If you are new to the Ramones‘ music or have always been a little curious to hear more of their catalog besides what they play on the radio, here is a list of what I feel is the band’s best five albums. Although I love just about all of the band’s studio efforts during their 22 year career, I feel that these five albums fully encapsulate the Ramones’ classic sound—a sound that has never been mimicked or reproduced since. And thank God for that.
1- Ramones (1976)
The album that started it all. The Ramones debut, released in 1976 on Sire Records, kicked off with the classic “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Widely regarded by fans, both of classic rock and punk, as the battle cry anthem of all things worth celebrating in life, it’s a 2:12 minute assault on your senses. It’s almost impossible not to sing along after the first few seconds of play. With other classics such as “Beat on the Brat”, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and “Judy is a Punk”, this debut is forever branded a classic.
2- Road To Ruin (1978)
“That’s the Ramones’ best album. Number one with a bullet!”–Riff Randall
For the Ramones fourth studio album, the band enlisted former drummer Tommy Ramone to produce the album, having stepped down from his percussion duties due to low album sales and the stress of touring. New drummer Marky Ramone entered the fold during the making of this album and proved to be a worthy replacement. Inspired by 1960s pop, the band set out to expand their sound with stronger hooks and harmonies. Opening with the mid-tempo rocker “I Just Want To Have Something To Do” on side one and with “I Wanna Be Sedated” opening side two, it’s clear that the Ramones brought their A-Game to the studio.
3- Rocket To Russia (1977)
Released in 1977 during the peak of the Punk Rock era, the band pressed forth by recording pop inspired tunes without compromising their punk rock credibility. Armed with a small recording budget, and a drummer (Tommy Ramone) who was unhappy in the band, the scrappy rockers turned out incredibly solid material such as “Rockaway Beach”, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “Teenage Labotomy.” Rocket To Russia is a highly listenable album, all the way through!
4- End of the Century (1980)
The Ramones entered into the new decade by releasing End of the Century in February of 1980. Produced by legendary wall of sound producer Phil Spector, the album possesses a more advanced technical sound, featuring heavy reverb and overdubbing. One would think that’s a bad move but the final outcome says otherwise. With enjoyable songs such as “Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio”, “Rock n Roll High School” and “Chinese Rock”, it’s hard to argue with Spector’s recording methods. It simply works here.
5- Pleasant Dreams (1981)
The band’s sixth studio album was met with dismal sales and greeted by dismissive critics, but Pleasant Dreams is a highly enjoyable album, front to back. Considering the fact that the band members hated one another and weren’t working very well together, they still churned out an amazing set of catchy songs, such as “We Want The Airwaves”, “The KKK Took My Baby Away”, “It’s Not My Place in the 9-5 World” and “She’s a Sensation.” Although the band continued to put out great songs throughout the rest of their career (ending in 1996), I feel that this was their last great full-length album packed full of gems.
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