Assembled from demos and unreleased recordings stretching back 15 years before his death in 2001, … Ya Know? serves as a companion piece to the Ramones front man’s first posthumous album, Don’t Worry About Me. Presumably several of these tracks were under consideration for that earlier record, released a decade ago, and it’s a puzzle why it’s taken so long for them to see the light of day.
Let it be known that this is no barrel-scraping exercise, no desperately hopeful trawl of forgotten dusty shelves; it’s a far better record than anything Joey put out with his iconic group in their final declining years. With guests including Steve Van Zandt, Joan Jett and Lenny Kaye along for the ride, the album is awash with crunchy guitar anthems and Noo Yawk attitude.
What Did I Do To Deserve You? is sparkling, sardonic power-pop, like Bob Dylan fronting Big Star; 21st Century Girl comes on like a ripped denim riposte to Marc Bolan’s song of a similar title; while Seven Days Of Gloom grinds away like The Stooges in a particularly grumpy mood. Vocally, Joey’s rarely sounded better, be it sneering his way through the Spector-like Party Line or aping Eddie Cochran on I Couldn’t Sleep.