- Road to Ruin makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- This superb recording is huge and lively with startling dynamics and in-the-room-presence like nothing you’ve heard
- 4 1/2 stars: “It’s clear throughout that Tommy and Stasium definitely had the best interests of the band in mind as they aimed the sound a little closer to the mainstream, and the changes they made served to open it up in interesting ways.”
This vintage Sire pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Road to Ruin have to offer is not hard to hear:
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1978
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Road to Ruin
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
I Just Want To Have Something To Do
I Wanted Everything
Don’t Come Close
I Don’t Want You
Needles And Pins
I’m Against It
I Wanna Be Sedated
She’s The One
It’s A Long Way Back
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
When the Ramones started work on their fourth album, Road to Ruin, in early 1978, they were in something of a bind. Their previous three albums had helped spark the punk revolution and established them as one of the greatest bands in the long and checkered history of rock & roll, but they weren’t getting the sales that their label wanted or breaking out in the mainstream the way some of their N.Y.C. compatriots like Blondie had. The Ramones also wanted those things, so they made some major moves.
One switch was personnel-based, as Tommy Ramone passed the sticks to Marc Bell, who had played with Dust and Richard Hell. Tommy stayed on as producer, though, and he and Ed Stasium enacted the biggest revamp. Once the band had laid down the basic tracks for the new batch of songs, the pair painstakingly added guitar, bass, and keyboard overdubs and mixed them to get a much fuller and polished sound. By the time they were done, sometimes barely anything from the original sessions remained. This approach worked well with the more diverse songs the band brought to the album.
Along with the usual batch of three-chord rockers (including some new entries in the I Wanna/Don’t Wanna category), they wrote jangling pop songs (“Don’t Come Close”) and melancholy ballads (Dee Dee’s painfully introspective “Questioningly”), and covered the Searchers’ “Needles and Pins” with a lightly poppy touch. The expanded arrangements work really well on these songs — the twanging bassline and keening guitar solo add a surprisingly effective country touch to “Don’t Come Close” — and they don’t dilute the powerful punch of the thundering rockers like “I Don’t Want You” and “Bad Brain.”
The classic “I Wanna Be Sedated” is a perfect example of how well the new approach worked for the band. The guitar overdubs give the song a huge sound, the massive handclaps and Bell’s thumping drums drive the beat home like jackhammers, and Joey’s voice comes through like a 1,000-watt beacon. His vocals reached their peak right around this time; he carried the faster songs with authority and dug into the ballads completely, transmitting an almost painful amount of emotion.
It’s clear throughout that Tommy and Stasium definitely had the best interests of the band in mind as they aimed the sound a little closer to the mainstream, and the changes they made served to open it up in interesting ways…