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Classic Album Review: Various Artists | We’re A Happy Family: A Tribute To The Ramones

Despite an A-list roster, few of these covers capture the originals' mook-rock majesty.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


If ever there was a band that’s endlessly imitated but never duplicated, it’s The Ramones. And if ever there was an album that proves it, it’s the Ramones tribute We’re A Happy Family.

Despite — or maybe due to — a roster of A-list talent, few of these 17 covers capture the elusive mook-rock majesty of da brudders. Most play it too straight — U2 (Beat On The Brat), Garbage (I Just Wanna Have Something To Do), Green Day (Outsider), Metallica (53rd & 3rd) and (why, Lord, why?) KISS (Rock ’n’ Roll Radio) try but fail to squeeze their soft, fame-fattened bellies into the boys’ crusty leather jackets. Others fare no better by altering the design to their own styles — Red Hot Chili Peppers funkify Havana Affair, Rob Zombie redraws Blitzkrieg Bop as cartoon-metal and Marilyn Manson lobotomizes The KKK Took my Baby Away. Only a handful find that balance between idolatry and inspiration — Eddie Vedder and Zeke deliver rough-hewn versions of I Believe In Miracles and Daytime Dilemma, Rancid lacerate Sheena Is A Punk Rocker and Tom Waits burns the hoodoo down on The Return Of Jackie And Judy. We bet they have Joey and Dee Dee smiling wherever they are. And the rest, well, hopefully they’ll earn enough dough to please Johnny and Marky.