Posted in Latest Stories & Articles by H.L., Main Blog (All Posts) on July 4th, 2006 12:29 pm by HL
Last night I attended a very unique event, unique for what it was, and where it was. It was an outdoor movie viewing of the world premiere of The Ramones live concert movie “Itâ€™s Alive.” along with their old movie “Rock and Roll High School.” The event was held at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, current home of 2 of the bands members.
The Ramones who were my homeboys from Queens N.Y. invented punk rock, and had a host of other bands like The Clash, and The Sex Pistols, follow in their footsteps.
When I heard about this show I knew I had to go. Having seen The Ramones live 3 times between 1983, and 1985, I was a huge fan. (And also because I had forgotten all about the Flipper show last weekend which was right next door to where I live at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood, This is a band who never plays live anymore, and who I had seen on their first tour back in 1982)
Its Alive, was recorded at The Ramones December 31, 1977 show in London, which Johnny Ramone called the best show they ever played. Due to the expense of filming live at the time, they could only choose some of the 28 songs they played to film. The audio tracks were made into one of the greatest live albums ever (and The Ramones best album) The film was subsequently shoved into a vault somewhere in Hollywood, where it sat for almost 30 years until it was decided to try to release it. Once it was brought out into the light it was discovered that some of the tracks were missing, along with the Nagra track which is used to sync the music and the film together. They had a real mess on their hands with lots of film footage and music footage and no way to get them synchronized. They had to call in perhaps the only person in the world who could put the whole thing together. Tommy Ramone, the drummer on the tracks, (and only original member of the band who is still alive) to get the whole thing together painstakingly using computer programs to get the job done. According to one of the people who spoke it would take many many hours just to sync up a couple of minutes of music.
The screening was held on a big lawn that was next to a big white Mausoleum on the grounds which is the final resting place of old time Hollywood stars like Rudolf Valentino, and Douglas Fairbanks. Since we arrived early and it was still light out, we took a little walk
around the place. To the left of the lawn I noticed was a big pink 50’s Cadillac sitting near the side of the road. (It was the car the Ramones rode to the concert in in RRHS) It was at the grave of Johnnie Ramone, who died a year ago, and who’s widow, Linda was putting on the event. Johnnie has a nice statue of him playing guitar next to the caddy.
While walking around I also came across the grave of Douglas Glenn Colvin (aka Dee Dee Ramone) Whom I did not know was buried there.
By the time we got back to the blanket we had set up right in front of the wall they were showing the movie on it was almost dark and they were ready to begin. Easily over 500 people were present most of who were not yet alive on the night Its Alive was filmed. The band still has a big following of young people, and this was the closest they were ever going to get to seeing a Ramones concert.
Before the movie started several guest speakers got up and said a few words including P.J. Soles the female lead in Rock and Roll High School, the films director, Allan Arkush, and Henry Rollins who talked about the first time he ever saw a Ramones show.
Then it was time for the world premier, from the first drum beats to Blitzkrieg Bop which was the song they always opened with, until the last song “We’re a Happy Family” was over, I felt like I was back at a live Ramones concert. The live shows were definitely the best part of the band. (I didn’t become a big fan until I saw them for the first time.) They were a sonic wall of sound playing at top volume, with Johnny and Dee Dee’s crunching riffs, Tommyâ€™s pounding drums and Joey’s droll vocal delivery. The crowd jumped danced and sweated its way through the set in which the band never took a break. As the last notes of one song were still ringing out. Dee Dee would jump on the mic shout out his customary 1,2,3,4 and they would be back at ear crunching volume and speed instantly. The footage was not in perfect shape after 30 years in the vault, there were many jump cuts where frames of film must have been missing, and one song has a generic number written across the middle of the screen throughout. None of that mattered to the fans that had a chance to see the Ramones play live one more time. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if the movie was played about 3 times louder then it was. (Although it was still pretty loud with a decent sound system set up) that would have really brought back the Ramones concert feel. During the movie I thought about how it didn’t seem that long ago that I was in the audience watching them live, and how now the 3 main members were dead, and how short and precious life is. We have to remember to enjoy every moment, and not let small inconveniences and disagreements get in the way of our personal relationships, and lives. (The Ramones, famously, all hated each other.)
After the concert film was over, Rock and Roll High School was shown, which was a teen movie that The Ramones agreed to appear in, I had seen it years ago, and had not remembered it fondly, but on re-viewing I found to be not as bad as I thought it was, and actually quite funny in many parts. Of course the scenes where The Ramones played were great.
I can’t wait for the DVD of Its Alive to come out so I can relive the experience of a Ramones concert over and over again. If you are a Rock fan in general, or a Ramones fan in particular, this is a must get movie. Long live The Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey!