Home Read Albums Of The Week: Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music | Variants Of Vibe

Albums Of The Week: Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music | Variants Of Vibe

The veteran New York rocker finally takes center stage with his first solo release.

Let’s just get it out of the damn way right off the bat: Yes, Mickey Leigh is the little brother of Johnny Ramone. Yes, their voices sound similar. And yes, there are a couple of songs on his new album Variants Of Vibe that would not be out of place on an LP by his late sibling’s band.

But what else would you expect? After all, Leigh was basically the fifth Ramone. He was in a teenage combo with Johnny and Tommy long before Joey came along. He sang backup on The Ramones’ first album. He was the band’s roadie for years. And he contributed to plenty of Ramones songs over the years. So if anybody is fully entitled to carry that particular torch, it’s him.

But here’s the rub: Leigh is no one-trick pony. No coattail rider. And Variants Of Vibe is no Ramones tribute. If anything, this raucous and rambunctious album — which combines new songs with recently recorded versions of songs culled from his long and varied career — is a tribute to the music he (and Joey) listened to, learned from and loved. In keeping with its title, its 14 songs will also appeal to fans of The Stooges, The Who, ? And The Mysterians, The Monkees, The Dead Boys, Suicide, Johnny Thunders, Billy Idol, Jim Carroll and even Tom Petty and Simon and Garfunkel. Mostly, though, it will appeal to anyone who wants to hear timeless rock ’n’ roll played the way it oughta be: Fast, loud, loose and with plenty of attitude. That’s why Variants Of Vibe is an album that both defies and exceeds your expectations. And an album might finally help him get out of the long, tall shadow of you-know-who.

For more from Mickey Leigh, check out my exclusive in-depth interview HERE.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Though Mickey Leigh has been making music for over five decades, Variants Of Vibe is his first solo release, the first album to feature his name on the cover — and his first disc with his band Mutated Music.

Growing up the younger brother of Joey Ramone, Leigh started his first band in 1964 at the age of 10, and by the age of 14, he was in a band with John Cummings and Tommy Erdelyi — the future Johnny and Tommy Ramone. He has been an instrumental figure in the New York punk scene ever since, founding the bands Birdland (with notorious rock critic Lester Bangs), The Rattlers, Sibling Rivalry (with his brother Joey), STOP and plenty more.

In 2020, he finally decided to step out on his own and begin releasing tracks with Wicked Cool Records, the label owned and operated by Stevie Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Disciples of Soul, The Sopranos).

Of the upcoming album, he adds, “Like every organic entity, music is perpetually re-adapting itself in order to survive = mutating. As we know, things we create also variate as they mutate. Mutated Music is what we are. Our new album presents Variants Of Vibe. This may sound complicated, but, it’s only rock ’n’ roll. We love it and don’t want to see it become extinct! Mutated Music = Rescuing Rock ’n’ Roll, One Song At a Time.”

In addition to his music, Leigh is the executive producer of the upcoming Netflix movie based on his book I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Memoir. The book is based on his experience growing up in Forest Hills, Queens. The movie stars Pete Davidson as Joey Ramone.

With the return of live shows to New York City, Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music looks forward to playing gigs around the city and beyond.”