Middle-Age Lobotomy

It's been a rough couple of years for Marky Ramone. First, the former Ramones drummer lost his bandmate (and our favorite punk rock front man) Joey Ramone to cancer. Then, just three short weeks after the legendary band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his dear friend Dee Dee Ramone, the group's bassist, succumbed to a drug overdose last June.

But with a fitting kind of poetic justice, it was rock 'n' roll that saved Ramone from his doldrums. "To pick myself up out of the onslaught of good and bad, the Speedkings asked me if I would record this CD with them," he says of the group's three-month-old album, Legends Bleed.

Fans shouldn't expect Ramones-style anthems; the Speedkings have a harder guitar sound akin to The Hellacopters' sonic assault, with gruff vocals and speedy guitars that occasionally veer into Motörhead territory. With classic rock attitude, they stick to themes of reckless driving ("Burning Rubber"), girl troubles ("Saturday Night") and hating the world ("I Don't Care Anymore").

Some of the tunes are less "Rock 'n' Roll High School" and more rock 'n' roll middle school. For instance, take the juvenile gem "Weenie Hair," about getting mocked for having bald nether regions. An upbeat, melodic song rendered absurd with absolutely stupid lyrics, it's especially unbelievable considering that the Speedkings are a bunch of aging rockers channeling pissed-off preadolescents. Lyrics for some of the other tracks are bluntly raunchy, making meatheaded use of excessive expletives for the sake of . . . being punk?

Ramone can be forgiven, though, since most of the songs on Legends Bleed are credited to lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Nick Cooper. Strangely enough, the best two songs on the album were not only co-written by Ramone, but also performed by entirely different musicians. "Road Rage" is poppy fun, and "Motivate to Move" makes you want to sing along to the Ramones-esque chorus: "Na na nana na na . . ."