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Rock N Roll High School

July 19, 2011 | Format: MP3

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2:22
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By T. Fisher VINE VOICE on July 21, 2011
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I really love Shonen Knife. I haven't bought any of their records for many years now, but I have several and they are among my favorites from the late 1990s or so. Here they bring their particular brand of hybrid Japanese cuteness and toughness to this Ramone's classic, but in the end they stay pretty true to the original.

And that's the problem that keeps this back from being among the best Shonen Knife material. Does anyone remember their cover of "Top of the World" by the Carpenters from the tribute album If I Were a Carpenter? That was brilliant because Shonen Knife brought their punk-inspired driving guitars and rhythms to a song that was originally from the opposite, laid-back, easy-listening end of the pop spectrum. The cover version actually had a transformative effect.

Here, we have a nice cover version by a great band of a classic song by another great band, delivered in a highly similar style. Shonen Knife's affinity with the Ramones makes it tough for them to bring anything really new to the tune -- beyond the cuter, Japanese girl band voice and vibe.

Good, glad to have it, but it doesn't go to 11 or anything.
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"Rock N Roll High School" by the Ramones is a upbeat, pop-punk song of mild teenage angst. Shonen Knife has covered it faithfully here, but not brought anything new to it. Except for the female voices, there is very little difference between this cover and the original. Shonen Knife presents the lyrics with a straightforward delivery that doesn't suit the song's fun-loving vibe; I get the feeling they were spitting the words out more than trying to capture their feel. It's not bad, but there's absolutely nothing special here.
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No one, I repeat, no one can do the Ramones as good as the RAMONES. And every Ramones tribute I have heard for the most part really sucks and are just awful. Except The Queers, Screeching Weasel and now this - Shonen Knife's excellent homage. They pay the Ramones a great deal of respect by doing the songs justice and it'll have you singing along and worth the buy - Shonen Knife is just a fun band in general, if you dig female Japanese rock!
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We hear sometimes about how very many Japanese people loved the music of Elvis. Well, apparently for the members of Shonen Knife, their idols were the Ramones. This track is a pretty faithful rendition of "Rock 'n' Roll High School," with a few slight differences such as a greater presence of harmonies, and the lyrics are sung with a cute Japanese accent! However, the Knife ladies also seem to have taken the bite and muscle out of this song, maybe because the guitars are more toned down or something. The Ramones usually sounded ANGRY when they played and sang; these ladies merely sound like they're having fun. It sorta robs the song of its power.
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