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"Pleasant Dreams" is the 6th studio album by American punk rock band, Ramones. It was released in 1981 on Sire Records and produced by Graham Gouldman. The line-up for the album was Joey Ramone (vocals), Johnny Ramone (guitar), Dee Dee Ramone (bass/vocals) and Marky Ramone (drums).
Coming a year after the Phil Spector produced "End of the Century", "Pleasant Dreams" was released at a time when things were not going too well in the band. Joey and Johnny were not talking to each other, after Joey's girlfriend had left him for Johnny and the Ramones had to attempt to record an album that could overshadow the shambles that Spector created.
"We Want the Airwaves" begins the album and straight away gets rid of the shackles placed there by Phil Spector with a fun punk rock song that lets Johnny loose as far as creativity on guitar riffs go. It's a song about how the radio will play any old rubbish but when it comes to bands like the Ramones, the stations shy away and hide in their corners. They're basically saying that real music will die if they don't get any air time.
"All Quiet on the Eastern Front" begins as a singing duet between Joey and Dee Dee in parts as they take turns in singing the lines before Joey takes over the lead vocals. The song is in regards to a typically quiet day in Queens, New York, when there is nothing to do but watch people and the way they go about their lives. I like this track because Dee Dee finally has some vocal input and the drum beat is nice and fluent.
"The KKK Took My Baby Away" is one of the finest punk rock songs ever, but is a song that may not have even come around had certain events not happened. It's really about how Joey's ex-girlfriend, Linda, left him for Johnny. He's not saying Johnny is a KKK member, but he's saying that the two were so far apart politically, that he put them both together to make it sound like he's not being so obvious as to what it's about. I really like the vocal harmony on the chorus of this song, and the guitar sounds great, too. This is my favourite record on the album.
"Don't Go" is another song written by Joey about the break-up of his relationship with Linda, with the lyrics relating to how he doesn't (or didn't) want her to leave and what she meant to him. Musically, the guitar is strangely subdued on this song, and I'm wondering if that's a coincidence or if that's how Joey wanted it. It's an interesting song with a heart-warming chorus that keeps you guessing how both Joey and Johnny managed to continue to work together.
"You Sound Like You're Sick" deals with lazy people who want to remain on benefits for the rest of their lives and won't lift a finger to look for a job. The narrator is saying that while he has no problem wanting to help, he can only go so far and you have to do the rest. The guitar riff is very meaty on this song and it's backed by the timely bass of Dee Dee.
There's a true story attached to "It's Not My Place (in the 9 to 5 World)", in that Joey's parents would tell him to stay in school or he won't get a good 9 to 5 job, when all he wanted to do was play music. I guess he put them in their place because he made something out of his life in music. The song is a fun and boppy number that's not particularly heavy but still has some great elements to it.
"She's a Sensation" is one of my favourite songs on the album. It's a song written by Joey and is another one of the continuing Joey/Linda/Johnny saga that's been recurring on this album. The lyrics are written with a lot of heartache and sung with passion. Johnny throws in some different riffs throughout the song which shows him in a different light of versatility instead of being a three-chord wonder. The vocal harmony which ends the song is wonderful.
"7-11" has a be-bop sound to it and was written by Joey where a boy meets and falls in love with a girl. They go to the video games arcade to play Space Invaders then the record store where the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" was playing. Then they decide to go dancing and drive home after a romance-filled night before she drops him off at home. As she's driving down the street, she's hit by another car head on and doesn't make it. Joey sings this one as if he's the narrator but as far as I know this never happened.
"You Didn't Mean Anything to Me" is a brilliant punk rock song with an excellent bass line that compliments the drums and guitar perfectly. Joey's vocals sound really good, too, and although the chorus is merely the title of the song repeated twice, it still has a very classy harmony to it. There's a bit of rock and roll in this song - Jerry Lee Lewis or Eddie Cochran would have sounded good playing this one.
"Come on Now" is your typical punk rock infused pop song with a heavy hitting chorus that gets you bopping. It's not a brilliant song to be honest, but the band sounds sincere when playing it and there's a sort of solo by Johnny in there, too. Overall it's probably my least favourite on the whole album.
"This Business is Killing Me" has traces of early Ramones on the song with a great sounding bass, but the piano in there doesn't fit. I like mostly everything about it, though, as the way Joey sings it is different from most other songs he's recorded. It's a song about the music business in particular and the relentless pressure musicians are under to make money for the record companies.
"Sitting in My Room" brings the album to a close with a fun and cheerful song about being bored with nothing to do. Johnny shines on this song with some clever riffs and hooks but it's the band effort that makes me smile, and as a huge fan of the band you can't get much better than the Ramones in full swing.
In summary, "Pleasant Dreams" is everything "End of the Century" isn't. It's got some brilliant songs that are allowed the freedom to breathe without the constraints of over layering of production. However it must be noted that Johnny Ramone didn't care for it too much because of bad blood between himself and Joey at the time, which never healed.
1. We Want the Airwaves
2. All's Quiet on the Eastern Front
3. The KKK Took My Baby Away
4. Don't Go
5. You Sound Like You're Sick
6. It's Not My Place (in the 9 to World)
7. She's a Sensation
9. You Didn't Mean Anything to Me
10. Come on Now
11. This Business is Killing Me
12. Sitting in My Room
My rating: 7/10
Tracklist: 1. We Want the Airwaves 2. All's Quiet on the Eastern Front 3. KKK Took My Baby Away 4. Don't Go 5. You Sound Like You're Sick 6. It's Not My Place (In the 9 to 5 World) 7. She's a Sensation 8. 7-11 9. You Didn't Mean Anything to Me 10. Come on Now 11. This Business Is Killing Me 12. Sitting in My Room