Given their irreverent sensibilities, it's almost ironic to lionize the comic deconstruction of ossified rock history that was the Ramones' stock in trade, or note the decades of punk and alt.rock that remain their legacy. Instead, this collection smartly recasts the punk pioneers as literal pulp culture icons via its EC Comics-inspired packaging and the brilliantly executed comic book history of the band that accompanies it. Musically, the set's first three discs offer up 85 highlights of the band's recording career, personally compiled by founder/guitarist Johnny Ramone and seasoned with rarities like the demo for "Slug," the UK B-side "I Don't Want to Live This Life," and the single mixes of "Sheena.." and others. Its accompanying Lifestyles of the Ramonesdocumentary DVD intersperses 14 videos with the often bittersweet recollections of the band and key family members, as well as such notables as Sire's Seymour Stein, Talking Head Tina Weymouth and producer Ed Stasium; another bonus six clips (including covers of the Who's "Substitute" and the '60s' "Spiderman" theme) round out that history. But it's the dizzying visual eclecticism of the included graphic history (executed in color b&w and 3-D by 25 top comic artists including Matt Groening, Zippycreator Bill Griffith, Mad magazine vet Sergio Argones, bootleg cover legend William Stout and Love and Rockets' Xaime Hernandez) that becomes the set's unusual focal point, a loving visual evocation of both their infectious music and shrewd, if willfully low-brow public persona. -- Jerry McCulley
The supreme godfathers of punk-face it, they were on their third album before the Sex Pistols even broke-are true American originals, and their sensational end-of-the-century juggernaut is chronicled as never before in this career-spanning collection. Reducing and scrambling multiple strains of early rock 'n' roll and pop into a signature chainsaw of sound, the Ramones' loud, fast, and hard legacy rocketed out of NYC's CBGB in the early '70s and changed the face of modern music. Johnny Ramone, before his 2004 passing, oversaw the compilation of this first-ever 3 CD Ramones blitzkrieg box for Rhino. Includes a bonus DVD 2005.