I’m a sucker for a goodbye album. Not just a final album (in many ways there’s nothing more disappointing than when a band breaks up and a sub-par album stands as their final statement) but a true goodbye, an intentional sayonara to the fans or indeed, an ¡Adios Amigos! Released on July 18 1995, Adios was the Ramones fourteenth album and their last studio recorded release (there would be a handful of live albums but for all intents and purposes, this is their last). It wasn’t exactly praised on its release, it was mainly just ignored and yeah I’ll be honest, it’s not their self-titled debut, it’s not Rocket to Russia, there isn’t anything close to a Sheena is a Punk Rocker but it’s a pretty damn good album and way better than any band of forty-something’s fourteenth album deserves to be.
Bursting in with a brilliant cover of Tom Waits’ I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, the fuzzed-up guitar lines, pounding drums and yelping vocals sound like those same snot-nosed punks who burst onto the scene twenty years prior and it carries on with a trio of great numbers by Dee Dee: Making Monsters for my Friends, It’s Not For Me To Know, and the odd proto rap-punk of The Crusher. In fact almost all of the best (beyond I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, that is the best) is written by Dee Dee, the only one who seems to be able to capture that old Ramones magic. Final track Born to Die in Berlin feels oddly chilling to listen to now that all the original Ramones are gone but still is a magnificently bitter stomp and a near-perfect way to end the album.
Tracks 5-13 suffer from a mixture of forgettable and plain old underworked mid-tempo numbers ranging from Johnny Thunder penned I Love You which is OK but suffers from an unclear line between sincerity and ironic detachment and Joey Ramone’s sole writing credit on the album Life’s a Gas which is anything but. Overall it smacks of a need to make a full album more than just an EP. It’s odd that at a very fast 34 minutes, my one major complaint about this album is it feels too long. Packing 14 tracks into that time, if they had managed to trim that number down to a tight 9 or 10 tracks, maybe this would have been remembered significantly better if they’d kept the numbers down and made a short, sharp shock of a final record instead of what we got.
As it is, this is a good album, maybe a very good one if you skip a handful of the tracks but as the audio of equivalent of a group of old thieves pulling of ‘one last job’, it works. It tells us that Ramones have been around forever and they’re aware of the fact that they’re probably getting too old for this, there’s only so long you can rail against the institution before you realise you’ve become them. They chose to end it before it became embaressing and they left us with a good few rallying cries worth listening to. As I said earlier, there’s no Sheena, no Blitzkrieg Bop, not even a Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight) but what there is, it’s good enough.