Early 90’s Ramones is a heady mix of metal guitars and punk rock heart. They’re not in the best of shape by 1992. Dee Dee is no longer playing in the band but he did write Poison Heart the single from the album Mondo Bizarro. Slower and croonier than most Ramones singles, legend has it that Dee Dee exchanged the song with his former band members as part of a deal to get bail posted and him sprung from jail.
Dee Dee wrote it and so many classic punk alumni were impressed by it the track has been covered by Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys, that Finnish fella who makes records as H.I.M and P. Paul Fenech of Ramones influencers The Meteors.
“No one ever thought this one would survive, helpless child, gonna walk a drum beat behind, lock you in a dream, never let you go, never let you laugh or smile, not you.”
I love Joey’s vocals on this one. After all I said about Frank Sinatra and New York and crooning lacking sincerity the other day, there’s this. He always wanted to be a big star. He always wanted to be mainstream legitimate famous. He always wanted to be a household name. It just took a decade or two after his death for the universal agreement that they were truly the best we could have ever had.
“You know that life really takes its toll and a poet’s gut reaction is to search his very soul, so much damn confusion before my eyes, but nothing seems to phase me and this one still survives.”
I do this every time I post a Ramones song. They should have been the biggest band in the world, they were after all the best. Instead they struggled for decades until the Metalheads, Motorheads, Grungers, Pearl Jammers and the 90’s alternative scene held them up as elder statesmen of so much that had gone before.
Poison Heart is a real highlight from late in their career. It stands out on their retrospective box set Weird Tales Of Ramones as a high water mark of that era. It has a promo video and a real weight behind it that many Ramones classics didn’t get. The fact Joey gets to be all cool and croonerish on the track like he tried back in the End Of The Century days just makes it all the cooler. No longer fixated with Basements, Glue, Punk Girls or Chainsaws. This ones about the human condition.
“Well, I just want to walk right out of this world, ‘Cause everybody has a poison heart”
If there was a fire in my record collection and I had to save only one item, I’d grab Weird Tales Of Ramones.