The Ramones were without question the fathers of punk rock, a scene that developed in the underbelly of New York City's now legendary CBGB club.
But from that dingy stage in a once crime-ridden area of the city emerged the Ramones with a brand of rock that was loud, fast, sometimes comical, but mostly fun. Mantled with an "I don't care" look and a power-chord assault of rhythm guitar, rumbling bass, and some of the most explosive drumming ever heard, the Ramones became legends to the art crowd and others wanting to escape the monotony of disco and leftover hippy bands from the 1960s.
After a couple of albums with critical approval, the Ramones launched Rocket To Russia. The album starts with Cretin Hop, which is simply another name for all those punks who loved hopping up and down on the dance floor to the loud, rhythmic onslaught of the band and others who played stripped down rock 'n' roll.
One of the Ramones' finest musical moments is the second track, Rockaway Beach, which owes its spirit to the Beach Boys. But the new power of the rhythm is all Ramones.
The iconic Sheena is a Punk Rocker appears on Rocket to Russia, along the exciting but comical Teenage Lobotomy.
The Ramones often paid tribute to older bands and musicians, which on this album is a fantastic cover of Bobby Freeman's Do You Wanna Dance.
Anticipating that this would be their breakthrough record, Rocket To Russia delivered a complete legitimacy to the punk genre. It was rock, it was pop, it was a dance record, and it was just all around a great effort. But a few odd things happened along the way, foremost being the arrival of the media circus around Britain's Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols. The public took this to be punk rock. The Ramones gained some popularity, but much of their greatness was realized after the band was finished. Thankfully, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their popularity is greater today than ever, but of the original members only the band's first drummer survives.
The version of Rocket To Russia available today includes some interesting bonus tracks. This record is mandatory for any great rock 'n' roll collection.
* David Palmer may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 256-734-2131, ext. 213.