Recorded in 1993, towards the end of the Ramones' career, Acid Eaters is often set apart from other Ramones releases in that it is an album consisting entirely of covers. Pressed on novelty 'psychedelic' green and red paint-splashed vinyl, it is a must-have for any dedicated Ramones fan.
While the Ramones were an alternative to the cocaine-and-cash-fuelled guitar rock of mainstream rock music, they were never afraid to acknowledge their musical influences. Unlike other punk bands of their time, such as the Clash whose shunning of any Beatles influences was made clear with the lyric 'Phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust'1, the Ramones embraced some of the music from their childhood and welcomed it into their own unique sound.
Acid Eaters forms a musical tribute to the Ramones' '60s favourites, and highlights the influence that bands such as the Beach Boys had on their music.
- Joey Ramone - Lead Vocals
- Johnny Ramone - Guitar
- CJ Ramone - Bass2
- Marky Ramone - Drums
As well as the Ramones, rock legend Pete Townshend supplies backing vocals to his own song, 'Substitute'.
As a point of interest, it is worth mentioning that all of the Ramones played under pseudonyms and were not, as many lesser fans have thought, brothers. The band's real names were: Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Christopher Joseph Ward and Marc Bell. CJ and Marky weren't founding members of the band, however, as bass and drums were originally played by Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone. The Ramones surname was adapted by Joey, a Beatles fan, from the name Paul Ramon, which was jokingly used by Paul McCartney3. Sadly, Joey Ramone died of lymphatic cancer on 15 April, 2001.
The recording of Acid Eaters wasn't the first time that the Ramones had played cover songs. Covers had always formed a minor part of the Ramones' act, and a version of Chris Montez's hit 'Let's Dance' (written by and credited to Jim Lee) even appeared on their debut album. Other notable covers include 'Needles and Pins' by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche, 'Baby, I Love You' by the Ronettes and 'Streetfighting Man' by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Acid Eaters, however, was the first complete set of covers, and the songs it contains are much more significant than the seemingly randomly distributed covers on the Ramones' other works.
Musically, Acid Eaters is of a high standard. The songs are well chosen, and the Ramones' interpretation keeps the original flavour of the covers while introducing their standard no-frills version of punk. Although the songs contained on the record aren't perhaps as memorable as some of the Ramones' original work, such as 'Blitzkreig Bop' or 'I Wanna Be Sedated', they are still well arranged and make pleasant listening.
Although Acid Eaters is available on CD, it really needs to be owned on vinyl to be enjoyed. With many of the band's earlier albums, Ramones being a good example, artwork and other distractions were kept to a minimum, with focus being placed on the music. Owning these releases on vinyl isn't particularly important, as they are not as aesthetically pleasing, and cool, as Acid Eaters.
The really great thing about the Acid Eaters release, apart from the music, is the vinyl that it's pressed on. In keeping with the 'tripped out' theme of the release, the recording is pressed on translucent vinyl with psychedelic, acid-induced splatters of red and green paint. Quite simply, it's a very cool record; a must-have for anyone who enjoys showing off their record collection.
Music fans wishing to stay within the boundaries of copyright law should be wary of the large amount of bootlegged copies of Acid Eaters in circulation. Bootlegging has always been associated with punk, and as one of the founding members of the genre, Ramones records have often been illegally reproduced. If in doubt, remember to check the catalogue number, record label, and obtain a receipt.
Interestingly, many copies of the record are misprinted with '33rpm' on the label, which makes Joey's voice sound very tripped-out indeed when played. The record actually plays at 45rpm.
Is It Worth Buying?
To someone who has never heard of the Ramones before, Acid Eaters is probably not a wise purchase as it is not a good introduction to the band4. The songs are very good, but they aren't really that memorable as Ramones songs. Although it's musically excellent, someone wanting to learn more about the Ramones would be much better off listening to shouts of 'Hey ho, let's go' or 'Lobotomy!' than going on an expedition through the Ramones' musical influences. Although the music is very enjoyable, it doesn't really offer much insight into who the Ramones were, or why they are so significant. After all, the Ramones' drug of choice was solvent-rich glue, not acid (check out the lyrics to 'Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue').
To the fan who is already familiar with the Ramones' original work, the record is an excellent purchase. Throughout their recording career before Acid Eaters, the influence of the '60s on the Ramones had always been very clear. For example, the surf-rock influence can be heard on Ramones songs like 'Surfin' Bird' and 'Rockaway Beach', and the inclusion of the 'Surf City' cover is an excellent tribute to one of Joey's favourite bands. To a fan, it's simply a pleasure to hear the band acknowledging their roots. To the Ramones completist, Acid Eaters is an essential.
The cool artwork, good recording, well arranged songs all help to make Acid Eaters a much more desirable record, especially if it's on vinyl.
It's worth noting that the track order may be different on the vinyl and CD issues of Acid Eaters, and between the various labels (legal and otherwise) that it has been released on.
Playing length: 31:05
- 'Can't Seem to Make You Mine' - The Seeds
- 'The Shape Of Things to Come' - The Yardbirds
- '7 and 7 Is' - Love
- 'I Can't Control Myself' - The Troggs
- 'Journey to the Centre of the Mind'5 - Amboy Dukes
- 'Out of Time' - Rolling Stones
- 'Have You Ever Seen the Rain' - Creedence Clearwater Revival
- 'Substitute' - The Who
- 'Somebody to Love' - Jefferson Airplane
- 'Surf City' - The Beach Boys
- 'When I Was Young' - The Animals
- 'My Back Pages' - Bob Dylan
UK Label (1993): Chrysalis
Catalogue Number: CHR 6052 (vinyl), CDCHR 6052 (CD)
UK Label (2001 CD reissue): EMI Plus
Catalogue number: 724357638128
US Label: MCA
Catalogue Number: 10913