The Ramones were masters of the punk rock movement in the 1970s, and Rocket to Russia -- their third album -- showcases not just their punk chops but their other talents as well.

Rocket to Russia has plenty of the Ramones' fast delivery (no song reaches three minutes) and and the anger and repetition familiar to punk.  There's the destruction of the family unit in "We're a Happy Family," the lack of interest in anything in "I Don't Care" ("I don't care about this world/I don't care about that girl"), the world of not having material goods in "I Can't Give You Anything," and support for the societal underdogs in "Cretin Hop" and "Sheena is a Punk Rocker."

But there's more going on with the album.  There's a loving feel to romantic ballads ("Locket Love"), teens hanging out ("Rockaway Beach") and the joy of dancing.  ("Do You Wanna Dance?")  There's also a wicked sense of humor in many of the songs, whether it's opening a song by shouting "LOBOTOMY!" ("Now I guess I'll have to tell 'em/that I got no cerebellum") , the fun little rhymes ("LSD, golly gee") or the pitch-perfect cover of "Surfin' Bird."

Detractors of the Ramones could say a lot of the songs sound awfully alike musically -- but there's plenty of variety to be found on Rocket to Russia.  All these years later, the album still remains tremendous fun.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch


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