Shonen Knife - Osaka Ramones
Japanese punk-poppers cover their Ramones heroes
Having been around in one form or another for 30 years now, Shonen Knife have decided to celebrate their anniversary with an album-length tribute to the band that made them pick up guitars in the first place. Quite what Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee would make of the result is cause for chin-stroking conjecture: no doubt they’d be happy that the punk spirit is being kept alive and well, and straddling the East-West cultural divide to boot; but the crisp, clean production and the diamond-edged precision of the band’s time-keeping are a world away from the rough and ready CBGB aesthetic.
For the bulk of the album, this difference in tone presents no problem: tracks such as ‘Rockaway Beach’ and ‘Rock’n’roll High School’ are given a new lease of life with the added surf-pop element that Shonen Knife provide. Some of the big guns, though – ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ in particular – are a little too clipped in their delivery, and lack the grit and grime that made the originals such essential listening. Given that Shonen Knife have a full on side-project dedicated to Ramones covers, it’s reasonable to hope that the raw energy of the New York punks is recaptured in live shows.