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Ramones - Pleasant Dreams (Cover Artwork)

Ramones

Ramones: Pleasant DreamsPleasant Dreams (1981)
Sire

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: elliotelliot
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As if the commercial leanings of End of the Century weren't uncharacteristic and jarring enough, the Ramones were forced to push their hands even further by making their next album a more desperate grab for success. And really, I should be saying that it was Joey and Sire Records who were making thi.
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As if the commercial leanings of End of the Century weren't uncharacteristic and jarring enough, the Ramones were forced to push their hands even further by making their next album a more desperate grab for success. And really, I should be saying that it was Joey and Sire Records who were making this push, with much resistance coming from Johnny. Pleasant Dreams represents the true moment when the band that Johnny believed he should be running got the furthest away from his Republican grasp, allowing itself to make a record that possessed the least amount of pure energy, which of course was a quality this band had come to build its entire reputation upon.

The record does seem to be forgotten and dismissed by most fans, even though it contains two absolute classics: "The KKK Took My Baby Away" and "We Want the Airwaves." While the former remains one of their signature songs that could convert anyone into a devotee, it's the latter that really saw the band doing something special, with a slower but forceful tempo and Johnny playing that eerie melody that put a nice spin on the basic A-F-G chord sequence they had run into the ground. Even though Johnny most certainly did not want the airwaves and did not care what the airwaves thought of his musical choices, he played it like he meant it, with a mean but melodically assured Joey belting out the band's manifesto that almost feels more like a plea. Plus, they unknowingly wrote a perfect fit for the movie Airheads, proving that they were always head of their time, even if it was for a low-grade comedy that bombed just like Pleasant Dreams.

A big problem with this record is the choice of Graham Gouldman as producer. Gouldman came from 10cc, the band responsible for "I'm Not In Love," "The Things We Do for Love," and other songs with "love" in the title that should have been an indicator to everyone involved that he had no business even touching a Ramones record. But produce he did, and the band suffered greatly for it since Gouldman neutered their sound so there was absolutely no bite to any of the instruments. Instead of being pummeled by the drums, you're lightly slapped. Instead of having your ears burned by the guitars, it's more like a bad, slow wet willy. Even though they clearly spent a lot of time working on Joey's vocals and making them sparkle and shine, that bright spot can't make up for the overall lameness that pervades the listening experience. And Phil Spector may have allowed some lame things to happen on End of the Century, but he probably wouldn't have let the bouncy "It's Not My Place" make it onto the record. You can almost hear Johnny scowling as he's forced to play along with a song that he clearly hates with every fiber of his being.

But when it came down to it, the band mostly got their act together and managed to write enough great material that saves the record from being a disappointment. "All's Quiet on the Eastern Front" just cooks along, propelled by Marky's thumping beats, and "You Didn't Mean Anything to Me" buzzes in an even more aggressive manner. When they went at it hard, no one could stop them, but those moments don't happen often here. It's certainly a poppy, lighter record in tone and subject matter, and though a couple of the really light songs don't work, the ones that do work are excellent. "Don't Go" is so simple and easy, but Joey's vocal melodies cut through with such brightness that it's not possible to deny him. If anything, Pleasant Dreams is where Joey worked the hardest and most prominently wore his influences on his sleeve, hoping that a total recall of his girl group and '60s pop leanings would be the sound that broke his band into the big leagues. But it didn't happen, and Joey quietly slipped back into his role as Johnny's singer, never to steer the band in a nicer direction ever again.

 

 
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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.
mrcips (May 26, 2012)

Best ramones album!

restaurant (July 6, 2011)

The Ramones will always have a place in my heart:D

lushj (July 26, 2010)

"She's A Sensation" is one of the Ramones best songs ever.

sheeler (July 24, 2010)

outside of the first four records, this is my favourite ramones album.

d_boons_ghost (July 24, 2010)

Yeah, I too have to take umbrage with the suggestion that Graham Gouldman wasn't a perfect choice for a producer. He was definitely better than fucking Phil Spector, add to that the fact that 10cc were a HUGE influence on the Ramones' sound and (in particular) Joey's songwriting, and I'd even go as far as to argue that Pleasant Dreams may be the best sounding Ramones record ever made. The guitars and bass are loud when they need to be, and Joey's voice is mixed in a way where it's distinct but doesn't take importance over the other instruments. As for the drums, it's not like they were ever given the spotlight on any of their other albums, so why bitch about the way they sound on Pleasant Dreams?

And like somebody else said, Joey and Dee Dee were the prime creative forces in the band for most of their existence. I have no idea where this myth about Johnny Ramone being the "leader" sprang from, but that shit needs to end.

hobbzoid (July 24, 2010)

I gotta disagree with the review. This is the absolute best Ramones LP outside of the first 4. It is damn near perfect and I listen to it lots. The producer did fine. that's the Ramones. It's what you get with all these different sounds for different LPs. Get on the bus.

pricey123 (July 23, 2010)

ive been wanting to get this album all week after having not my place in the 9 to 5 world on repeat to and from work.

raveneffect (July 23, 2010)

This album is fucking awesome. Sitting In My Room might be one of the most underrated Ramone songs if you ask me.

145Alive (July 23, 2010)

This review is crap. Pleasant Dreams is nothing short of a stunning nugget of gold outshining not only much of the Ramone's classic catalog but also anything they would record again for many years to come. To insinuate that End of The Century is a superior record shows nothing short of a complete lack of understanding of pop structure. End of the century was a thin, nearly unlistenable misstep suffering an identity crisis (with the obvious exception of both "Do You Remember R'n'R Radio and R'n'R Highschool). Pleasant dreams is a wonderful geek-punk homage to every kid who ever stayed up all night listening to records when he had nothing else. Bubblegum has ALWAYS been a cornerstone of the Ramones sound. Joey deserved more credit than he received as a creative force....(don't even get me started on the unfairness that is Dee Dee's artistic recognition). Johnny was a force to be reckoned with but he had about as much creativity as a pet rock. EVERY LAST TRACK on Pleasant Dreams finds a beautiful balance between punk rock simplicity and 1960s garage, brit-rock, bubblegum, beer, girls, fast cars, rollercoasters, disenchanted New Yorkers, and anybody who loves a melody as catchy as an infectious disease.

bastard_squad (July 23, 2010)

Love this record. Joey > Johnny.

Indecay (July 23, 2010)

I love this album.

It was actually the first Ramones record I ever owned. I bought it when I was 14 'cause it was the only Ramones album they had at my local record store. I listened the shit out it for about two years before I got my hands on their earlier albums.

half_Idiot (July 23, 2010)

This makes me want to listen to the album, which is about the best you can do with a review of older material. Good call on "All's Quiet On The Eastern Front" and "Don't Go" as underrated classics, those definitely make it into my top 50 Ramones songs.

Since I posted this in the last Ramones thread and some people seemed to not know about it, here's the Steel Reserve jingles they did in the mid-90s, including a re-appropriation of "All's Quiet..." - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCK_7hrgQwU

d_boons_ghost (July 23, 2010)

This is my favorite of the Ramones' '80s records. Everything from "We Want The Airwaves" up through "She's A Sensation" could rank in my favorites Ramones songs ever, especially "It's Not My Place (In The 9 To 5 World)." The second half is kinda weak compared to the first, sure, but aside from Too Tough To Die they never hit this kind of peak ever again.

johngentile (July 23, 2010)

Good review. I think this record is probably the best of the Ramones' "lesser albums." Honestly, I think the first five albums are absolutely bulletproof, including all of "End of the century." I get the impression that a lot of people only really like the first three records, but I think the first five are all [retty special and created something new that had no existed before.

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