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Ramones - Halfway to Sanity (Cover Artwork)

Ramones

Ramones: Halfway to SanityHalfway to Sanity (1987)
Ramones

Reviewer Rating: 1
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Contributed by: darnyellerdarnyeller
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The Ramones are special. You're supposed to either love them or hate their guts, but merely liking the Ramones or saying, "Well, they're sort of okay" just doesn't seem like a possible perspective. At their best, the Ramones were so extreme, uncompromised, and fervently dedicated to pushing music to.
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The Ramones are special. You're supposed to either love them or hate their guts, but merely liking the Ramones or saying, "Well, they're sort of okay" just doesn't seem like a possible perspective. At their best, the Ramones were so extreme, uncompromised, and fervently dedicated to pushing music to its absolute limits of existence, that calling them mediocre or passable seems like an insult. They're either great or they're terrible: Each of these perspectives has a right to exist, and music fans all around the world are divided in two approximately equal halves based on this criterion.

Their early music, especially the debut album (once you get past the sonic blasts and the monotonousness of the sound), contains some of the catchiest melodies ever written -- don't mind if they're all stolen, because that's beyond the point. The sound -- that raging, provocative, uncompromised attack on the senses -- manages to form a sequence of melodic lines and entertain you. It is, at the same time, extremely avant-garde (for its time, at least) and a perfectly sincere, emotional, involving performance, accessible to anyone as long as that "anyone" bothers to approach it with an open mind and, what's more important, an open heart.

The Ramones would eventually fall into their own trap, of course -- with this kind of formula, even more limited than that used by AC/DC, it was pretty hard to continue for decades without failing. After four classy albums and one almost-classy one (End of the Century) began their wallow into pleasant mediocrity and vain attempts to recapture their former magic for almost two decades more.

Halfway to Sanity represents the closest that the Ramones ever got to being all-out metal, and, as a point in their substantial timeline, finds the band at their most insipid, artificial, and bipolar. Are they metal or are they punk? The Ramones themselves did not seem to know when they recorded this album.

Representing the metal side are trashy failures such as "I Wanna Live" and "I'm Not Jesus," the latter being penned by Richie, easily the worst Ramone ever. "I'm Not Jesus" rips along at a demonic pace, which, if you ask me, is ridiculous, because I can't ever see the Ramones competing with the likes of Slayer. They don't even have a proper Cookie Monster vocalist! At almost three minutes long, the song properly takes its place among the worst piles of shit the band has committed to tape.

Also in the mix is a strange `60s influence, as evidenced on forced tracks such as "Go Lil Camaro Go," "A Real Cool Time" and "Bye Bye Baby," the latter being an embarrassing girl group-type ballad. The milder the Ramones got, the more they started sounding like nothing but a lame parody of their bubblegum idols. The "pure enjoyability" factor is somewhat present, but when you deal with a band that operates on the three-chord mentality, steals most of their riffs from predecessors, and sings lyrics that are unsophisticated, you need that extra punch to make it work, and the production on Halfway to Insanity is lacking. The primal energy is gone, and even though some of the songs are passable, I can't even remember most of them afterwards.

"Bop 'Til You Drop" may be the only worthwhile song on here. Johnny's chugging guitar on the chorus is `80s metal, but then it blasts right back into three-chord heaven that reminded me of something off of Rocket to Russia. The lyrical reference to "Cretin Hop" seems like a forced attempt to recapture the greatness of their younger years, but on this album one must settle for anything that recalls those days.

Looking back at this album with a comfortable amount of hindsight, one sees that almost all of its songs are of the "look at us, we're seriously fucked" variety. Well, at least you can't accuse the Ramones of acting inadequate -- they see their problem and they feel crappy about it. "Stop this crazy carrying on," sings Joey. I have absolutely no idea why they didn't, given their evident decline. You can't say that they didn't see they were trapped inside their image, and yet they never did anything to break the vicious circle. On the other hand, who are we to say when a band should break up and when it shouldn't? The Ramones felt like it shouldn't, and that was their decision. They just couldn't imagine their fate without the Ramones -- and to break the conglomerate would be a brave and extremely risky thing to do.

Despite all that the Ramones did for music, and the four classics that they left us, as a document of music from the `80s, Halfway to Sanity rates no more than a single star.

For completists only.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
elliot (June 28, 2010)

The biggest joke of a review on this site. What a fucking moron.

lovechuck (May 28, 2010)

stop smoking the rock you assclown this cd rocks all the way a true classic .you are deaf or stupid maybe a bit of both the ramones are the kings of punk rock .how dare you forget that .....do yourself a favor and buy this master piece with great songs like death of me garden of serenity and real cool time ....love it

randomD (October 2, 2007)

'they never did anything to break the vicious circle'- hahahaha

housewrecker (October 1, 2007)

This was the first Ramones record I ever bought, when it was new. At first I thought it was ok but not great so I traded it. After getting into the Ramones via their first album and then progressing through their history I was able to give this record another chance and I found myself really liking it. I never loved this record, but in my opinion even Mondo Bizarro had some great songs on it. I personally think Go Little Camero Go is a really cool song. I never understood the "The Ramones had 4 good albums" mentality. When you're a band for that long you're going to change your style a bit and it's impossible not to get a little bit influenced by the pervasive musical movement of any point in history (ie. Kiss recording a disco song) when you're writing your zillionth album. Just my two cents but I think they deserve more respect than this review gives them.

rkl (October 1, 2007)

Posted by MonkeyFracas on 2007-09-26 10:23:17
My Score:

Terrible, terrible review. Mediocre album, but it's still the ever-lovin' Ramones. Go Lil' Camarro Go is a great tune.

so if theyre the "ever-lovin' ramones," then shouldnt they be held to a higher standard?

i know that if another band had recorded slip it in, id give it a solid 6... but b/c black flag did it and their previous library is so great, it gets a 4.

fallingupwards84 (September 28, 2007)

this review pisses me off so much, delete this shit

Ghost_of_D_Boon (September 27, 2007)

There is no such thing as a bad Ramones album. The clueless putz that wrote this review should be drawn and quartered for blasphemy and then the pieces should be shot for treason.

el_matt (September 27, 2007)

Richie Ramone is going to sue you for defamation of character.

He's probably going to ask for half a million dollars in compensations.

Holy_Balls (September 27, 2007)

The opening paragraph is a lie!

MsJustinChris (September 26, 2007)

"actually CJ was the worst ramonne. you can't fucking replace dee dee"

It was just wrong to have the Ramones without Dee Dee, but I thought CJ was pretty cool.

Ianw (September 26, 2007)

yeah that 60's pop influence sure is weird.
it's not like it's one of the defining elements of their sound.

CCSummers (September 26, 2007)

believe it or not, i think the ramones are just "okay"

maltedv0mit (September 26, 2007)

I actually went back and listened to the album again to make sure you're talking about the same album I have. Because the Halfway to Sanity I have is pretty great. Also your shitty review made me finally register and quit lurking. Now expect me to be all up in your cheetos.

MikeStupid (September 26, 2007)

How can you review Halfway To Sanity and not give a single mention to "Worm Man," pretty easily the weirdest song the band ever recorded?

Anyway, like almost all post-EOTC Ramones albums, this is pretty underrated. Not great by any means, but definitely better than the review makes it sound.

MonkeyFracas (September 26, 2007)

Terrible, terrible review. Mediocre album, but it's still the ever-lovin' Ramones. Go Lil' Camarro Go is a great tune.

NormanDEE (September 26, 2007)

Score is for your shitty review. Please spend your time doing something else.

BruceLebruce (September 25, 2007)

this album exemplifies their perserverence and never say die attitude. long live da brudders!

ashtraymonument (September 25, 2007)

actually CJ was the worst ramonne. you can't fucking replace dee dee

bigstar (September 25, 2007)

"bye bye baby" is a cover (the ronnettes & bay city rollers), which you fail to mention so that's why it sounds like a 60's girl group song. The ramones were highly influenced by the girl groups and the bay city rollers...

lushj (September 25, 2007)

Ha ha ha... I knew SOMEONE had to take the bait!

I've made it up through More Fun In The New World, which I think is incredible. Everything past that, I'm with ya. There's some glimmers of greatness in later records, but I don't "get" them, you know?

feeeding5000 (September 25, 2007)

No, Jesse, I'd say everything after "Under the Big Black Sun" is limp, country-tinged rock.

lushj (September 25, 2007)

This is one of the best later Ramones records. While reading this review, I thought I was in bizarro world or something. If this was a hater review on, say, "Mondo Bizarro" or "Acid Eaters," that's one thing & I'd probably agree with it.

But "Halfway to Sanity"? Wow. This, "Brain Drain" and "Adios Amigos" are the highlights of their post-"Too Tough To Die" records. Totally catchy, Ramones punk. Some of the songs are tougher than others, but metallic? No way dude. There was a LOT of crossover and metal bits being incorporated into former punk/hc bands at this time, but the Ramones are still playing their basic chord structure throughout.

Seriously, this review reads like someone got the first 4 Ramones records and decided, "Okay, that's it. I don't have to like or learn about or give an honest chance to anything they released afterwards. I've covered my bases so I can sound knowledgeable when I post on Rolling Stone's message board."

It's like listening to X "Los Angeles" and deciding that everything past that is just limp, lame country-tinged rock. Are you an aspiring music journalist? If so, there's a ton of uninformed editors and readers you can impress with thinking like that.

fallingupwards84 (September 25, 2007)

yea and the reference to Slayer having "cookie monster vocals" is ridiculous. fuck this guy.

fallingupwards84 (September 25, 2007)

so the uninspired boring Motion City Soundtrack gets an 8/10 on this website, and the Ramones get a 2/10

the song I Wanna Live alone makes this album better than 2/10
score is for the review

jedimonkey (September 25, 2007)

Slayer doesn't user "cookie monster" vocals...schmuck

TheMike (September 25, 2007)

I love the Ramones, and this has some catchy tunes. But not enough. It also has no flow are feeling.

branden (September 25, 2007)

i like this one.

TheOneTrueBill (September 25, 2007)

I'd say this is my least favorite Ramones album but definitely not a 2/10. Come on. It's at least a five, maybe a six on the right day. There are some really good songs on here.

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