48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2001
Don't listen to the likes of Legs McNeil (whose inappropriate liner notes all but damn this album as some kind of sell-out. Note to Rhino: why be so apologetic?). The fact is, you can pretty much defend any Ramones album as being their best, well beyond the indisputable classics of the 1970s (my other favorites - "Halfway to Sanity," "Brain Drain," and "Adios Amigos," none of which are considered great by allegedly in-the-know rock critics). In many ways, "Road to Ruin" is their best album, the one that truly marks the end of an era for the band, their euphoric highs with their disenchanted lows. It mixes strung-out nihilism with gooey bubblegum so deftly that its simplicity, once again, somehow managed to fly way over people's heads. In any case, the greatest punk was founded on bubblegum aesthetics, and the Ramones knew this better than anyone on the planet at the time...and "It's A Long Way Back" is the greatest album closer ever.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2005
Contrary to what some fans and critics believe, "Road to Ruin" is not the last great Ramones album. It is, however, the final album of the band's classic period. It's also the sound of a band trying hard to bust out of the cult basement, maybe realizing that the stripped-to-the-bones punk sound of its first three LPs wasn't going to crack the Top 40 after all.
Which is not to say that "Road to Ruin" is a sellout. Sure, there are a pair of tunes ("Don't Come Close" and "Questioningly") that veer far away from the Ramone-defining buzzsaw guitar sound. But, given the band's obvious love for bubblegum and 60s pop, even the (stellar) cover of "Needles and Pins" doesn't seem such a stretch.
And the rest of the tunes? Well, they're the kind of full-on, jet-fueled rockers you'd expect from the Ramones, but with just a dose of the grim realization that the years ahead may not be filled with limos, champagne and other perks of rock stardom. There are nods to punk boredom ("I Just Wanna Have Something To Do"), an angry kiss-off ("I Don't Want You") and rock's all-time most cryptic ode to angst and desparation ("It's a Long Way Back.") In the hands of a lesser band, such sentiments could result in a depressing record, indeed. But if the Ramones knew anything, it was how to write a catchy tune. And on "Road to Ruin," their pop sense overpowers any hint of punk negativity from start to finish. Along the way, we even get some boy-meets-girl Ramones ("She's the One") and the closest thing the band has probably ever had to a Classic Rock/FM Radio staple ("I Wanna Be Sedated"). And, like the songs themselves, the production of "Road to Ruin" foreshadows future Ramones releases. It's a more muscular sound than on the first three albums with bigger drums, louder guitars.
The Ramones did in fact have more great albums up their leather sleeves in the ensuing years, but for any fan, it's hard not to see "Road to Ruin" as a turning point. This is probably the first album on which the Ramones understood that they had become THE RAMONES - and that any respect this brought was met in equal measure with heartache, inner turmoil and the indifference of the record-buying public. It's the first album on which the band toyed just a bit with its formula in search of a hit, and the last on which the boys reasonably hoped they might go gold without resorting to more extreme, Spectorized measures. And it was probably the last album the Ramones recorded before figuring out that to make a go of this punk rock thing, they'd have to earn their bread and butter by keeping an ungodly tour schedule - a neverending series of one-nighters they'd keep up till damn near the end of their lives. Road to ruin, indeed.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2000
"Road to Ruin" is the penultimate Ramones album. While the songs may be considered by many to be too "pop" by punk standards, there can be no denying that it contains several classic tracks.
The album kicks off with the raucous and catchy "I Just Wanna Have Something To Do". The guitar work is instantly recognizable as that of Johnny Ramone. Joey's vocals are dead on. Dee Dee and Marky provide some of the best rhythm sections on this song.
What follows is a fantastic roller coaster ride of timeless classics from those four boys from Forest Hills, Queens. "I Wanted Everything", "Go Mental" and "I'm Against It" feature some of Joey's more entertaining vocals.
The Ramones anthem of "I Wanna Be Sedated" makes its appearance here. What else can you say?! A gem of a song. The song that most probably inspired every other punk band in the world to pick up a guitar and learn three chords. It is also the song that the band is perhaps best known for.
My clear-cut favorite on Road to Ruin is "Questioningly". The Ramones proved time and time again throughout their career that they could not only perform hard core punk; but, that they were also able to create a ballad that paints a dynamic picture. This is my entry for the best ballad they ever did.
This perennial disk from the Ramones is far too good to be only available as an import. It should be part of their standard catalog. If you get a chance...pick this one up. It's a must own album for any fan of the Ramones!!
Gabba Gabba Hey!!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2004
It seems to be, sadly enough, that the Ramones are more popular now with the mainstream than ever. Now that three members are dead, Ramones fans are sprouting up all over the place. With the death of Joey, Dee Dee, and now Johny, everyone is getting hooked on 'Ramones Mania'. Too bad Frank Zappa didn't also get the recognition he deserved after his death, but that's another subject.
If you are one of the 'Joey or Johny come latelys' and have already purchased Ramonesmania and the double CD boxset, you may be interested in their actual albums. If so, Road to Ruin is a popular choice among die hard Ramoners as their best album.
It goes without saying that "I wanna be sedated" is the most popular Ramones song (my personal favorite is Shock Treatment). It's here along with "I just wanna have something to do." But for songs that didn't make their 'greatest of' packages, you can discover great material like 'Go Mental', 'I don't want you', and 'Needles and Pins'. For years I thought Needles and Pins was a Ramones original. You learn something new everyday.
Well the original punks may be gone, but they'll never be forgotten. Don't embarress yourself with only greatest hits CDs. Show everyone you're true blue and buy one of their actual albums.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2005
Much like The Clash's London Calling, Road To Ruin is The Ramones' standout album and boasts some of their biggest hits. Road To Ruin showcases the band at the peak of their 20-year career, way back in 1977. The Ramones' fourth release contains hits such as "She's The One" and the infamous "I Wanna Be Sedated", and I'm happy to report that there are absolutely no filler tracks on this record, which is rare for an album that has 17 songs on it.
It's probably a waste of time, but being the obsessive compulsive person that I am, I feel the need to pinpoint the band's talent. From Dee Dee's hypnotic basslines and poignant lyrics, to Joey Ramone's sour yet irresistable vocal delivery, to Tommy, the backbone of the band, Road To Ruin has no weak spots. (And don't even let me get started with the guitar...I swear, Johnny Ramone could do more with 3 or 4 chords than anyone of his time.)
The Ramones were one of the greatest and most influential bands ever, and although almost none of their tracks were over 2 and a half minutes long, every one of their songs were catchy, upbeat, well-structured, and most importantly, fun to listen to. Pick up Road To Ruin now!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2005
When I'm elected President of the United States, my first act will be to provide every American with a copy of "Road To Ruin." Even an old aficionado of hippy music like me understands that the Ramones are one of America's great rock and roll treasures. In fact, they were the last truly great American rock band. This is the album to hear if you doubt my words. Put this one in your CD player and turn it way up. You'll soon forget about death metal, grunge, rap and all that other crap that kids listen to these days. You'll be taken back to the fun and innocence of the mid-sixties reinvented into slamming, rocking anthems for more modern times. Road to Ruin combines some of the Ramones very best rockers with three very well-done ballads, including an excellent remake of "Needles And Pins" by The Searchers. The sound quality of this album is superb and I believe there are some studio musicians at work in the background. My opinion of the Ramones recorded output is that there were a few great songs on every album, which added up to an impressive catalog overall, but Road To Ruin is the only one that kills it from beginning to end. It's hard to believe that three of the Ramones are gone already. They named a street in New York City for Joey Ramone. The least you can do is buy a copy of Road To Ruin in his honor. (Don't wait for me to be elected President.)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
If you don't like the Ramones, you don't like rock and roll. I don't know how else to say it. If you are tired, sad, or having trouble getting started in the morning, put this cd in and get going to a better, brighter, more blitzkreig-y kind of day. This was my introduction to the band and still my favorite, although the debut is fantastic as well. It's A Long Way Back, I Just Want To Have Something To Do, I Wanna Be Sedated, the list just goes on and on...all killer stuff. Even though some of the hardcore fans decried the 'ballads,' (let's face it, latter day Aerosmith drivel these ballads ain't - thank God), they are just being purists. Every single song on here is great and that's something very few bands can say about any one of their records.
The Ramones took the pop formula and crushed it with Johnny's down strokes and the sneering nasal charm of Joey's impassioned vocals. Honestly, if you don't like this band, I don't value your musical opinion.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2005
I eagerly awaited the release of the "classic' Ramones album, "Road To Ruin" way back in the day. When it came out, I was surprised by the "slick" cartoon-like album cover, first of all. AND, who was this "Marky" guy, anyway?
I opened up the album, slapped the vinyl (yes, VINYL) onto my cheap $20 turn-table, and book! Here it was!
Okay, first of all, the production was arguably the best of the first four Ramones albums. We got a slight taste of it with the then import only live album "It's Alive", produced by the classic soundmaster Ed Stasium. Stasium had a bit to do with "Rocket To Russia" as well, but the credit for that album goes mostly to Tommy Ramone. Anyways, before I rate the songs, I should note that "Road To Ruin" is absolutly crunching when it comes to the guitar sounds, and the drums are hard hitting and heavy. So THAT's who "Marky" is, I thought to myself!
Now to the actual album. "I Just Wanna Have Something To Do" is pure genius, pure Ramones. The simple yet stunning lyrics ("Hangin' out on second avenue; eatin' Chicken Vindaloo"), the steady beat, this song is the epitomy of the Ramones "sound". And songs like "I Wanted Everything", "I'm Against It" (with the classic line; "I don't like Burger King, I don't like anything"), "Bad Brain", etc, were good stuff. BUT, there was the strangly inappropriate "Questioningly", with it's COUNTRY steel guitar (which of course everyone knows that Jonhnny didn't play), and "Don't Come Close", well, I must admit that I was a bit frustrated at the time (little did I know that "End Of The Century" was less than a year away!). But now these songs make sense in the context of the fact that the Ramones were trying to "diverisfy" their sound in order to (perhaps) get that hit single that had so unfairly eluded them thus far.
It didn't work.
As any old time Ramones fan will tell you, the Ramones were the most unlucky band of all time. Their management either released the wrong song for a single (as was the case when WEA decided to release "I Wanna Live" from the so-so album "Halfway To Sanity", even thought it was released in mid-summer and "Go 'Lil Camaro, Go" was a classic "fun/car/girl" song that could have made a big hit for the Ramones), or they were quite simply way to ahead of their time for the mainstream to "get it". This is the case with "Road To Ruin".
The Sex Pistols got a lot of press and even album sales due to the fact that in their oh-so contrived "rage" they said the "f word" and sand about anarchy, nuclear submarines, dethroning the British Queen, and of course; abortions. And the Pistols only stayed together for 18 months, leaving us with basically one studio album (which, in my opinion, is the most over-rated "punk rock" record ever made), and a dead so-called "bass player". The Ramones were the band that INSPIRED the Sex Pistols, and theby never resorted to such shock value pap as "f words", abortion innuendo, and anarchy. Instead, the Ramones rallied all of us outsiders with the classic war cry "Gabba Gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us!". And it was a hell of a lot more "punk rock" to sing about selling your [...] for dope money as Dee Dee penned in the immortal "53rd and 3rd". Oh well.
So anyways, "Road To Ruin" is a good "hard rock" album, striking a "punk" chord every now and again. The sound is loud, the guitars are heavy and buzzing, and Marky, when he wasn't drunk, laid down some good beats. This album is worth having, if not for the fact that it has "I Just Wanna Have Something To Do" and "I Wanna Be Sedated" on it. Also, the "bonus-tracks" on this re-issue are nothing new; the live scene from "Rock 'N' Roll High School", a slightly different version of "I Want You Around", and one newly discovered gem, that's all. The bonus tracks on "Too Tough To Die" are the REAL revalation, man!
So if you wanna "rock out", then get this album first. You'll tap your feet, drown in country music inspired beer delirium in the nasty "Questioningly", and just basically go nuts to "Bad Brain" and "I'm Against It". BUT, if you're looking for the truly definitive Ramones sound, then start with "Rocket To Russia" and gradute to the definitve "post 70's" sound of "Too Tough To Die" (wich is, in my esteemed opinion, the Ramones overall best album).
Either way, buy all fo the reissues since you jerks didn't buy 'em while the Ramones were ALIVE, so get 'em now and show that you were really "punk rock" back when you were ACTUALLY listening to Poison, Motley Crue, and Winger!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2001
Maybe it's that I'm bummed out (still) from Joey Ramone's death. Maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic. Maybe I'm just remembering the first time I ever heard the Ramones, when I was 16, riding around suburban Chicago when a friend of mine blasted out "I Just Want To Have Something To Do" on his jambox. I can't say that a single song changed my life, but I still get shivers when I hear those first chords of that song. That's the day I started listening to punk rock, and it's fair to say my whole worldview has changed with it.
The Ramones were an American original, and "Road To Ruin" comprises some of their best work. "I Want To Be Sedated," "Bad Brain," and "Go Mental" are some hilarious takes on mental health, while "Needles and Pins" could be the best cover ever done (Joey at his finest). Maybe the best song is "It's A Long Way Back," which is comprised of the following lyrics:
You by the phone You all alone It's a long way back to Germany It's a long way back to Germany
I'll miss Joey, and I miss the Ramones, but this record is as good as any at capturing the essence of those four dudes from Queens.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2002
The best thing about CD reissues is that they offer alternate takes, live tracks and demo cuts. The worst thing about CD reissues is that they offcer alternate takes, live tracks and demo cuts.
Don't get me wrong; I'm quite thankful for the inclusion of some good live gigs and esoteric miscellany. Especially by the Ramones, of whom I can't get enough. That said, the inclusion of such additional material is often used by record companies as a come-on, as though not enough discs will sell if it's just the original album, even if remastered.
Well, suffice it to say that on "Road to Ruin" the extras are the gravy ladled atop this excellent meat and potatoes record by the Godfathers of punk in the twilight of their early days.
Joey Ramone -- requiescat en pace -- was not the Frank Sinatra of punk rock for nothing. His ideal, the Ramones ideal, of punk was a tribute to girl group, garage rock and surfer songs in cut-time, overlayed by Joey's velvet smog of a voice. This was before punk rock was "angry," the bandwagon set careening downhill at such a wild clip that even the stalwart British invasion band, The Kinks, had jumped on by 1980 with their "angry young man with thinning hair" comeback album "Low Budget."
But, let's go back to 1978 when this album came out, and punkers in the know knew instinctually that it was the Ramones, Blondie and Buzzcocks that invented and defined punk, not those poseur Johnny Rotten come latelys, the Sex Pistols, who were really the Monkees of punk.
This record was post "Never Mind the Bollocks...." but listening to the rapping of 1-2-3-4 before the tunes, to Johnny's metronome-gone-haywire rhythyms and Joey's superlative voice, you know you're hearing the real item. It opens blissfully on "I Just Wanna Have Something to Do," and before Joey even mouths the refrain, deep in your soul you're already saying "oh, yeah." It's just that kind of album that you immediately grok, to use an apt Heinleinism.
"I Wanna Be Sedated" is the most popular tune on the set, and really clues you into the fact that the Ramones aren't out to wreak havoc upon the world....they just want to get through as painlessly as possible. "Go Mental" is its sister song, and hearing Joey extend the last syllable "Go mentilllll, mentillll," always sends chills up and down my spine. Unlike any other punker, before or since, Joey understood the concept of *melody* in relating heartbreak, loneliness and alienation. His was not some ... screech of the disaffected, like the cantankerous Jello Biafra, but the wistful and sad ballad of a perenially wallflower troubador.
On the day when Sonny Bono died, and all the radio stations were playing "I Got You Babe," the college radio station in my city gave the Bobcat vest-wearing man a most fitting tribute to Bono the songwriter by spinning the Ramones' cover of "Needles and Pins." Their version had already held a soft spot in my heart, but hearing it that day was like hearing it anew, and I could hear the achingly melancholic emotions that Joey found in it that somehow eluded The Searchers in their original take.
But, lest you think that The Ramones were all serious and depressed, there is the album's true gem of social satire, "I'm Against It," which Johnny wrote as a slap in the face at the Sex Pistols and their fellow travellers, who turned punk rock from something fun, confused and searingly energetic into a mainstream marketing tool capitalizing off of disaffection with the mainstream and slick marketing. It was a sleight-of-hand that cemented the Ramones' fate as an "underground" band, but perhaps it was for the better; A quarter of a century later, the five unrelated brothers from NYC are seen as an unassailable and timeless institution, while all of their unreasonable fascimiles are remembered -- at best -- as dated anachronisms.