Following a series of compilations called You Heard It Here First!, which collected original versions of songs made more famous when covered, Ace Records got artist-specific with the series, issuing compilations of songs either covered by or deeply influential to Elvis, the Fall, and now, the Ramones. The Ramones never shied away from a good cover tune, and their tastes were generally confined to '60s radio pop, girl group, surf, and a touch of psychedelic garage rock. They even went so far as to record an entire album of covers with 1993's lighthearted Acid Eaters, a set of covers that leaned heavily on masters of psychedelic garage like Love, the Seeds, and the Troggs as well as early-'60s surf classics from the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. The Ramones: Heard Them Here First is an easy mark, collecting the original versions later recorded by a band whose members wore their influences proudly on their sleeves and were drawn more to genre-defining classics than obscure rarities. The collection is thorough, moving in chronological order from Chris Montez's "Let's Dance" (covered on the Ramones' 1976 debut album) through to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and the Stooges' "1969" as covered by Joey Ramone on his posthumous 2002 album, Don't Worry About Me. Ace did their homework, too, because not even a cover of 1910 Fruitgum Company's goofy bubblegum hit "Indian Giver" from a late-'80s 12" B-side was lost in the shuffle. The only covers that aren't from the golden age of late-'50s and 1960s teen pop and surf are Motörhead's tribute to the band "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." and Tom Waits' wistful Peter Pan tale "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" from his 1992 masterpiece, Bone Machine. There's nothing revelatory about the collection, but these classic tracks make sense together as much as they did when covered in a sped-up punked-out fashion by the Ramones, who were a classic band in their own right.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas