By 1977, the punk scene had exploded. It began on the lower east bowery in New York City, in clubs like CBGBs, and spread across to the United Kingdom, where bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash were starting to make a racket. After Johnny Ramone had heard the single release of "God Save the Queen," he was ready to record the next album, and prove to the people that were "ripping them off" who the real punks were. Rocket to Russia
was mainly written on the road throughout late 1977, and released the same year as their second album, Leave Home
. Rocket to Russia
is the Ramones' best album. Every one of the songs on here is perfect, and none of them fail to impress me. The Ramones were the true masters of simplicity.
Rocket to Russia
possesses a very clean, well-produced sound. This is very evident from the beggining, and is an obvious progression from Ramones
to Leave Home
, which had better production values, and then to this. Joey's voice is at his most melodic and queer, hiccuping the lyrics with an odd, British sounding voice. On the Trashmen cover "Surfin' Bird," he even does some odd noises, and perfects the very 50s and 60s "pa pa mow mow" lyric. Johnny's guitar sound is still ferocious, with constant down-stroking, but it sounds much cleaner and smoother than before, which adds to the perfect pop sensibilities of the songs. Dee Dee's bass playing is fluid and always plays the root note to what Johnny is playing, another example of the sheer simplicity of their playing. Tommy's drumming is the trademark *doo chh*, with swirling cymbals that almost sound like a whole 'nother effect.
The album kicks off with the joyfully stupif "Cretin Hop". There is a brief guitar intro, with the band coming in full swing eventually. Joey's singing is absolutely wonderful, with such joyful lyrics like "There's no stoppin' the cretins from hoppin', yeah". "Rockaway Beach" is quite possibly one of the greatest Ramones songs, about the rather filthy beach where junkies hung out, and they seem to make it sound like the greatest place in the world, which is the whole brilliance of the surf-punk song, as is "Sheena is a Punk Rocker," which is another great, surf-rock song, and is very siliar to "Rockaway Beach". "Here Today, Gone Tommorow" is a slow love ballad, with, *gasp*, a solo. Dont' worry, though, because it's very brief and short. "We're a Happy Family" is about a dysfunctional family, which every member, except Tommy, grew up in. The song is one of the funniest Ramones songs, with lyrics like "Sittin' her in Queens / eating refried beans / we're in all the magazines / gulpin' down Thorazines". "Do You Wanna Dance" is the other cover, alongside the campy surf-punk "Surfin' Bird," and is a Beach Boys cover, further representing their obsession with 60s surf music, which people tend to forge. To me, the Ramones are the Beach Boys on steroids. At least, they were at this point. "Teenage Lobotomy" is another Ramones classic, with an instantly recognizable drum intro, and the chanting of "Lobotomy!". The lyrics are absolutely distasteful, as anyone would espect from a song called "Teenage Lobotomy". Rocket to Russia
is quite possibly the
quintessential punk album. It represents everything that the Ramones had to offer; dumb lyrics, catchy melodies, the constant barrage of guitars, everything. Everyone should own this album.