If you look back and think, 1978 really was the death of punk. The Sex Pistols imploded, the Clash recorded an album with a Blue Oyster Cult producer, Blondie was playing dicsco, and the Ramones "were playing country
songs, for God's sake!" At least, all of this was the common punk's thoughts on what was going on around them. Road to Ruin
shows signs of maturity and stylistic changes, as the band strives to be commercially succesful in a world that turned against punk, until the 90s. The album even contains some solos.How about them apples? Tommy Elderlyi and Ed Stasium produce, giving Road to Ruin
a large, anthemic-type sound that sounds commercial, but still gives the songs an edge. In place of Tommy, who left the Ramones in early 1978 to become a full-time producer, is Mark Bell, otherwise known as Marky Ramone. His drumming is fairly similar to Tommy's, though it is a bit varied and more interesting.
As I stated earlier, Road to Ruin
signifies several changes in the band's sound and approach to songs. Along with the crisp, beefy production, there are plenty of acoustic ballads, showing a new, refreshing side to a band usually thought of as a one-trick pony. Songs like "Don't Come Close" and the Searchers cover "Needles and Pins" don't strive too far from the bands original bubblegum approach, with shimmering acoustic guitars. "Needles and Pins" in particular, is a heart-wrenching, melodramatic love song, and quite possibly one of Joey's best performances. "Questioningly" is the most controversial song here, with an obvious country and western feel to the song (and even references to whiskey). The song is one of the best here, with Joey pouring his heart out over the acoustic backdrop, and brief, melodic guitar solos.
The rest of the album, though, is the same old song and dance. Johnny's guitar sound is beefend, churning out fiery power-chord after fiery power-chord. "I Just Want to Have Something to Do" is another ode to teenage boredom, one of the trademark topics of the band. "I Wanna Be Sedated" is the closest thing to a hit that the band has ever had, easily recognizeable, with chugging guitars and Joey singing about the boredom of touring, and yet making it sound so joyous at the same time. That's the genius of the Ramones. "She's the One" bops along at a frantic pace, providing another bubblegum-punk barn burner, while "It's A Long Way Back" is a sad, depressing ending to the album, with descending chord progressions, and a melodic guitar lead midway through. Other than that, well, the sogns aren't that good. Songs like "I'm Against It" and "Bad Brain" are dreadfully boring and stupid, as is the case with "Go Mental," probably the worst song on the album. These uninspired loads of crap hold the album down from being truly great, and it's upsetting to see these on the same album as the others. For shame.
So, what else can I say about Road to Ruin
? As I have stated earlier, the album shows that the band was struggling for commercial success, and they still failed. They went on to produce great albums, contrary to popular belief, which stemmed from the commercial appeal of this album. From here, the Ramones went on to produce End of the Century
, voted one of the best album of 1980 by Rolling Stone, and was produced by the legendary Phil Spector. Though many people think of Road to Ruin
as a sellout, and the beggining of the end for the Ramones, I think of it as a bridge to somewhere even greater. It's sad to think that that bridge collapsed so quickly, though.
If You're Feeling Sinister:
"I Just Want to Have Something to Do"
"Don't Come Close"
"Needles & Pins"
"I Wanna Be Sedated"
"It's a Long Way Back"