'Ramones: It's Alive 1974-1996'
(The Ramones, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2007 / Rhino Records)
Overview: Punk forefathers Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky, Richie, and C-Jay Ramone outlasted almost every one of their legions of followers. For over twenty years, they delivered their signature garage-flavored, ear-shattering chainsaw level and pop-skewed sound through a string of now-classic, loud-and-fast punk rock LPs, and 2,263 concerts together. This new two DVD set captures the essence of the legendary racket they made with over four hours of rare and previously unreleased live footage that's the closest you can get to experiencing this blitzkrieg of a band.
DVD Verdict: It's indeed a shame that this will never happen again. We'll never see these guys take the stage, never hear Dee Dee count in that first tune. We won't get slammed by the sheer volume and power of it all. We won't get to hear Joey's between-song banter and think, "didn't he say exactly the same thing before this song the last time they were here?"
But even with three Ramones gone for good, THE RAMONES live on, larger and more famous than they were in life, their tunes in a million movies and TV ads, their T-shirts now worn by, well, pretty much everybody. Which brings us to this big, reasonably priced 2-DVD set of Ramones live footage from damn near the very beginning of their career to damn near the very end. Over the course of about four hours (!!!), we see the band's evolution from scrappy up and comers at CBGB to consummate pros filling a stadium somewhere in South America. But take heart: whether they were playing to 60,000 people in 1996 or a few dozen in 1974, these guys - save for the early stage screwups - BARELY CHANGED AT ALL. In other words, they got it right early on and knew better than to ruin a good thing.
The sheer volume of material makes this set a solid winner, but it's those little moments and details that diehard fans will love most. The chance to see Johnny play a guitar other than his white or blue Mosrite. Getting to hear/see such seldom-performed-live classics as "Needles & Pins," "Don't Come Close" and "I Want You Around." Watching the evolution of Dee Dee's hair. The cornerstone of the whole thing, though, is the multi-song segment of the band's performance in London on New Year's Eve, 1977 - the concert during which the 2-LP "It's Alive" was recorded. Thirty years after the fact, we get the visuals to go along with one of the greatest live albums ever recorded, and they represent the Ramones at perhaps their very peak. Footage of dozens of other concerts and TV appearances varies in quality, but there's a treasure trove of good stuff to be found.
And as for the lower-quality footage? That shot-on-video, black & white stuff with the crappy sound? Hey, it's still the Ramones! Which, of course, makes it cooler than pretty much anything else out there right now. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Super Rare Music Videos
And Much, Much More!