At Least They Tried
Jeffrey C. Zoerner | Madison, WI | 08/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Funny how we re-write musical reality over time. Nowadays it's common knowledge that "The Queen Is Dead" is the best Smith's album, but at the time a lot of us fans thought it was the weakest (and still do). We also believe that the Ramones blundered with this album and attempted to "redeem" themselves with their following two. (Which, perhaps, is true, but whether they needed to--or whether they succeeded--was never a given with fans at the time.)
Here's the deal: as great as the Ramones' first few albums are, it's a formula that can only be milked for so long. They only had three options: to quit, to change, or to suck. (Of course those options weren't mutually exclusive.) They tried to change, and going with Phil Spector wasn't the worst idea. For Christ's sake, it's not the end of the world to try and fail. They got some fresh sounds and fresh songs, so all things considered I think they did OK. No, of course it wasn't a continuation of their legacy, but thank God. Nothing's sadder than bands churning out the same old crap decade after decade, and slugs salivating and waiving their lighters at the first recognition of a 40 year old song's opening chords.
Really, by "Road to Ruin" the signs of same-old-thingness were beginning to sprout, making an attempt at change laudable.
The consensus of American musical lore aside, this is actually a better album than "Pleasant Dreams." Why weren't more people belching in disgust over how "We Want the Airwaves" was just a lame rehashing of "I'm Affected"?
This album is pretty good, and you can't fault the guys for trying. Better to change for the worse than to become an imitation of yourself. End of review."