At their peak, the Ramones were about gestalt. Four guys united under leather pumping out simple, declarative anthems in a wall of sound all under three minutes. Their first four albums are punk’s main primer and essential. They made 14 studio albums, however, and are now being anthologized for the fourth time. The vaults having been tapped out with Rhino’s exhaustive catalog reissues, Weird Tales earns its keep with packaging that perfectly encapsulates the band’s cartoonish essence. Let’s face it, despite the mostly high quality of the 85 tracks (the last half of their studio albums were below par and even some highlights drive down the averages); if you’re a Ramones fan, you already own them. So, therefore, it’s the full-color comic book featuring 25 notable and stellar artists, including John Holmstrom, editor of long-lamented Punk Magazine and the band’s early album illustrator, John Pound (Garbage Pail Kids) and Bill Griffiths (Zippy the Pinhead), that makes this a must-have. The fourth disc, a DVD, collects all 18 of their videos with interview footage interspersed — billed as Lifestyles of the Ramones — but nothing as revelatory as the End of the Century documentary that all hard-core fans should see.
Rob O'Connor writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.