On the first day of October 1984 The Ramones released their 8th studio album Too Tough To Die. Only a year and a half had passed since the bands preceding album Subterranean Jungle but the album is a re-invention and revelation in equal measure.
With Tommy Ramone on production duties it does indeed give off the vibe that The Ramones were back. The album sees Dee Dee Ramone at his most productive ever and he plays a part in no fewer than nine songs (songwriting).
The album sees the Ramones venture into their most hardcore ever sound but also delivers some of their most accesible material too.
The cover of the album suggests the Ramones were back and meaning business. Of course the band could never top their groundbreaking debut LP but Too Tough To Die is a far, far better album than it had the right to be.
Mama’s Boy (Dee Dee, Johnny, Tommy) has a rolling relentless and heavy sound. It is punchy and veers between punk and at times almost metal too. Joey, as always, sounds supreme.
I’m Not Afraid Of Life (Dee Dee) is slow yet damn assured. It has a clear ‘Ramones’ sound but also embraces the rock sound of the mid-80’s.
Too Tough To Die (Dee Dee) kicks off with the trademark ‘1-2-3-4’. It is fast but not too fast. Cute dumb lyrics flow with an at times stuttering delivery from Joey.
Durango 95 (Johnny) is an instrumental that the band would use to intro gigs for years after the albums release. I still cannot work out to this day why the album does not kick off with this track.
Wart Hog (Dee Dee, Johnny) and the Ramones go as fast, if not faster than we have heard them go before. Ludicrous yet brilliant vocal style from Dee Dee. The song could not sit on any other Ramones album – here it fits, can’t say why – it just does.
Danger Zone (Dee Dee, Johnny) is another speed burst. Joey gets on the mic and it is catchy, solid, frantic and serves to sum up the album thus far. Johnny even sneaks in a brief guitar solo.
Chasing The Night (Joey, Dee Dee, Jones) and the album really goes into overdrive. The song has anthemic qualities and again captures a mid 80’s punk / rock sound like few other bands could. The drums are crystal clear. Joey is fantastic throughout and the track has a rare break down mid point and ventures into pop fare with real ease. A classic.
Howling At The Moon (Sha-La-La) (Dee Dee) keeps the peak of the album going strong. It is probably the best ever song written by Dee Dee Ramone? The instrumentation shows how well the Ramones could actually play. The production is spot on. The vocals are peppered with fantastic lyrics that range from stupid to sublime at any given point / line.
Daytime Dilema (Dangers of Love) (Joey, Rey) cuts somewhat back to a slightly earlier Ramones sound that echoed a Phil Spector style songwriting wise. Again the production keeps the song firmly in the Too Tough To Die stable. It’s another great song.
Planet Earth 1988 (Dee Dee) is a four year look into the future from 1984. The sound again is mid-80’s – yet it is a pure Ramones sound too. Little guitar streaks leak out. The Ramones have changed and incredibly it is not a change for the worse. Bouncy yet solid throughout the song is another near classic.
Humankind (Richie) is fast, knowingly dumb and a rare allowance of Richie Ramone penning a song. It too fits the album even if it not a stand out track. At 2:41 long only a fool would skip it. The album works as a whole. How many albums can you truly say that about?
Endless Vacation (Dee Dee, Johnny) and the speed goes back to overdrive levels. Is this the fastest ever Ramones song? It is up there as one of Dee Dee’s greatest songs and again would only work to this effect on this album.
No Go (Joey) and the album burns out with a straight up rock n’ roll Ramones style nod. It is a punk jive sound that only the Ramones are really qualified to attempt, and of course, they pull it off like only they could…