It probably sounds a bit cruel to call Best of the Chrysalis Years the Ramones' answer to the Rolling Stones' Sucking in the 70's, even though both are compilation albums which capture truly great bands at less-than-memorable points in their career. After all, the Stones had an active hand in putting together the lamentable Sucking in the 70's, while some nameless functionary at EMI Records (who released Brain Drain, Loco Live, Mondo Bizarro, Acid Eaters, and Adios Amigos in the United Kingdom) threw this odd little collection together five years after the band had ceased to exist and a year after Joey Ramone went to that great CBGB in the sky. The band's glorious earlier period is represented by eight cuts from the OK concert set Loco Live, while the other ten tunes are a sometimes-dispiriting set of latter-day studio tracks (including a large number of cover tunes and contributions from outside songwriters) which often descend into a level of bombast which doesn't honor the memory of the band's lean-and-mean classics. Significantly, two of the best cuts here are from Adios Amigos, recorded at a point when the band had already decided to call it a day -- a blazing cover of Tom Waits' "I Don't Want to Grow Up" that sounds like it could have been an outtake from Road to Ruin, and the brilliantly dumb "Got a Lot to Say." If you love the Ramones, chances are you already know you don't really need an album that has "Don't Bust My Chops" and "Anxiety" instead of "Pinhead" or "Chainsaw," and if you're new to the group's legacy, any of the Ramones' first four albums (or their first live disc, It's Alive) will give you a far better introduction to their earth-shattering coolness than Best of the Chrysalis Years.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming