TITLE: Rocket to Russia
YEAR RELEASED: 1977
CHART ACTION: #49 US, #60 UK
SINGLES: Sheena Is a Punk Rocker (#81 US, #22 UK), Rockaway Beach (#66 US), Do You Wanna Dance (#86 US).
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Cretin Hop, Teenage Lobotomy, Surfin Bird
LINEUP: Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An actual hit record! Well, a minor hit but Top 50 albums aren’t anything to sneeze at.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a couple of great records, the Ramones made what many consider their magnum opus. A cleaner sound, some additional chords, a few songs not just hard-and-fast, and a lot of fun made this the album of 1977, sales be damned.
From the opening cut (“Cretin Hop”), through the singles, and the album cuts tender (“Here Today, Gone Tomorrow”), nihilistic (“I Don’t Care”), and fun (“We’re a Happy Family”), this is a record for any rock fan. It’s also a value proposition with 14 cuts, with almost every cut a classic or near-classic.
The band also continued to show their love for old rock-and-roll with covers of “Surfin’ Bird” and “Do You Wanna Dance”.
This was on a trajectory to be a big hit, but then the Ramones were lumped into the ‘troubling’ punk rock genre in the UK (thanks Sex Pistols) and it stalled. But it’s still a great ride.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Tommy Ramone (nee Tommy Erdelyi) left the band after this album to focus on production.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Some live cuts, B-sides and demos.
GRADE: A+: If you buy just one Ramones album (and you must), buy this.