“The End Of the Century” tells the thirty year adventure of the Ramones, a punk rock band consisting of four outcast kids from Queens New York with matching bowl haircuts and leather jackets. Yet somehow armed with limited musical ability and songs such as “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue,” The Ramones became one of the most influential musical entities in the history of music up there with The Beatles and The Stones.
Directed by filmmakers Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia “The End Of The Century” takes us on the roller coaster ride that has been the Ramones’ career.
“The End Of The Century” begins with the Ramones’ early days in the ‘70s as part of a burgeoning New York punk scene that also included Blondie and the Talking Heads. But as those bands became mainstream and immensely successful the Ramones stuck with their three-chord pop influenced punk and remained on the fringes of the music industry. Next stop for the Ramones is England where members of the Clash, The Sex Pistols and the Damned all credit the Ramones for jumpstarting the punk rock explosion in England.
One of the more interesting things you quickly pick up on from the
interviews and file footage of the four members Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee
and Tommy (who all adopted the last name Ramone as a sign of unity) is just how divergent each one of their personalities are. Lead singer Joey is a quite, awkward hopeless romantic with a heart of gold. Bassist Dee Dee is the clichéd rock star that indulges in every excess available. Guitarist Johnny is the cold-hearted taskmaster that handles the band’s business and rules with an iron fist. Tommy the drummer, is the introverted musical theorist of the group.
As the constant touring continues into the ‘80s the Ramones continue
flirting with mainstream success at every turn yet somehow it always
eludes them. They make the classic punk rock film “Rock & Roll High School”, they record with uber-producer Phil Spector and they continue to play their a***s off, yet nothing seems to change for the Ramones. They look the same, play the same and stick to their guns as they never really reach the levels of success their hard work deserves. But that’s part of the Ramones charm is that they’re loveable losers.
As the pressures of touring for years takes its toll on the band,
drummers start to come and go, as does Joey’s health. But this is the Ramones and they press on. One of the more interesting revelations we learn about the group is that a feud existed for many years between Joey and Johnny over what else but, a girl. After viewing interviews about the feud you’ll finally figure out just what the lyrics to “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” are really about.
There are interesting interviews aplenty here from current stars like
Rob Zombie and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) about how influential the
Ramones were to almost everyone that’s picked up a guitar in the last 25 years or so. But the best interviews are the actual band members themselves who hold nothing back and are obviously not afraid to speak their minds. The interviews with Dee Dee Ramone are worth the price of admission alone.
“The End Of The Century is necessary viewing for any music fan.