Ramones

Chinese Rock

Composed by Dee Dee Ramone / Richard Hell

Song Review by

This is one of the more controversial cuts on End Of The Century, which is saying a lot because that entire album is pretty controversial in the world of Ramones fandom. “Chinese Rock” was penned years before End Of The Century but wasn’t recorded by the group at the time and given to Johnny Thunder and the Heartbreakers, who did a barnstorming version of the song on their LAMF album. The lyrics are a first-person portrait of drug addiction penned in a typically blunt and raw Ramones style: “I’m livin’ on a Chinese rock/All my best things are in hock/I’m livin’ on a Chinese rock/Everything is in the pawn shop.” The music takes the muted drama of the lyrics to new heights with verses whose attention-getting ascending phrases build up rhythmically until they explode into a stomping chorus that swoops high and low in a mesmerizing style. The Ramones criticized their own recording of “Chinese Rock” for lacking the edge of the Johnny Thunders version but it still remains plenty powerful thanks to a driving arrangement: Marky Ramone’s powerful drumming sets the tone, driving along the verses in cymbal-crashing style and adding thunderous, tumbling drum rolls to underpin the chorus while Johnny Ramone slashes out authoritative bursts of power chords and Dee Dee Ramone supports it all with a throbbing bass line. Joey Ramone completes the sound with a snarling vocal whose angry edge cuts through this huge sound with style and punch. All these touches made “Chinese Rock” a production that pushed the Ramones’ prototypical punk rock sound up to bombastic heights. Some fans argue over the merits of this ‘big’ sound but there is no denying that “Chinese Rock” is a truly powerful recording.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
End of the Century 1980 Rhino / Warner Bros. 2:30
Ramones Mania 1988 Warner Bros. 2:31
We're Outta Here! 1997 Music Club International Records
Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones Anthology 1999 Rhino 2:30
Loud, Fast Ramones: Their Toughest Hits 2002 WEA 1:59
The  Sire Years 1976-1981 2013 Rhino / Warner Bros. 2:30
Hey, Ho! Let's Go! Legendary Live Broadcast 2015 Blue Line Music / Blueline 2:01
Pinheads in Buenos Aires 2015 Goldfish 1:59
My Father's Place, NYC, July 20, 1982 2016 Roxvox 2:04
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