Thursday, November 03, 2011

Top 50 Albums, #39 - "Rocket to Russia," The Ramones

For years, I have contemplated the question: what exactly is it that puts “Rocket to Russia” head and shoulders above all other Ramones albums?

This may be a slight exaggeration to make a point (but only just), but when you bought a Ramones album, you knew exactly what you were getting. An album with 14 songs, lasting about 29 minutes, featuring guitar-based rock played at breakneck speed. There might be a “ballad” or two thrown in, but if there was, that just meant a fast song lasting three minutes.

The Ramones produced a lot of great songs over their years, but in my book they never had an album – not even the debut, though I know it has many partisans – that approached the success and the brilliance of “Rocket to Russia.”

The album is a masterpiece of minimalism, and features two songs that are among the greatest in the history of rock ‘n roll – “Rockaway Beach,” and of course, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.” Whether you want to call it punk rock (I wouldn’t), new wave (that doesn’t really fit either), or just plain ol’ classic rock (and I don’t mean “classic rock” in the way that modern radio defines it), “Sheena” is a magnificent song, a brilliant expression of what things felt like as this new type of music, whatever you want to call it, began to hit the airwaves (in some places) and the record stores.

Well New York City really has it all
Oh yeah, oh yeah

It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Rocket to Russia (1977) Produced by Tony Bongiovi

Cretin Hop/Rockaway Beach/Here Today, Gone Tomorrow/Locket Love/I Don’t Care/Sheena Is A Punk Rocker/We’re a Happy Family/Teenage Lobotomy/Do You Wanna Dance?/I Wanna Be Well/I Can’t Give You Anything/Ramona/Surfin’ Bird/Why Is It Always This Way?

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