Around four years ago, Rhino Records did an awfully wonderful thing for us high priests belonging to the Cult of Ramones: they re-issued the first eight LPs in their re-mastered entirety on CD plus bonus tracks of cuts including different vocal versions, demo versions, and live versions. Some of these bonus tracks were also tunes that never made it onto the original LPs to begin with (the Subterranean Jungle non-LP cuts are fucking brilliant). Being par for the course with Rhino, the packaging and liner notes on these re-releases are top notch and I can’t recommend ‘em enough if you haven’t replaced your worn-out Ramones vinyl with these yet. They’d also be good gifts for your friends who just had their first newborns. Screw baby blankets and Johnny Jumpers. Put together an eight-disc set of “Baby’s First Ramones.” The kid will thank you later on in life if he/she grows up with any sense. Now, getting to this box—when I first heard about it, I was a bit skeptical being there’s been a few “greatest hits” Ramones releases over the past few years. But when I heard that a collaboration of comic artists were pitching in their talents for an included book with this and that Rhino was heading the deal, I was sold. Quote Homer J. Simpson: “Done and done!” The book is packed with artists’ Ramones offerings from whom a lotta fans will recognize right off the bat, like John Holmstrom (Punk magazine), whose artwork graced the Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin LPs, not mentioning about a bazillion Ramones tour shirts. Other noted artists include Sergio Aragones (MAD Magazine), Matt Groening (Life In Hell, The Simpsons), Xaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets), Bill Griffith (Zippy The Pinhead) and a whole bunch more. I get the idea that this book was supposed to be primarily for comic book artists, but I personally would’ve like to seen Chris Cooper (Coop) included here. If I ain’t mistaken, he did the Ramones’ We’re Outta Here box art. He also draws one hell of an example of what a beautiful woman looks like. The first three discs include Ramones tuneage from the thirteen studio LPs plus cuts from the Acid Eaters cover album. The fourth disc, a DVD, includes the Lifestyles of the Ramones video collection of Ramones production videos plus five later videos the band produced in the ‘90s. Upon further examination of the liner notes, it seems Johnny Ramone compiled all the disc material for this before passing on last year, and it’s just a damn shame that he, Joey or Dee Dee aren’t here to see it. Seymour Stein, the man who once ran Sire Records and signed the Ramones said something awhile back that hit the nail right on the head. He said bands like the Ramones don’t come along once in a lifetime; they come along once. Life’s too short, my friends. PLAY LOUD.