Leave Home, the Ramones’ second album, was so named because it marked the band leaving their squalid NYC origins to go say hello to weirdos around the world. To aid in this transition, the band took the hard-ahead pummel of their 1976 self-titled debut and welded it to beachy, sun-soaked melodies, as though the Beach Boys had suddenly started taking amphetamines. “I Remember You” and “Oh Oh I Love Her So” are pure bubblegum pop played at a million miles per hour; the guns-blazing cover of “California Sun” cements this completely. “Carbona Not Glue” took the concept of “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” (the band’s first composition) and asserted that Carbona (a cleaning fluid) made for a better high than glue; the company behind Carbona was not amused. The Ramones didn’t care, though; they were aiming squarely for the weirdos, the misfits, the awkward kids who didn’t meld well with the mainstream. These were the people the band was connecting to on “Pinhead”, with it’s cry of “gabba gabba we accept you one of us, one of us,” (taken from a 1930s movie about carnies). These people – the art-damaged kids in NYC and the glue-huffers around the world – were the early adopters of the punk music, and while they took to 1977’s other Ramones album, Rocket To Russia, much more, Leave Home is a solid document of the direction of the band as the punk era dawned.
It’s hard to overstate the influence of the Ramones on punk rock. For a huge number of bands that took up the torch in the 1980s and 1990s, they were the ultimate punk band – the complete package, three chords and an attitude. Everything that got big in the mid-Nineties – Green Day et al. – owes an allegiance in one form or another to the sound that the band pioneered between 1976 and 1981. Leave Home is leather jackets, unwashed hair, cheap beer, and getting high inexpensively – it’s greaser music for kids who had to run when the football team came calling.