Ya, we know
3 Out Of 5 Stars
The second and (from the sounds of reports) final solo from Joey Ramone is a solid and unlikely tribute to the late singer. From the liner notes, it also sounds like this was a tough record to release, with barbs at producer Daniel Rey for an "eight year long tug of war" over Joey's vocal tapes. Was the battle worth it? For us fans, heck yeah.
"Ya Know" sounds like a half-ways decent Ramones album from the period after "Too Tough To Die" that began seeing them struggling with weaker material. Indeed, some of these songs might have spruced up the likes of "Animal Boy" or "Brain Drain," as references seem to point to various gestation years. The most blatant is the Elton John cop in "Rock and Roll is The Answer," the worst is the country weeper redo of "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)." Given that these were all stapled together from home demos, the friends in attendance (Andy Shernoff of the Dictators, Jean Beauvoir of the Plasmatics, Joan Jett, Holly Vincent of Holly and The Italians and more), this sounds like a coherent, full album. Vincent's duet on the Phil Specter-like "Party Line" is a super standout, and "New York City," which has an all-star cast behind Joey, is a love letter to NYC that rocks like the best of any Ramones platter.
Some of the songs retain their demo quality, with La la's and Ba-ba's sounding like open spaces for unfinished lyrics ("Make Me Tremble") and the closer, "Life's a Gas" is only really half a song. At the same time, when you hear the wind shimes that fade the song out and know that these were things in Joey's life that brought him peace, it's hard not to forgive the album's final handlers for giving us, as fans, everything that was left in the vaults. Almost as good as "Don't Worry About Me" and missing by a cover version (Joey's kicking version of "Wonderful World" on DWAM), "Ya Know" is everything a Ramones fan could expect. A rambling staggering piece of purity. Just like the guy himself.