Thursday, 31 May 2018
The Ramones - Pleasant Dreams (1981)
Released July 1981
Recorded at Media Sound Studios, New York City
A “crossroads” album for The Ramones. Hiring ex-10 cc guitarist Graham Gouldman to produce the album, hoping for more commercial success, it resulted in conflict between band members Joey and Johnny, the latter who wanted the band to concentrate on the raw punk of their first three albums, whereas the singer preferred the more poppier sound to be found here.
Tracks like “She’s A Sensation”, “7-11” and the mystifying “The KKK Took My Baby Away” are actually melodic, exciting power pop type songs as indeed is “It’s Not My Place (In The 9 to 5 World)”. Even musically punkier tracks like “You Didn’t Mean Anything To Me” and “We Want The Airwaves” have a lighter, tuneful delivery. The harder songs are closer to Black Sabbath-style hard rock than punk, to be honest. The poppy handclaps are omnipresent, however.
This album is really nothing like the first three albums at all (certainly not the first two). Although you can still tell it is The Ramones, even Joey’s voice seemed to carry a different timbre now, trying to be more like his beloved 60s pop.
Music media reaction, on the whole, was negative, feeling the band had “sold out” “gone pop” and the like. This is slightly unfair, one feels. What were The Ramones supposed to do? Produce annual replicas of their first album for the foreseeable future? Had they done so, they would attracted negative feedback for doing just that.
Personally, I have always quite enjoyed this album, although I fully accept that the previous five are the five essential Ramones albums. Here is where their output becomes non-essential.