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Friday, 22 September 2017

Revisiting: Road To Ruin - Ramones (1978)

Road To Ruin - Ramones
Produced by Tommy Erdelyi and Ed Stasium
Released 22nd September 1978
US Chart #103
UK Chart #32

Side 1

Side 2
    Joey Ramone – lead vocals
    Johnny Ramone – guitar
    Dee Dee Ramone – bass guitar, backing vocals
    Marky Ramone – drums

Singles On Road To Ruin
A-Side: Don't Come Close
B-Side: I Don't Want You
 Released June 1978 (US)
Did Not Chart
Released as a Limited Edition 12" on Red Vinyl in the UK

And on 12" and 7" Limited Edition Yellow Vinyl in The UK
A-Side: Don't Come Close
B-Side: I Don't Want You
 Released 15th September 1978
UK Chart #39

(German 7" Picture Sleeve)

A-Side: Needles & Pins
B-Side: I Wanted Everything
Released February 1979 (US)
Did Not Chart

(Japanese 7" Picture Sleeve)
A-Side: Needles & Pins
B-Side: I'm Against It

A-Side: She's The One
B-Side: I Wanna Be Sedated
Released 19th January 1979 (UK)
Did Not Chart

Other Releases
 A-Side: I Wanna Be Sedated
B-Side: I Don't Want You
Released 1979

A-Side: She's The One
B-Side: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Released 1978

"Road to Ruin reflected not just the Ramone's enduring love for Sixties pop, but a nagging desire to expand beyond the confines of 120 seconds in search of a new vocabulary of harmonic hooks, albeit linked to the guitar-crunching sonics established on their first three albums."- Tommy Ramone
Studio Album number four for the Ramones and the first one that Tommy had sat out of playing on. He put away his sticks in order to once again do what he had intended at the start and that was to produce the band.

Marc Bell, who had formerly played in Richard Hell and the Voidoids (he had played on the Blank Generation Album) and Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys (no, not that Backstreet Boys!) took over the Drum Stool. Three weeks after joining the band and becoming Marky Ramone the recording of Road To Ruin begun.

What should have been one of their biggest albums "was a flop Stateside, even though it had been a very deliberate attempt to secure American radioplay" (Tommy Ramone). Outside of their homeland it faired better as they reached their highest position in the UK album chart with it (#32, though End of the Century in 1980 would surpass that by peaking at #14). Critical acclaim for the album would be a long time coming though among the fans (especially the ones I know) it is looked upon quite fondly.

There was a more poppy sound to this album than the previous three, which was a topic for great discussion (and still is) among fans of the band. This has ballads and goodness me, is that Acoustic Guitars I can hear? Doesn't exactly sound what we envisage a punk rock album to be like! But, I have to say I do have a fondness for Road To Ruin. The only track I'm not overly keen on is Bad Brain (that one seems to be mentioned by loads of reviewers as a weak link). It does contain a few of their classic songs that have stood the test of time: I Just Want To Have Something To Do, I'm Against It, I Wanna Be Sedated and She's The One. Interesting choice of cover version as well -the Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche song Needles & Pins. The song had been a minor hit in the US for Jackie DeShannon in 1963 and then in 1964 it was a #1 single for The Searchers (and hit #13 in the US). I can understand why it was chosen because Joey especially had a real fondness for 1960's pop and whilst it was a bit leftfield for the Ramones I think they pulled it off great (it was a hundred times better than the version Smokie had done!).

If you had thought a more "mellower" Ramones in the studio would translate to a more "mellower" Ramones on stage then you would be clearly wrong. Nine days before the release of the album they were on the Musikladen TV show in Bremen, Germany where they performed a 24 song set that included 5 from the up and coming album. It was clear proof that the "brothers" had not gone sawft (as they say in New York)!

13th September 1978

Don't Come Close (Old Grey Whistle Test 1978).
Don't Come Close (28th September - Top of the Pops 1978).

This post has been re-edited from a post originally published last year with an updated album playlist and some additional information.
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