It’s Alive: 40 years on from the Ramones’ game changing live album

Innovation throughout music’s timeline has appeared in a magnitude of forms at the most unexpected occasions. Whether it be the unrivalled emergence of genres, the industry altering invention of CD’s or the rise of festivals, every component of the music industry has adapted to endure. However, far fewer cases of innovation have directly emanated from music’s lifeblood, the musicians themselves. A near trace amount of bands in history can truly claim to have redefined or reshaped the foundations entirely. From the Rolling Stones fully embracing the power of concerts to Radiohead revealing the potential of free music, changing the world doesn’t happen often. But, on 1977 New Years Eve at the Rainbow Theatre, London, 3,000 people witnessed one of Punk’s most crucial moments, even if nobody could understand how iconic it was at the time.

Fast-forward to 1st April, 1979, to see the Ramones officially release Ed Stasium’s produced recordings of their London New Years Eve show as a fully fledged live album simply titled, ‘It’s Alive’. In hindsight, 1977 was the biggest year of the Ramones career and ‘It’s Alive’ was able to vividly capture the essence, passion and raw adrenaline of their captivating live presence at their prime. Being Ramones benchmark year with a UK tour and two timeless, genre encapsulating records, it seems criminal to think they were playing venues of lower-medium capacities. Reflecting their underrated status as a band both then and now, these smaller venue shows evidently proved to be ideal to emphasise the high energy Punk sound. When listening to ‘It’s Alive’, you can still sense the overwhelming powder-keg atmosphere, nearly causing the Rainbow Theatre to burst at the seams. The live album captures the monumental conviction of the night but, the surreal intimacy of the occasion also.

A thunderous and iconic ‘one, two, three, four!’ is sent beckoning around the venue by Dee Dee Ramone at the top of the set. Tireless and enthralling performances of ‘Rockaway Beach’ and ‘Teenage Lobotomy’ effortlessly conjoin in hellacious harmony. The whine of feedback, plucks of guitar picks and immense precision show the perfect imperfections of the Ramones’ performance. ‘Hey Ho! Let’s Go!’ No rest at all as Joey immediately leads the ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ assault in the famed two-minutes of fury fashion that defined the Ramones. ‘Glad to See You Go’, ‘Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment’, ‘Commando’ and other Punk classics are deafeningly executed at relentless pace, as the Ramones put on one of Punk’s greatest ever recorded live shows.

If the Ramones were still alive today, they would easily be consistent arena headliners. With performances such as the ‘It’s Alive’ scorcher hardly being irregular occurrences for them, it’s almost unbelievable to imagine they weren’t held to that stature in their heyday, or ever for that matter. But, the fact of the matter is, ‘It’s Alive’ has been making 40 years worth of Punk fans say to themselves ‘I wish I had been there to see that!’, and it’s iconic status doesn’t look like wavering any time soon.

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