Subterranean Jungle

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Subterranean Jungle
Studio album by Ramones
Released February 1983
Recorded December 1982, at Kingdom Sound, Syosset, Long Island
Genre Punk rock
Length 33:21
Label Sire
Producer Ritchie Cordell, Glen Kolotkin
Ramones chronology
Pleasant Dreams
(1981)
Subterranean Jungle
(1983)
Too Tough to Die
(1984)
Singles from Subterranean Jungle
  1. "Psycho Therapy"
    Released: 1983
  2. "Time Has Come Today"
    Released: March 1983

Subterranean Jungle is the seventh studio album by the American punk rock band the Ramones, released by Sire Records in February 1983. The album appealed to a hardcore punk rock style rather than featuring several pop oriented pieces; this is due to the fact that guitarist Johnny Ramone received more leeway with steering the overall genre with his hard rock influenced riffs. The recording sessions saw disputes between band members, mainly because many of the band members were dealing with alcohol addiction, or in bassist Dee Dee Ramone's case, cocaine.

The album begins with two cover songs, and features a third on Side B. Lyrics circle various themes, while the structuring of the songs shifted towards hard rock, psychedelic rock. The album was deemed by critics to be an attempt to retreat to the band's roots and received mostly positive reviews. Subterranean Jungle was not very successful commercially, peaking at number 83 on the US Billboard 200 and failing to chart internationally. The singles released from the album did not chart either.

Conception[edit]

Unlike previous albums, Subterranean Jungle shifted the band's sound output focus towards getting back to their punk rock roots, rather than trying to expand fan-base by releasing more pop-oriented songs. This change is due to guitarist Johnny Ramone obtaining more priority over the style choice. Johnny felt as though the band needed to "be focused and stop worrying about getting played [on the radio] and just make a good record."[1] Since lead singer Joey Ramone was not given as much stylistic freedom, the album lacks the sense of pop-influence which previous releases had contained and instead was shaped mostly by Johnny's hard rock background.[1]

I guess I felt a little sort-changed before. I was just writin' a lotta diverse stuff and maybe I felt I was gonna get restricted, I dunno [sic]. Now that we've done it and we've been playing around for about a month, though, we're unanimous. 'Cause it has that real edge again, it has a real powerful sound—somethin' we lost a little on the last two albums.

Joey Ramone[1][2]

Johnny obtained more control over the musical style because the band members experienced conflict amongst themselves, specifically rooted in each member—excluding Johnny—facing issues with addiction. Both Joey and drummer Marky Ramone were dealing with alcoholism, while bassist Dee Dee Ramone was severely addicted to cocaine and was undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment. Since the Ramones' previous two releases had producers which proved dissapointing to the members, they were skeptical of the upcoming producer; this would be Ritchie Cordell, with whom they also had issues with.[3][4] Marky relates: "I hated the production, I hated the producer."[5]

The artwork for Subterranean Jungle features an image of the band outside a subway car. The photograph was taken by George DuBose at the subway station on 57th Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. This cover concept was deemed by Dubose, who suggested that since the B Sixth Avenue Express train stopped at the empty station for about 20 minutes.[6] In the photograph, Marky is featured peering out the subway window—Marky was positioned this way after Johnny asked DuBose to do so because "they were kicking him out of the band, but he didn't know it yet."[7] Marky recalled that he "liked that shot, but [he] knew something was up."[7]

"I was lying on my bed, watching Kojak when Joey calls me and says, 'Mark, I feel bad about this, but, uh, you can't be in the band anymore.' I deserved it. Joey was okay about it, but the others, forget it. No one called me after that. If it was today, Joey would've said, 'Why don't we take off for a month and you get sober?' But I didn't want to tell Joey or the band about my being in rehab, because I would've been admitting my guilt."

—Marky Ramone[7]

The internal conflicts during recording sessions would cause band members to fire Marky during the album's recording, consequently substituting him with drummer Billy Rogers on "Time has Come Today."[5] Johnny recounts, "We were having trouble with Mark because his drinking problem was really bad. So we did "Time Has Come Today" with a different drummer, Billy Rogers, from Walter Lure's band."[8]

Compositions and lyrics[edit]

The album opens with two cover songs; the first, "Little Bit O' Soul," was originally written by John Carter and Ken Lewis and the second, "I Need Your Love," was first preformed by Bobby Dee Waxman. Subterranean Jungle is the first Ramones' release to begin with a song not written by the band—this track list structure was criticized by author Everett True, who said that it was "disorientating."[3] Johnny also thought that the fact that the album consisted of three covers was a bad idea, saying, "we shouldn't have, but I was happy with the guitar sound on it."[8] The album's third track, "Outsider," was written by Dee Dee and in 2002, it was covered by Green Day on Shenanigans.[9] "What'd Ya Do?" was track number four, and was described by music journalist Chuck Eddy as "crudely metallic."[10] Eddy also deemed the next track, "Highest Trails Above," as "AOR-mystic."[10] "Somebody Like Me" was called a "full-on rock anthem" by Everett True, who went on to say that the lyrics contained "no-nonsense lines."[11]

The music featured on Subterranean Jungle was an attempt to return to the band's origins. "Psycho Therapy," which was released on the album, serves as an example of this, and was said by Dave Thompson to be "searing."[12]

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Side B of the album begins with "Psycho Therapy," which was written by both Johnny and Dee Dee; the song has since grown into one of the most popular Ramones' song. Dee Dee recalled: "I knew we needed a real 'Ramones song' for the album, and I knew [Johnny] was depressed about how things were going. He needed that song to get excited about the band again."[2] The next track is another cover song, "Time Has Come Today," which was originally recorded by the soul music group The Chambers Brothers. The Ramones' version of the song featured a psychedelic rock influence, and was said by Eddy to have more of a "garage" feel to it, as compared to the original.[10] "My-My Kind of a Girl" was directed specifically toward the band's female fandom. The lyrics were written by Joey about meeting a girl on 8th Street in Manhattan and wanting to spend his life with her.[5] In Vanity Fair, the song was regarded as a "lingering affection for Phil Spector's pop grandeur."[13] Dee Dee's "Time Bomb," which was track number eleven, was said by True to be "more ridiculous than frightening."[5] The album concludes with "Everytime I Eat Vegetables It Makes Me Think of You," which was said by author Todd Anderson to be a "sing along."[14]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[15]
Robert Christgau A−[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[17]

Subterranean Jungle was released by Sire Records in February 1983.[18] In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music journalist Robert Christgau wrote that despite containing two inferior pieces ("In the Park" and "Time Has Come Today"), the album is "more worthy of an audience than anything they've done in the '80s."[16] Stereo Review magazine strongly recommended it to "headbangers of all ages" as "a textbook Ramones album" whose unintellectual lyrics about mental illness and drug abuse "can actually be refreshing."[19] The album peaked at number 83 in on the Billboard 200 in the US, but failed to chart elsewhere.[20] Neither of the album's singles—"Psycho Therapy" and "Time Has Come Today"—charted.[21]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, author Stephen Thomas Erlewine called Subterranean Jungle the band's "most enjoyable record since Rocket to Russia," and said that the producers "steered the Ramones back toward the '60s pop infatuation that provided the foundation for their early records."[15] He ended his review by stating that it may not be defined as the "strictest sense" of punk rock; however, he strongly suggested that the band had not sounded so "alive" since their earlier days.[15] Douglas Wolk, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), was less enthusiastic and called it an "attempt at radio-friendly production," with a series of cover songs that "almost recasts the group as an oldies act."[17] In a 2004 interview for New York magazine, Johnny Ramone graded the album a "B" and said that he was pleased with its guitar sound, despite the three cover songs, while remarking "I was watching the Brewers-Cardinals World Series when we were recording it."[22]

Track listing[edit]

The following track listing can be verified through the Subterranean Jungle expanded edition liner notes.[23]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Little Bit O' Soul"   Kenneth Hawker, John Shakespeare 2:43
2. "I Need Your Love"   Bobby Dee Waxman 3:03
3. "Outsider"   Dee Dee Ramone 2:10
4. "What'd Ya Do?"   Joey Ramone 2:24
5. "Highest Trails Above"   Dee Dee Ramone 2:09
6. "Somebody Like Me"   Dee Dee Ramone 2:34
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Psycho Therapy"   Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone 2:35
8. "Time Has Come Today" (The Chambers Brothers cover) Willie Chambers, Joseph Chambers 4:25
9. "My-My Kind of a Girl"   Joey Ramone 3:31
10. "In the Park"   Dee Dee Ramone 2:34
11. "Time Bomb"   Dee Dee Ramone 2:09
12. "Everytime I Eat Vegetables It Makes Me Think of You"   Joey Ramone 3:04
2002 Expanded Edition CD (Warner Archives/Rhino) bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
13. "Indian Giver" (Original Mix) Bobby Bloom, Ritchie Cordell, Bo Gentry 2:45
14. "New Girl in Town"   Ramones 3:33
15. "No One to Blame" (Demo) Ramones 2:24
16. "Roots of Hatred" (Demo) Ramones 3:36
17. "Bumming Along" (Demo) Ramones 2:20
18. "Unhappy Girl" (Demo) Ramones 2:20
19. "My-My Kind of Girl" (Acoustic Demo) Joey Ramone 3:10

Personnel[edit]

The following credits are adapted from AllMusic.[15]

Ramones
Additional musicians
  • Walter Lure - extra guitar
  • Billy Rogers - drums on track 8
Production
  • Ritchie Cordell – producer
  • Glen Kolotkin – producer
  • Ron Cote – engineer
  • George DuBose – photography
  • Tony Wright – cover art

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c Bowe 2010, p. 66.
  2. ^ a b Bowe 2010, p. 67.
  3. ^ a b True 2005, p. 177.
  4. ^ Porter 2004, p. 104.
  5. ^ a b c d True 2005, p. 180.
  6. ^ Leigh 2009, pp. 227–228.
  7. ^ a b c Leigh 2009, p. 228.
  8. ^ a b Ramone 2012, ch. 11.
  9. ^ Myers 2006, p. 189.
  10. ^ a b c Eddy 2011, p. 34.
  11. ^ True 2005, p. 179.
  12. ^ Thompson 2000, p. 581.
  13. ^ Vanity Fair (Condé Nast) 46: 34. 1983. 
  14. ^ Anderson 2006, ch. 5.
  15. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Subterranean Jungle – Ramones | Albums | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 26, 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Wolk 2004, p. 675–6.
  18. ^ Ramone 2002, p. 237.
  19. ^ "Recordings of Special Merit". Stereo Review (New York) 48: 90. 1983. 
  20. ^ "The Ramones US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  21. ^ McNeil, Legs; Holmstrom, John (August 1986). "We're A Happy Family". Spin 2 (5): 78. 
  22. ^ "Johnny Ramone Grades the Ramones". New York. March 18, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  23. ^ Subterranean Jungle (expanded) (Compact Disc). Ramones. Rhino Records. 2002. R2 78157. 
Bibliography