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 In 1989 Christopher Joseph Ward was hand-picked by punk legends The Ramones to fill the formidable shoes of founding bassist and chief songwriter Dee Dee Ramone. Donning the moniker CJ Ramone, he would go on to record, tour, occasionally write and sing for the seminal New York quartet until their final show in 1996. Following a few post Ramones music projects, Ward opted out of the business, even turning down the high-profile and presumably high paying bass slot in Metallica to raise his family. 

In 2013 he returned to music and his famous surname with the self released and well received Reconquista followed by the equally admirable Last Chance To Dance (Fat Wreck Chords) in 2014. 

After extensive international touring and a historic trip to Cuba in 2016, 2017 sees CJ back at it with American Beauty, another 12 song collection of infectiously melodic classic American Punk Rock. Written in only two weeks and recorded by Paul Miner (H2O, New Found Glory) in eleven days at Buzzbomb Studios in Orange, CA. American Beauty reunites the bassist with guitarists Dan Root and Steve Soto (Adolescents) and drummer Pete Sosa (Street Dogs). 

Lead track “Let’s Go” is an up tempo call to arms perfectly tailored for the upcoming live set, with it’s lyrical nod to The Ramones classic “Cretin Hop”, “The kids are all lining up with tickets in their hands / Waiting all year for us to come / The Cretins wan to hop again”, it’s sure to incite at least a few mosh pits. After taking on a slightly more menacing tone with the barn burner “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”, American Beauty really clicks into gear with what I consider to be Ramone’s particular strength, the 60’s inspired mid tempo pop / rock tune. CJ’s amiable voice and songwriting approach add an uplifting sense to even break up songs like “You’ll Neve Make Me Believe” and the more whimsical “Girlfriend In A Grave Yard”. As was the case with former band mate and punk icon Joey Ramone, CJ has a knack for infusing punk with a sense of sweetness and romance without becoming overly sappy, as evident in “Before the Lights Go Out”, “Be a Good Girl” and the stand out duet with Big Eyes vocalist Kate Eldridge “Without You”“Tommy’s Gone”, a delicate and heartfelt acoustic tribute to Ramones original drummer / founding member Tommy (Erdelyi) Ramone, and album closer “Pony”, a rousing Tom Waits cover, replete with Mariachi trumpets courtesy of Mariachi El Bronx, add some diverse flavors to the otherwise straight forward punk rock material.

Artist: CJ Ramone 

 Release: American Beauty 

 Label: Fat Wreck Chords 

 Genre: Punk / Rock 

 Release Date: 3-17-17 

Rating: 8/10

With American Beauty Cj Ramone delivers another exuberant release that while treading familiar territory has enough unique personality to stand on it’s own. Any fan of the classic Ramones sound and spirit should find plenty to like here.

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