Ignored, Maligned, and Forgotten Music

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You Pick the Winner: Chinese Rocks

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Legbamel Not-Pop

This edition of You Pick the Winner will be a little different. It's a pair of versions of the same son, Chinese Rock by two different punk bands recording at the same time: The Ramones and Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers. There's a method to my madness.

You see, DeeDee Ramone wrote the music, the chorus, and a verse (and, yes, the rocks in questions are heroin) but couldn't get the band on-board with it so he took it to Richard Hell who was, at the time, with The Heartbreakers. He said, "Yeah, let's do it," and the two finished the song together. (That was a paraphrase, by the way.) Then The Heartbreakers recorded it in 1977, Hell left to join The Ramones, and Johnny Thunders ended up credited with writing the song for years.

The Ramones recorded the song as well and released their version in 1980. That's the one I know better and so when I bumped into the "original" I was very confused. I knew the song and it sounded almost right but one I realized what it was the credits and the release dates threw me for a loop, partly because it's an autobiographical song about DeeDee Ramone's life at the time.

At any rate, that's not the point of You Pick the Winner. I want to know which version you like better: The Ramones with Chinese Rock or the more-plural Johnny Thunders take on Chinese Rocks.

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