It's obvious that the dinosaurs in sombreros on the cover of "Adios Amigos!" are supposed to symbolize New York's legendary Ramones. But the band's supposed swan song shows that the Ramones shouldn't become extinct so soon.
Though it's not as raging as "Too Tough to Die," the band's last truly punk-rock effort, "Adios Amigos!" shows there's still some life in the Ramones formula - two- or three-chord pop-punk that has inspired its share of imitators, both good and bad. The album's certainly heads and shoulders above the band's '60s-era tribute album, "Acid Eaters," and much more convincing than the one before that, "Mondo Bizarro."Former band member Dee Dee Ramone wrote six of this album's 13 songs, many of them the better ones. And in an ironic twist, C.J. Ramone, who replaced Dee Dee as the band's bass guitarist, more than adequately sings two of them, the pro wrestling-inspired "Crusher" and the ultrasnotty "Cretin Family," which features a shout-along "Oi!" chorus.
The crunching instrumental accompaniment - much of it Johnny and Marky Ramone's guitar and drum work, respectively - is also up to snuff and much better in places, especially on "Cretin Family."
Elsewhere, the quartet's exuberant cover of Tom Waits' "I Don't Want to Grow Up," which should be the Ramones' theme song, and the surprisingly cheery "Life's a Gas" sound like they could have come off any of the group's early records.
Only the dubious "She Talks to Rainbows," which isn't nearly as funny as it would appear to be, and the uninspired "Born to Die in Berlin" ultimately fall flat. Both come at the end of the album and hopefully not at the end of the career.
But if the Ramones do call it quits after the subsequent tour, "Adios Amigos!" shows they'll do so on a high point, musically.