The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Brain Drain’ (1989) by The Ramones

21 Jun

By Slick Nick

It was the year 2000, Christmas day. The world would soon be partying. He had more important things on his mind.

The last few months had been a journey, a musical one. The days of only listening to Oasis and Prodigy albums seemed long gone. It was a thirst for loud, fast guitars and catchy melodies that drove him towards the burgeoning CD rack now.

He’d been studying hard as had his college friends – the A Levels would not pass themselves, after all.

Gotta have the A Levels so you can go to University, get a good job, nice home in the suburbs, Ford Mondeo, two kids…

It was a future within arms reach, and he’d be taking punk music along for the ride as well. Bands like Greenday, Offspring, Rancid and most treasured of all, The Ramones. These bands would never make crap music, would they?

He sat in his bedroom, Nesquik in hand, surverying this year’s payload from good ol’ Kris Kringle. Bad Religion’s ‘Suffer’ and ‘Generator’ albums lay at the side of the desk; they could wait. ‘We’re Outta Here’, the final Ramones show, sat close by in compact disc format; he’d bide his time, savour the rest of their discography, before enjoying that one. What he really wanted to do was play ‘Brain Drain’, their 1989 studio album he’d just recieved. The disturbing cover was alluring, and suggested an unforgettable listening experience. He couldn’t wait.

Merry Christmas.

He knew little of the band’s story but took simple pleasure in their early work. These short, catchy punk songs struck a bar chord with him. He’d always have the Ramones on when writing psychology essays.

He removed the seal of ‘Brain Drain’ and placed the CD in the stereo, a cheap device that would surely struggle to cope with the power of what would be unleashed. If the Ramones were close to the bone in the seventies, how extreme would they have become by the late eighties?

He pressed ‘play’.

A strange sensation washed over him, strange because he’d never felt it before whilst playing a Ramones album. It was a feeling he only got whilst listening to extremely shit music.

It’s punk, Jim, but not as we know it.

He laughed out loud at the thought. The eighties drum sound was unavoidable, but the problems ran far deeper into the heart of the album. It was fundamentally bad song-writing.

Opener ‘I Believe In Miracles’ was far too slow to begin a Ramones album, sounding tired and old compared to the likes of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ years earlier. ‘Don’t Bust My Chops’ suffered from a distinct lack of melody. Years of alcoholism had taken its toll on Joey Ramone’s vocal chords; his singing was barely acceptable on this recording.

He continued to listen, hoping no family members would overhear. If Dad caught him mid way through ‘All Screwed Up’, he’d never live it down, especially after he always gave the old man such a hard time over his ‘shit’ music collection.

Would kill for some Mark Knopfler or Fairport Convention about now though, wouldn’t you?

He hit the ‘stop’ button and snatched the CD out of the stereo, recoiling as the cold, lifeless plastic touched his trembling hand. Yes, this was definitely a Ramones album. There had no been a mistake at the packaging plant. He longed to cast this monstrosity aside and never think about it again, but that was never an option.

‘I must finish what is begun.’

The second half began with ‘Pet Semetary’; disappointing book, terrible film, underwhelming song.

‘Learn To Listen’, despite its crappiness, reminded him of the early Ramones material. At a merciful length of 1.51, it was too little, too late.

He took a sip of Nesquik, wincing at the sweetness. He’d earned it.

‘Comeback Baby, Comeback’ was the album’s absolute low point. He’d only read about songs like these in Stephen King books. He never thought one would cross hs path for real.

Why are they being sexy? They’re not a sexy band, they’re not a…


‘Merry Christmas I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight’ had faded out, closing the album, reminding him of Cliff Richard, making him realise what the season was all about. Family. Eastenders. The birth of Christ. It was not about bad music, at least not in unlicensed residential premises.

He returned the CD to its case. He stared one last time at the cover, the cover that promised so much.

He placed it in the CD rack, a giant plastic prison from which it would never escape. Many layers of dust would cover it in the years to come.

Lunch was ready. Time to join the family. They’d ask him what he’d been doing for the last 35.01 minutes. He wouldn’t say. The memories of the morning would only linger in the deepest, darkest corners of his mind.

He had hoped the events of that morning, where he sat through one of the worst albums ever made, would never be re-lived. Then a blog was created, one with barely any readers, that had a category covering terrible music. He knew what he had to do.

Merry fucking Christmas.


9 Responses to “The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Brain Drain’ (1989) by The Ramones”

  1. Carl Jackson October 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    This is actually my favorite Ramones record out of all of them because of how different it is. It just explores so many different things, which i crave. But to each their own. By the way, even though i didnt agree with you, i did enjoy the review!

    • poppeelings October 25, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Thanks for reading Carl. Maybe you need a teenage lobotomy due to your shocking taste in Ramones albums young sir. 😛

      • Michael September 1, 2013 at 5:33 am #

        Music taste is entirely subjective. There are a few songs on Brain Drain that I liked, such as Pet Semetary, All Screwed Up, and Don’t Bust My Chops, but overall, it’s one of the Ramones weaker efforts, IMO. Still better than the dreary tuneless dirges known as ‘Subterranean Jungle’ and ‘Animal Boy’, though. My favourite Ramones album, if forced at gunpoint to choose, would be ‘Rocket To Russia.’ Classic album. Thank you for the review, I loved your use of vocabulary! 😉

      • poppeelings September 1, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

        In a way, pretty much everything they did from Pleasant Dreams onwards is wank.

  2. Michael September 3, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    Ok then. But, one more thing. What’s your opinion on Too Tough to Die? What I reckon is that Dee Dee managed to get the bruddahs to get their act together for one last great hurrah. I think the album in general shows the Ramones had a good understanding of the underground hard core movement that had cropped up all over the USA, but personally I prefer the pop-rock/surf music sound of their earlier albums, even End of the Century, which I enjoy despite Speccy’s batshit crazy production getting in the way at times.

    • Michael September 4, 2013 at 5:53 am #

      Ok, sorry, I’ve changed my mind. I’m listening to the album again, and I really enjoy it! Of course, it’s not their best, but I still think it’s awesome! I still respect your opinion, though, Pop, and I really enjoyed reading your review! Thank you! =)

      • poppeelings September 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

        Thing is, by ’84 when Too Tough To Die came out, the world had heard several Black Flag albums (amongst others) plus thrash was picking up, making anything by the Ramones entirely irrelevant. But I quite enjoyed Mondo Bizarro, mainly for Poison Heart.

  3. Daniel June 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    The Ramones have always been one of my favorites, if not my favorite band. And I will tell you that Brain Drain, IMHO, is one of their worst albums. I don’t know if it is THE worst, but it is pretty bad. I didn’t like Mondo Bizarro either. I think Halfway to Sanity is better than Brain Drain.

    Animal Boy had some really great songs too. I wasn’t crazy about Pleasant Dreams. But unlike some people, I really loved Subterranean Jungle, although it did have some generic filler material. Loved End of the Century and Too Tough to Die. Animal Boy has some really great songs too. Adios Amigos was kind of refreshing compared to some of their other later stuff. But their best albums were their first four of course.

  4. Alex April 29, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    Not best, not worst…

Agree? Disagree? Discuss.

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