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24 Years Ago: The Ramones’ ‘Brain Drain’ Album Released

Ramones Brain Drain
Sire Records

No one likes to talk about the last few albums the Ramones made. Actually, most people don’t even know about them. Everyone loves their first four classic albums, and there’s enough good songs on the early-‘80s records to keep most fans happy. There are even some moments from the middle of the decade – like 1984’s ‘Too Tough to Die’ and the ‘My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)’ single – that aren’t bad. But after that, everything pretty much goes downhill.

By the time they released their 11th album, ‘Brain Drain,’ on May 18, 1989, the band was splitting from its past. Even though Marky was back on drums for the first time since 1983’s ‘Subterranean Jungle,’ ‘Brain Drain’ would be the last album with Dee Dee (who wrote most of the group’s songs) and the group’s last album on Sire Records (which had signed the band and been its home since the mid-‘70s). And it sounded like the end was near.

The 12-song, 35-minute album includes one cover (Freddy Cannon’s ‘Palisades Park’), a holiday tune (‘Merry Christmas [I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight]’) and a cut that was recorded for a Stephen King movie (‘Pet Sematary’). There isn’t too much else that’s memorable, even though the opening ‘I Believe in Miracles’ does its best to replicate the Ramones’ mid-period highlights.

Buoyed by the soundtrack song, ‘Brain Drain’ reached No. 122 on the album chart, the band’s best showing since ‘Subterranean Jungle.’ ‘Pet Sematary’ even made it to No. 4 on the recently formed modern-rock chart, the group’s biggest hit at alt-rock radio. They had three more albums in them before calling it quits in 1996, many of which went out of print. But the glory days were over by this point. The Ramones were barely hanging on.

Next: Sonic Youth's 'NYC Ghosts & Flowers' Released

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