Music review: C.J. Ramone - ‘The Holy Spell...’

The Ramones will always hold a special place in my heart.

A driving force of the New York City punk scene in the 1970s, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone cranked out mini bursts of defiant energy fueled by hyperactive guitar riffs, pounding drums, singable melodies and quick-witted lyrics that spoke to the disenchanted youth looking for a place and a voice in an ever-changing world.

The four original members might be gone, but they certainly aren’t forgotten as C.J. Ramone carries on the band’s punk legacy.

Thirty years after joining the iconic band and replacing Dee Dee on bass, the Queens native and ex-Marine continues to belt out new numbers with an abundance of gusto and unapologetic unrest on his fourth full-length studio effort.

Clocking in around 33 minutes, “The Holy Spell…” briskly delivers 12 tracks loaded with plenty of garage rock fervor.

“One High One Low” is a fast-paced declaration of love and devotion as Ramone sings, “I don’t care what your mom and pop say/You’re the only one for me.”

The new material showcases Ramone’s knack for constructing condensed and potent arrangements with a vibrant vibe on tracks like “This Town,” “Movin’ On” and “Waitin’ on the Sun.”

Spirited covers of Graham Parker’s “Crawling from the Wreckage” and Webb Pierce’s 1953 hit “There Stands the Glass” convey a slight tone of early Elvis Costello from his punk days.

Other standout tracks include the slacker tune “I’m Disappointed,” motivational “Stand Up” and hard-driving road anthem “Postcard from Heaven.”

The set closes on a sentimental note with “Rock On.” The passionate arrangement showcases Ramone paying tribute to the late Steve Soto of the Adolescents and the good times playing together as Ramone sings, “When we were ready to rock, you were always ready to roll.”

Listening to “The Holy Spell…” makes me feel like a teenager again and fondly recalls the days when a pair of faded jeans, a plain white T-shirt and black leather jacket made you feel invincible.

Once a punk, always a punk.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at

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