Tim Brough | Springfield, PA United States | 09/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a small town in Pennsylvania was a little Mom and Pop record store. About 1978 or so, that Palmyra record store began to get a lot of "promo only" albums, the majority of which were by artists in the underground punk scene. Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Dead Boys, Saints and a whole bunch of others. At a buck a pop, I was feeding my curiosity on a regular basis, going into the store literally every couple of days to see if any new albums had appeared.
One of those trips had two fresh items in the front of the bin... "Rocket To Russia" and "Road To Ruin" by The Ramones. I grabbed them both and went over to my friend Chuck's. He had been playing guitar for a year or so, and I'd been writing for as long as I could remember. We went into his basement and put "Rocket To Russia" on the turntable. As soon as "Rockaway Beach" was over, our world had changed. Chuck had his guitar in his hands before the end of side one, because we knew that we could do this, too. By the end of the week, we'd recruited a bassist and a drummer and formed a band.
Two songs. That was all it took to literally make our lives change course. "Rocket To Russia" is literally that powerful an album, and remains a watershed moment in punk rock. You get the seminal "Cretin Hop," "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" "Teenage Lobotomy" and what may be one of the most important Top 100 singles of the decade, "Rockaway Beach." You discover that all sorts of classics could be hammered into rock, as "Do You Wanna Dance" blasted surf music into smithereens.
So I write this, all but blubbering into my computer screen. Johnny's gone now, along with Joey and Dee Dee. Three quarters of the "brothers" that not only kicked complacent music in the kiester, but rallied four high school guys in 1978 to get on stage and make a glorious racket with three minute ditties we wrote ourselves. "Rocket To Russia" reconfigured my world. Turned up to 10, it still makes my head bob. Anyone who ever cared about rock and roll should have this album.
Sad to say, my world reconfigured again today. RIP, Johnny."
These Guys Were Top of the Mountain!
K. Brown | Walnut, Ca USA | 09/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Next to their debut album, this is my pick of The Ramones' best work ever. With the losses of Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny, it's sad to think The Ramones are a band of the past, but when you listen to works like "Rocket To Russia," you can say "they left an enduring legacy" without sounding contrived and melodramatic.
I love the opening songs on Rocket to Russia because you hear such energetic merriment packed with lyrics of the celebrated misfists: the proud declaration that "cretins wanna hop," followed by the seemingly innocent enthusiasm over hitching a ride to Rockaway Beach on a sunny day---without mentioning that Rockaway Beach is actually one of the grittiest, toughest, meanest beach towns in the country!
I love that we get a solid dose of unmistakable Ramones' lyrics in songs like "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" and "Teenage Lobotomy," and then receive the greatest cover of "Do You Want To Dance" ever recorded. No revamped punk lyrics, just the most powerful homage to oldies rock & roll you will ever hear, done in that high-octane Ramones' spirit. This song is the prime example of punk rock & classic rock meeting, morphing, and totally emerging into one another. Sounds corny, hmm? True, though.
In my opinion, there are no bad Ramones albums out there, but this is one of their greatest works. If you have never listened to The Ramones before, this is a good place to start. If you are one of those folks who are just now discovering The Ramones, get happy, because you've got a lot of great music to listen to up the road. These cats were the greatest!
Ramones Can Do No Wrong!
William Errickson, Jr. | Raleigh, NC United States | 06/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ROCKET TO RUSSIA was released in mid-1977, at the height of the fury that was known as Punk Rock. Sire Records was gearing up for some serious sales and betting a lot on the Ramones. It's no wonder, then, that the album has the band's cleanest, leanest, most accessible sound, refined to defiant, power-chorded perfection. It contains many of their classics, and every song is a finely crafted pop-rock gem. Here's a bit of poetry from "We're a Happy Family": "Sitting here in Queens/ Eating refried beans/ We're in all the magazines/ Gulping down Thorazines/ I'm friends with the president/ I'm friends with the pope/ We're al making a fortune/ Selling daddy's dope" How can any rock lover resist the obvious, sugary-yet-substantial charms of "Rockaway Beach," "Do You Wanna Dance," "Cretin Hop," "Locket Love"? (Well, apparently lots of "rock lovers" did just that, too busy buying up all that Kiss and Grand Funk Railroad and Fleetwood Mac swill in 1977). There's the nihilist's anthemic "I Don't Care," a punk dirge in which Joey declares "I don't care about this world/And I don't care about these words." "Ramona" is a bittersweet confection with a lovely melody. And then there's the song that I consider to be the most perfect pop song ever written, "Sheena is a Punk Rocker." An ode to free spirits everywhere, to New York City, and to the power of identity that the best rock'n'roll provides, "Sheena" is everything that makes the Ramones great in 2 minutes and 47 seconds: "Well, the kids are all hopped up and ready to go/ They got their surfboards and they're heading/ to the Discotheque a Go-Go/ But she just couldn't stay/ She had to break away/ Well New York City really has it all Oh yea-ah, oh yeah!" Second verse, same as the first. A put-the-top-down, fist-in-the-air, sing-along radio-friendly classic if ever there was one. However, when it was released as a single, radio stations took one look at the phrase "punk rocker" and recoiled in fear. Really. It's funny to think today that that phrase once struck horror into the stoutest of record company hearts, but it's true. Ah well, surely the less-threatening sounding "Rockaway Beach," with its Beach Boys-go-garage vibe and unforgettable chorus ("Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach/It's not hard, not far to reach/ We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach") would leap to the top of the charts and ensconce the Ramones in the nation's warm bosom. Except that this sunny, funny, delightful little ditty was released in the dead of winter. And it died. And that was it. The Ramones stopped cold. Despite relentless touring, the spectacle of Punk Rock was a dangerous one, and any band associated with it was thrown out with the bathwater. Plus, audiences outside of New York City's Lower East Side just couldn't get with four geeky-looking guys in motorcycle jackets, Captain America T-shirts two sizes too small and ripped-up blue jeans--not when there was John Travolta looking so suave and so dapper in his disco get-up!The remastered version of this classic is beyond reproach--a booklet filled with photos I hadn't seen before and commentary by the illustrious Legs McNeil ("I mean, have you ever been to Rockaway Beach?" he writes. "The place is a sewer!"). Plus full lyrics, original record sleeve cartoons by John Holmstrom, and a nice little P.S. from Arturo Vega. The bonus songs are top-notch: the masterful "Slug" (this is a demo?!) and a slightly different version of "It's a Long Way Back to Germany" than the one on Road to Ruin. These are easily some of the finest re-issues on the market today--too bad Columbia didn't do the same when they redid the Clash catalogue last year.So I say, screw disco and rock'n'roll forever! 1-2-3-4! Now the first four Ramones albums have been beautifully remastered, there's no reason for any home to be without 'em!"
America's "London Calling"
Chris Clark | Brooklyn, NY USA | 07/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like the Clash, the third time was the charm for the kings of Queens, who hotwired 1960s sincero-spunk ("Locket Love," "Do You Wanna Dance?") with 1970s chainsaw punk (which they singlehandedly invented on their debut and perfected on "Leave Home"), and somehow wound up in a dead heat with the Beach Boys for first place in the title bout for greatest surf combo ever ("Rockaway Beach," "Surfin' Bird" and especially "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker"). In the process, the protoboyz from da 'hood absolutely shredded anything and everything gobbed up by London's Class of '77 (listen to any Damned records lately?), not to mention their CBGB's peers (the combined careers of Blondie, Television and Talking Heads weren't as influential as "We're A Happy Family"). Even the pinheads-in-straightjackets schtick ("Cretin Hop," "I Wanna Be Well," "Teenage Lobotomy") sounded fresh, frenetic, fun and especially funny, unlike "I Don't Care," which reads like a suicide note written in her lipstick and left on the windowsill. The demo/outtake flotsam is better on the other reissues, but that's mostly because it's impossible to improve on perfection, crystallized in Tommy's four glorious every-drum-at-once beats that kickstart the last chorus of "Rockaway Beach," which rivals the first three minutes of the Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'?" as the most astounding, gut-wrenching, giddy, grand and life-affirming rock and roll moment ever. Gabba gabba get it before it gets you."
Do you need the re-issue?
jkelly | 11/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You need the albulm, in some form or other. On this, the third of the first four classic Ramones albulms, every minute is relentless early guitar punk brilliance.But choosing between this Rhino re-issue and "All the Stuff (And More) Vol. 2" is going to be difficult for first-time buyers. The re-mastering available here highlights some craftsmanship in "Rockaway Beach", "Sheena...", and other tracks that careful listeners will appreciate. Older fans might be surprised to hear "Teenage Lobotomy" and "I Wanna Be Well" almost foreshadowing the uberproduced "End of the Century". Is this able remastering a worthy exchange for "All the Stuff... 2", which contains the entirety of "Road to Ruin" (the fourth albulm)?The best of the 'bonus tracks' on this albulm, "Slug (Demo)", is also available on "All the Stuff... 2", which makes it even more difficult to recommend this release over the earlier two-albulm collection. The booklet, with its touching Arturo Vega salute to Joey Ramone, certainly cannot contribute that much to this release's value, although it's up to Rhino's excellent standard of producing breathless nostalgia-laden hymns to the artists they clearly love as much as we do.In the end, I'm forced to say that "All the Stuff... 2" is the better buy for most. Truly dedicated fans will, however, want to pick up this albulm for the remastered quality and the four previously unreleased/unavailable tracks."