Like the audio equivalent of the dreaded Christmas pullover, tribute records torment our fashion sensibilities with the nagging conundrum that, however bad a garment, it’s the thought that counts. But there comes a time, especially when faced with Bono fumbling with The Ramones’ not-to-be-fumbled-with “Beat On The Brat”, when one is forced to drop to one’s knees and scream, “WHY?”
Okay, a partial profit donation to New York’s Lymphoma Research Foundation (the cancer that claimed Joey Ramone in 2001) is a fair excuse, but it’s by no means an explanation for the off-target desecration on show here. With the exception of Tom Waits, who reinvents 1976’s “Judy Is A Punk” as his own wino-blues howl “The Return Of Jackie & Judy” (returning the favour for their late cover of his “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”), and Marilyn Manson, who at least tries by stripping “The KKK Took My Baby Away” of its original upbeat melody (creating a dingy murder ballad in the process), this is a pointless exercise.
Rancid and Green Day’s contributions are as gormless as one might imagine but nor do U2, Metallica, Eddie Vedder or the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever deliver anything beyond egotistical karaoke. With the best of intentions, nothing here says anything profound or poetic about The Ramones. To be brutal, this album’s charity beneficiaries can be contacted via www.leukemia-lymphoma.org. Send them your cash but, for the love of Joey and Dee Dee, leave this on the shelf.