes style enough to keep you turning the pages and laughing along the way. If you are here reading these reviews, that's enough for me to be able to tell you in confidence, "go ahead and get it, you will love it, you will experience premium nostalgic fun."
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on August 18, 2005
I'm not even going to attempt to defend my adulation of the Ramones or define their cultural importance, since a great many have already done so here. Rather, I think it important to point out the only major flaw with the set: the selection of post-TOO TOUGH TO DIE songs. This set was compiled by Johnny Ramone, and the third disc of the set reflects his bias (and I say this with the utmost respect; Johnny Ramone was perhaps the most perfect rock n roll guitarist since Chuck Berry). Strangely, he opted to include such dreck as Dee Dee's "Love Kills" (from ANIMAL BOY), an ode to Sid and Nancy which I've always felt greatly diminished the Ramones' punk authority, and marked the unfortunate downslide in Dee Dee's songwriting abilities (other Dee Dee songs, especially "Poison Heart" from MONDO BIZARRO, are still painful to listen to, and difficult to justify). Further, the inclusion of so many C.J.-sung songs, rather than the still-great Joey tunes on ADIOS AMIGOS is inexplicable, especially the execrable "Scattergun" (at least "Life's A Gas" and "Spiderman" are included). Lastly, HALFWAY TO SANITY and BRAIN DRAIN, their two most consistent late-period albums, are inexplicably under-represented.

The point of this gripe is simply to point out a missed opportunity; everybody already knows by now that the first four albums are peerless, even if they don't "get" the Ramones. The misguided survey of their waning years only furthers the assumption that they went downhill precipitously after 1984 (which is somewhat true, yet predominantly exaggerated). I can't help but wonder what it would have been like had Joey and Johnny been forced to collaborate on this compilation. If nothing else, it would have been more balanced.

Otherwise, the remastering sounds great (a further improvement over the already-wonderful album reissues) and the comic book is ingenious.
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on August 18, 2005
Let's be straight about it: all these tunes have come out before. Most of them have been repackaged a few times in a few different configurations. If you're a major Ramones fan, there's probably nothing here you haven't seen or heard.

But then, if you're a major Ramones fan, none of this matters; you want pretty much anything you can find related in any way to the Ramones. If you DON'T have all these songs, it doesn't matter either. So let's dispense with any handwringing over whether this box set is really necessary. Hey, pizza isn't really necessary either, but aren't you glad it exists? Thought so.

So let's cut to the chase. This set, you see, serves a higher purpose than just placing dozens of GREAT Ramones tunes onto a new batch of plastic discs. It serves a higher purpose than mere commerce. This set is about cementing and furthering the legacy of one of the rarest, most endangered beasts in the history of rock & roll: the Perfect Band.

The Perfect Band, after all, must possess every last piece of the rock puzzle. Its members must all be cool in their own way. They must all have their own, distinct personalities and charisma. They don't have to be individually handsome or pretty, but they must look good together. As far as the music goes, the playing of the members must serve the song and must NEVER become the focal point INSTEAD of the song. The Perfect Band must function as a unit with each member making a viable contribution to the group's overall sound and image. The Perfect Band absolutely MUST have the capacity to come up with one great song after another. In fact, the Perfect Band must have dozens and dozens of great songs under its belt.

With so many prerequisites, it's little wonder that there's only been a tiny handful of Perfect Bands in the history of rock & roll. The Beatles - especially in their early years - are an obvious example. The Stones are another, though their Perfect status was on vacation when the too-well-scrubbed Mick Taylor was in the fold. The Who? Maybe early on. The Beach Boys? Yes, but only before they started growing beards. The Kinks? Great band, not perfect. The Ramones? You bet your leather jacket, baby.

But to get to the point - and it is coming - of why this box set is worthwhile, it's important to note that the other Perfect Bands in rock all sold MILLIONS of records. These bands were/are absolutely huge. They filled stadiums, fer chrissakes. But the Ramones? Ah, commercial success was in shorter supply for the Fast Four than for the Fab Four, wasn't it? You know the story: no hit singles, no gold records (save for their collection, "RamonesMania"), no stadium tours - at least not in these United States. So, while other Perfect Bands became a part of the cultural landscape via radio play and selling LOTS of records, the Ramones did it by earning their fans one at a time. Fortunately for all of us, those fans have added up over the years, and they've rarely defected. They've continued to add up thanks - in some measure - to the steady availability and reissuing of Ramones music. Thus the viability of an 85-song Ramones retrospective such as this.

Oh, sure there will be cynics. Some folks see any repackaging such as this as nothing more than crass commercialism - an affront to their punk rock sensibilities! But just think of that one kid out there whose dad buys this set just for old time's sake. Just think of that kid getting that same rush you got the first time you heard "Loudmouth." Or "Havana Affair." Or "I Don't Want You." Or "She's the One." Or, heck, about a hundred other Ramones songs that flat WAILED but never got to be hits, even by Ramone standards. Think of that kid discovering a band that doesn't have just three or four really good songs, but DOZENS of really good songs. And think of that kid figuring out that, hey, this punk rock stuff didn't start with Blink 182. It didn't even start with the Sex Pistols or the Clash. IT STARTED WITH THE RAMONES!!!

So, yes, you already have this music. But if you're a true Ramones fan, you won't care. You'll dig the comic book, the packaging. You'll dig that there's still SOMETHING you can get and be excited about related to a band you love. You'll dig that a set like this confirms that the Ramones have become huge after all (something - if you're really a fan - you were praying for throughout their career). You'll dig that after all these years, other people still care about the Ramones. And most of all, you'll dig that somewhere along the line, this set is going to give some kid his first blast of, say, "Carbona Not Glue." Hey, maybe that kid will even start a band some day.
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on August 10, 2005
Well what can you say about the Ramones? They are the TRUE Godfathers of punk rock. The originals. Forget all the hu-bub about whether Sex Pistols or Ramones came first. Track the bands releases and live shows back to the 70's and you'll see the Ramones were the first and best. Anyone framiliar with the current crop of pop-punk and skate-punk music has to know that this is where it started!

And, finally, a box set. Why it took almost 30 years for this to hit the shelves I don't know. Nor do I care, because here it is. This was the last thing Joey Ramone had a hand in for his band before his death. Now, the cd's included feature every popular and recognizable Ramone song including some songs that weren't quite as popular but were just as good. It also features some unreleased remixes of a couple of songs on disc 2. Interesting, but not as cool as the originals. Also included is a DVD with some video and live performances. Finally, as a bonus treat, the first ever Ramones comic book. The art is amazing, the story, funny and interesting.

If you're a huge Ramones fan, you probably already have this, if not and you have a few extra bucks (40 or 50), trust me, punk rock would not exist in its current fashion today, without the Ramones.

CD's: 5 stars

DVD: 4 stars

Comic Book: 5 stars
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on January 27, 2006
One of the best anthologies I've ever seen. The comic book was such a unique twist (I never manage to get through biographies and histories like those in the Nuggets collection, also by Rhino) and it was chock-full of interesting facts, jokes, good art, and otherwise worth-buying stuff. There were very few -- if any -- favorite songs of mine that were missing, and the only ones that I thought perhaps shouldn't have been included were some of the ones from the Age of CJ. Sorry, but Poison Heart is downright death metal compared to 53rd and 3rd. I found the videos amusing, particularly Something to Believe in, which parodied Hands Across America.

If you're thinking "I already own all the albums and Lifestyles of The Ramones," just get the anthology for the comic book, because it still puts me in stitches every time I read it.
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on August 16, 2005
I didn't expect much before I bought this. I thought it was a waste of money becuase I already had "Hey Ho, Let's Go: The Ramones Anthology". And I don't think this should've been released because that was already out. I thought it's just another disc with a DVD and that they should've released a box-set with all the Ramones albums. The re-master versions. I still think they should've done that. But I am a hardcore Ramones fan so I had to have this in my hands. The first thing I poped in was the DVD. The DVD is awesome. Every single Ramones video made. Except for "Touring", which is on the "Raw" DVD. And maybe another video. I didn't know that "Life stlyes of the Ramones"(which was originally released in 1990" had interviews. It's great seeing Johnny being interviewed in the dugot of the Yankee's stadium. George Seminara(director) said "Johnny still wasn't satisfied". The Second thing I looked at was the comic book. The comic book is really great and has some funny moments. It comes with 3D glasses, which is really cool but after a while you get a headache. I think it would've been better if the comic book was more longer and talked more about the whole history of the Ramones. It talks about the beggining a little bit at first but then it just gets out of order. There is around 30 songs here that are not on the Ramones anthology. And I think "I don't wanna walk around with you" and "Today your love, tomorrow the world" are better songs the "Loudmout" and "Havanna Afair". 85 songs that Johnny Ramone compiled before he died. He made quite a collection. I don't think there's really much of any songs missing besides the one I mention. I also think "I can't make it on time" is better than "I'm affected". But over all I don't think Ramones fans will not be dissapointed when they open this.
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on August 15, 2005
Sure... we have 'Loud Fast Ramones'... and we have 'Anthology'... and we have 'Mania' (which I'm puzzled why it's still in print)... however, whenever I bought one of these records, the question was always raised "Why isn't :::insert song here::: on this record?" 'Weird Tales of the Ramones' brings you ALL the great tracks, fully remastered and sounding great. That means I can FINALLY have a remastered version of 'Love Kills' since it seems that the 'Animal Boy' record is never going to be expanded and remastered. These songs are great and they sounds great. My only gripe is the abscense of a few b-sides that were previously only available on vinyl, such as 'Go Home Ann.' Maybe another time, somewhere down the line.

On top of that, we finally have 'Lifestyles of the Ramones' on DVD... still as cheesy as ever, but still a fun trip... especially with the added videos from the Radioactive Records years.

And if that wasn't enough, the Graphic Novel is stunning. It looks so great, so very very cool... it fits the vibe of the Ramones and takes it to a new level. By far one of the best box sets I've ever purchased.
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on December 13, 2005
No, you're not imagining things. That hollow sound you're hearing is Sire and Rhino scraping the bottom of the Ramones barrel and coming up empty.

Other than remastered, expanded editions of "Acid Eaters," "Adios Amigos," "Animal Boy," "Halfway To Sanity," "Mondo Bizarro," and "Brain Drain," it's strictly "been there, done that" on the repackaging front, the band's notoriously spartan way of conducting business not inspiring any search and recovery missions for dusty, eroding analog tapes.

If recent photos are any indication, however, that's not to say there's no surprises concealed in Phil Spector's hair. All those takes of "Rock 'N' Roll High School's" opening power chord he forced Johnny to endure would fill a few box sets of their own, a la the Stooges' "1970: The Complete Fun House Sessions."

I'd be the last to suggest they don't deserve it, but "Weird Tales Of The Ramones" appears to be nothing more than an attempt to pad the coffers of the estates of the three deceased members of the band and the three yet to check into the wooden Waldorf.

And I paid for it with my own money.

The ability to separate schmoes like myself from hard-earned greenbacks for music we already own in a different wrapper is what makes the souls of companies like Rhino, Castle, Sanctuary, and my personal favorite - Captain Oi! - so dark. In all fairness to Rhino, however, the Ramones are an easy sell and those likely to buy this four-disc box (three CD's and one DVD) probably won't need to be strongarmed. If the band's high-speed crack-up of three chords and blissful bubblegum aesthetic doesn't leave you inspired and grinning like an idiot, you've got a hole in your soul.

Nearly 30 years after that first album baffled so many clueless radio programmers and hippies who refused to believe the sun had finally set on the summer of love, with nothing more than a brace of songs gestated in suburbia about diversions like television, huffing model airplane cement, and adolescent attitude adjustment with Louisville Sluggers, the Ramones canon still tastes as fresh as a just-cracked bottle of Yoo Hoo, almost magical in its power to remedy whatever may be laying you low, capable of blasting you outside of yourself, making you feel super-alive and able to pretend this moment/hour/day/night is the rest of your life. What else in the realm of the living or dead really matters?

It's a testimony to the Ramones' savant-like flair for consistently delivering the sonic goods that things don't really start to flag here until late in Disc 3, but with the exception of "Mondo Bizarro," I've never really been a much of a believer in the C.J.-era songwriting anyway so that may just be my tough luck.

The DVD is all gravy, although most of it will be familiar to owners of "Lifestyles Of The Ramones" on VHS. And while most videos in general leave me perplexed, the clip for the cover of The Who's "Substitute" scales new heights of incomprehensibility; something to do with a cave dweller who dreams of picking up hot babes while masquerading as fat Elvis, encountering The Cramps and Michael Berryman from "The Hills Have Eyes" along the way. Conversely, "I Don't Want Wanna Grow Up" and "Spiderman" are the embodiment of truth in marketing, da bruddahs finding themselves reincarnated as comic book and animated cartoon characters, respectively.

As with any Rhino project, the packaging is impeccable and for long-time fans may be the only reason to spring for this one, if a 50-page, oversized comic book featuring the art of Sergio Aragones, Bill Griffith, John Holmstrom, Mary Fleener, Xaime Hernandez and others turns your crank that is.

By this time, it's probably safe to answer Dick Miller's puzzled question in "Rock & Roll High School" that yes, their parents do know they are/were Ramones. "Weird Tales" does its damnedest to let the rest of the world in on the secret, offering up a golden ticket into their hermetically-sealed universe of celebratory dysfunction. Hardly essential for the faithful, but a tantalizing little package for collector scum.
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on November 13, 2005
First of all I wanna point out how silly it is for Hunk of @$$ to say "Punk rock aint meant to be remastered" that is one of the most ridiculous comments Ive ever read.I dont know what your idea of punk is but it definatly wasn't meant to sound like it was recorded under water. Obviously older bands remaster their albums because they are now capable of bringing out the sound that was intended to at the time but because technology back then wasn't as good were unable to.

The music itself was not changed at all and the remastering only brings out the better sound quality. As for the box set itself I think they did a great job with the songs, most of their best songs are here and the extra stuff like the comic and video's makes it worth getting even if you already own every Ramones album.
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on August 16, 2005
As a history of the Ramones music this item is not your best bet. It puts even focus on their whole career. Thier early albumns laid a groundwork for the music that we hear today and it would have been nice to have more of the early stuff { today your love, tommorrow the world, etc.) on the cd. If you are looking for an introduction to the Ramones it would be better to get one of the many compilations that are out there. The DVD has alot of their videos on it and added some to the Lifestyles of the ramones video that was previously available. The selling point for this item is the great comic book that comes with it. In the other compilations that are available someone always wrote a tribute to the ramones and gave some background. This is trully a unique item to find in a box set. Anyone who is familliar with the music will love the comic and that makes this set worth buying.
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