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Road to Ruin (Ramones album)

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Road to Ruin
Ramones - Road to Ruin cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 21, 1978
RecordedMay–June 1978
StudioMedia Sound, New York, United States
Ramones chronology
Rocket to Russia
Road to Ruin
End of the Century
Singles from Road to Ruin
  1. "Don't Come Close"
    Released: 1978
  2. "Needles and Pins"
    Released: 1978
  3. "She's the One/I Wanna Be Sedated"
    Released: 1978

Road to Ruin is the fourth studio album by American punk rock band the Ramones, released on September 21, 1978, through Sire Records as LP record, 8 track cartridge & audio cassette.[1] It was the first Ramones album to feature new drummer Marky Ramone, who replaced Tommy Ramone. Tommy left the band due to low sales of previous albums as well as stress he experienced while touring; however, he stayed with the band to produce the album with Ed Stasium. The artwork's concept was designed by Ramones fan Gus MacDonald and later modified by John Holmstrom to include Marky instead of Tommy. It features the well-known track "I Wanna Be Sedated."

The songs on Road to Ruin were considered by both fans and critics as an attempt to get the band more airplay. The album incorporated musical elements which were less prominent in punk rock, such as guitar solos and ballads. The difference in style caused for mixed reviews by critics, with many pointing out that the band was trying to sell more records through a change in form. This attempt by the band failed, as Road to Ruin peaked at 103 on the Billboard 200, over 50 places behind its predecessor, Rocket to Russia.


After the band's previous album Rocket to Russia saw poor album sales, drummer Tommy Ramone left his performing position to focus primarily on producing for the band. After Tommy suggested they search for a new drummer, they began looking in New York City based clubs.[2] While at CBGBs, Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone approached Marc Bell (Marky Ramone) – who was his friend and had previously been the drummer in Richard Hell and the Voidoids – asking him if he was interested in joining the Ramones. A month after this encounter, Bell was invited by Danny Fields to audition for the band. Around twenty others auditioned to be the drummer with the band wanting Marky. Marky played "I Don't Care" and "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" and Johnny, Joey and DeeDee after the audition, wanted him in the band. Marky Ramone took over the drum throne, replacing Tommy Ramone. He continues in Tommy's style while adding a few new and needed licks.[3][4]

Three weeks after Marky joined the band, the Ramones began recording Road to Ruin in Midtown Manhattan at Media Sound Studios, the premises of a former Episcopalian Church.[5][6] Album engineer Ed Stasium explained the recording process: "After Tommy left the band, we went straight into working on the Road to Ruin album with Marky Ramone. We rehearsed with Marky, just getting it down. Then we went into the studio, recorded, and mixed the record at Media Sound. We spent a lot of money, and the entire summer, on Road to Ruin." Music critic John Young of Rolling Stone called the album's production "clean and simple", but pointed out that the track "Bad Brain" contained "funny noises" suggested by the producers in between drum beats, which prevents the song from having the humorous asperity that was intended.[7]

The artwork's concept was originated by Ramones fan Gus MacDonald, who illustrated the members performing with a lobster claw coming out of an amplifier and a snake around their feet. Following the drawing's completion, MacDonald sent it to the band and they decided to make it their Road to Ruin album cover.[8] This sketch did, however, include original drummer Tommy, so the drawing had to be modified to depict Marky instead. This alteration was undergone by artist John Holmstrom, a Punk magazine associate and designer.[8][9]

Lyrics and composition[edit]

The album introduced some characteristics which were previously unheard of in Ramones records, such as guitar solos, acoustic rhythm guitars, and ballads. These attributes were debated on by the band's fans as well as critics, who questioned whether these changes were to expand their musical fashion or the band was simply selling out and abandoning their punk rock edge.[10] Though "Bad Brain", "I Wanted Everything", and "I'm Against It" each serves as basic punk songs to intensify the behavior of the audience, the most popular tracks on the album are the pieces which part from their initial style.[10] "Bad Brain" would inspire the name of the pioneering hardcore band.

Tommy Ramone said of the album's content:

Road to Ruin reflected not just the Ramones' enduring love for the sixties pop, but a nagging desire to expand beyond the confines of 120 seconds in search of a new vocabulary of harmonic hooks, albeit linked to the guitar-crunching sonics established on their first three albums.[12]

The album opens with the midtempo piece "I Just Want to Have Something to Do", which contains lyrics pertaining to ambivalence and anomie. In the song, Joey manages to rhyme "Second Avenue" with "chicken vindaloo".[10] The next track, "I Wanted Everything", is compared to Merle Haggard's song "If We Make It Through December", being called its "punk counterpart" by Rock: A Canadian Perspective author Larry Starr.[13] "Questioningly" is a ballad focusing on failing relationships and heartbreak. "Don't Come Close" uses elements which can also be heard in country music, such as twang.[10]

"She's the One" suggests that the band will continue making records,[14] while "Needles and Pins" is a cover of The Searchers' song "Needles and Pins".[10] Rolling Stone critic Charles Young noted that the song could have easily been a joke, but was not since Joey "really puts his guts into these antiquated but beautiful lyrics and pulls it off."[15] "I Wanna Be Sedated" was written by Joey while in the hospital where he was treated for burns on his face and in his throat. The injury was the result of an exploding kettle full of boiling water which served to treat sinuses.[16] The album concludes with "It's a Long Way Back", which was written by Dee Dee and depicts his childhood in Germany.[17]


With the band's slight change in musical style, material included on the album was intended to gain a sense of mainstream acceptance, though the band members felt that this was not achieved.[10][12] Tommy relates: "Road to Ruin was a flop Stateside, even though it had been a very deliberate attempt to secure American radioplay."[12] The album's lack of commercial success showed for a negative impact on the members' morale, and this exasperation would continue into the band's future records and tours.[10] On the US Billboard 200, Road to Ruin peaked at number 103,[18] while on the UK Albums Chart it reached 32.[19] The album also debuted at 25 on the Swedish Sverigetopplistan chart.[20] The drive to sell more albums in the United States failed, which is evident when comparing the charting positions to Road to Ruin's predecessor Rocket to Russia, which peaked at 49 on the Billboard 200.[18]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[21]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[22]
Q4/5 stars[24]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[25]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[26]
The Village VoiceA[28]
Punknews.org4.5/5 stars[29]

Initially, the album received mixed reviews from critics. Roy Trakin of the New York Rocker called the album "uneven" and "sometimes lazy", and preferred Tommy's drumming style over Marky's, writing: "his light, distinctive, jazz-influenced drumming is sorely missed on Road to Ruin as Marky is of the heads-down basher school."[15] Rolling Stone critic Charles Young noted that the album is not as humorous or influential as their debut, but that the band is not at all "losing its grip."[7] He observes that the band modified their style because "dumb" people did not understand the music, while "smart" people did.[7] Young also said that "I Wanna Be Sedated" was the album's "killer cut", comparing it to "Blitzkrieg Bop", "Loudmouth", and "Cretin Hop".[7]

Critical acclaim for the album did not fully transpire until many decades after its release. AllMusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album 4.5 out 5 stars, saying the album fails to "yield the same results as the other records."[30] He examined that their music mostly repeated past formula and that since the band was still in its prime "such nondescript material sounds good, but the record has neither the exuberant energy or abundant hooks."[30] Music critic Robert Christgau wrote that the band was constantly "topping itself", and implied that each track on the album was very listenable except "Bad Brain", the theme of which he called "repetitious".

The title of Supergrass' 2005 album Road to Rouen is a reference to Road to Ruin.[31]

The hardcore punk band Bad Brains took their name from the song Bad Brain.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone, except where otherwise noted.

1."I Just Want to Have Something to Do" 2:42
2."I Wanted Everything" 3:18
3."Don't Come Close" 2:44
4."I Don't Want You" 2:26
5."Needles and Pins" (The Searchers cover)Sonny Bono, Jack Nitzsche2:21
6."I'm Against It" 2:07
Side two
7."I Wanna Be Sedated"2:29
8."Go Mental"2:42
10."She's the One"2:13
11."Bad Brain"2:25
12."It's a Long Way Back"2:20
2001 expanded edition CD (Warner Archives/Rhino) bonus tracks
13."I Want You Around" (Ed Stasium version) 3:02
14."Rock 'n' Roll High School" (Ed Stasium version) 2:20
15."Blitzkrieg Bop"/"Teenage Lobotomy"/"California Sun"/"Pinhead"/"She's the One" (Live)Ramones, Henry Glover, Morris Levy11:00
16."Come Back, She Cried aka I Walk Out" (Demo) 2:21
17."Yea, Yea" (Demo)Joey Ramone2:08


  • Tracks 13–14 first issued on Hey Ho! Let's Go: The Anthology, Rhino #75817 (7/20/99)
  • Track 15 is from the original soundtrack album Rock 'n' Roll High School, Sire #6070 (4/79). Produced and engineered by Ed Stasium. Remix engineer: Joel Soifer
  • Track 16 is Previously unreleased. Outtake from Road to Ruin sessions.
  • Track 17 was first issued on All the Stuff (And More!) Volume 2, Sire #26618 (7/91). Produced by Tommy Erdelyi, written by Joey Ramone. Recorded during demo sessions for Pleasant Dreams.


Adapted from AllMusic.[30]



Album Design-Spencer Drate

Art Director-John Gillespie

Front cover artwork-John Holmstrom

Back cover photo-Danny Fields



  1. ^ Road to Ruin at Discogs (list of releases). Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Leigh 2008, p. 183.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Leigh 2008, p. 184.
  5. ^ Bowe 2010, p. 55.
  6. ^ True 2005, p. 94.
  7. ^ a b c d Young, Charles M. (November 2, 1978). "Road to Ruin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  8. ^ a b True 2005, p. 93.
  9. ^ Leigh 2008, p. 258.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Schinder & Schwartz 2008, p. 550.
  11. ^ Bowe 2010, p. 52.
  12. ^ a b c Heylin 2005, ch. 14.
  13. ^ Starr; Waterman; Hodgson 2008, p. 200
  14. ^ Thompson 2000, p. 581.
  15. ^ a b Bowe 2010, p. 57.
  16. ^ True 2005, p. 100.
  17. ^ True 2005, p. 120.
  18. ^ a b "The Ramones US albums chart history". Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  19. ^ "The Official Charts Company - The Ramones". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  20. ^ " - Discography Ramones". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-12-23.
  21. ^ Sendra, Tim. "Road to Ruin – Ramones". AllMusic. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  22. ^ Beets, Greg (July 13, 2001). "Ramones: Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia, Road to Ruin". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  23. ^ Long, April (June 19, 2001). "Ramones : Ramones / Leave Home / Rocket To Russia / Road To Ruin". NME. Archived from the original on January 11, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  24. ^ "Ramones: Road to Ruin". Q (179): 156–57. August 2001.
  25. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2004). "Ramones". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 675–76. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  26. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  27. ^ Watts, Peter (November 2018). "Ramones: Road to Ruin: 40th Anniversary Edition". Uncut (258): 49.
  28. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 13, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  29. ^ Frankel, Ricky. "Ramones - Road to Ruin". Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  30. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Road to Ruin – Ramones". AllMusic. Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  31. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (10 August 2005). "New Supergrass LP: Born in a Barn, Literally". Retrieved 13 December 2016.