Why is Ramones’ Road to Ruin on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
A thoroughly non-sedating blast of old school punk rock.
Some stats & info about Ramones – Road to Ruin
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Rock Music, Punk Rock, New York Bands, New Wave, Old School Punk
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Road to Ruin released? 1978
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #738 out of 1,000
Ramones’ Road to Ruin on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Ramones’ Road to Ruin mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I tried to come up with the first Ramones song that I ever heard, and to the best of my recollection it must be “I Wanna Be Sedated.”
But I’m pretty sure that I heard about the Ramones before I actually heard them, and I believe it was by way of Howard Stern talking about them on his (now) old terrestrial radio show in New York.
I was born in Queens, New York, mostly grew up further east on Long Island, and then lived in Queens – Astoria to be more precise – before departing for California and the west coast. The Ramones are from Queens’ Forest Hills neighborhood, which by the time I was a young adult was one of the nicest areas of Queens but by way of how the Ramones tell it was more of a hardscrabble upbringing.
At a certain point in my young adulthood, I decided to get more “serious” about exploring the “history” of punk rock music, and in my somewhat limited (at the time) estimation, there was the UK punk rock scene, as represented by The Clash and the Sex Pistols, and then there was the U.S. scene, as best represented by New York City’s own Ramones.
Trying to listen to “I Wanna Be Sedated” with fresh ears in 2022, I’m struck by how melodic and pleasing it is. There’s punk rock attitude (especially in terms of the lyrics) and punk rock tempo, but there’s a heavy and very conscious influence of a range of 1950s and 1960s garage rock bands here. And it all just works seamlessly. It’s a perfect song at two minutes and nine seconds.
That conscious callback to their influences is never clearer than on the gorgeous (a gorgeous Ramones song? Yep!) “Needles and Pins,” a cover of The Searchers that dates back to 1963.
Here’s The Searchers’ version. While it’s quite good, it’s pretty remarkable what The Ramones were able to do with it in terms of making it their own.
“I Just Want to Have Something to Do” is a great deep cut and has what I think of that classic Ramones sound: a little grittier than “I Wanna Be Sedated” but maintains a core melodic quality, with chugging guitars (plus fantastic, deceptively simple guitar hook) and great vocals from Joey Ramone.