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Rocket to Russia

4.6 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Rocket To Russia
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Vinyl, July 17, 2012
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (July 17, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hi Horse Records
  • ASIN: B008C2H2EU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)

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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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!
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Format: Audio CD
The best thing I can say about this record is that it is so eminently danceable, beginning with "Cretin Hop." This album is chock full of good, fun, songs, that hailed from a time when punk was still tongue-in-cheek enough not to take itself seriously as some kind of "social movement."
"Rockaway Beach" brings back memories of much of my childhood spent there. It's the ultimate surfer song spoof, not about California, but the filthy beaches along the outer borough of Queens, on the rotting boardwalks...stepping on pop tabs in the sand, and swimming in diluted sewage.
"I Don't Care" is Joey's hepcat to British Invasion rock as he affects a limey cockney whine. "We're a Happy Family" is reality radio a quarter century before the farce of "reality TV." Sort of a harbinger to the Bundys.
"Teenage Lobotomy" is also prescient, predicting almost word-for-word personages such as 'n'Sync and Backstreet Boys and their nubile, airheaded, fans.
However, the gem of this one is the bonus tracks "Needles and Pins" (a nice salute to the now late Sonny Bono, who wrote it, and who never knew what a great song he wrote until the Ramones put it down on wax) and the stripped down demo for "I Don't Care."
This is my second favorite, right behind "Road to Ruin," but about 10 of their albums can easily make that cut.
Joey and Dee Dee, your hard work and dedication to rock and having a good time have not been in vain.
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