ON THIS DATE (23 YEARS AGO)
May 23, 1989 – Ramones: Brain Drain is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# Allmusic 2/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Brain Drain is the eleventh studio album by the Ramones, released on this date in May 1989 through Sire Records. It contains the single “Pet Sematary”, written for the Stephen King movie adaptation of the same name. The single became one of the Ramones’ biggest radio hits, and a staple in their concerts during the 1990s.
It is the last release to feature bass player Dee Dee Ramone, the first release to feature Marky Ramone since his departure after Subterranean Jungle, and the last studio album on Sire Records.
About the making of the album, Dee Dee wrote in his autobiography, Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones:
“It was tough recording the Brain Drain album because everyone took their shit out on me. I dreaded being around them. It drove me away — I didn’t even end up playing on the album. Everybody in the band had problems; girlfriend problems, money problems, mental problems.”
Most people ignore the Ramones’ later work for one reason or another. The most likely reason is that the boys themselves play relatively few post-1979 songs in concert. In the case of Brain Drain this turns out to be a mistake, as it’s the album most evocative of the classic Ramones sound since Subterranean Jungle.
“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” and the cover of “Palisades Park” are so lavishly produced that they could have been outtakes from the Phil Spector sessions (though minus the negative karma that accompanied that time period). “Don’t Bust My Chops” finds the Ramones revisiting the crunchy guitar sound of the mid-’80s albums, only with better hooks this time around. “Zero Zero UFO” returns the boys to familiar goofball territory and “All Screwed Up” keeps them there. Brain Drain also contains an actual bona-fide almost-hit single in “Pet Sematary,” a song written for the Steven King film.
by Eduardo Rivadavia, allmusic
Though it contains one of the Ramones’ biggest radio hits, “Pet Sematary” (written for Stephen King’s movie of the same name), 1989’s Brain Drain finds the “bruthas” from Queens at an all-time inspirational low. And since the aforementioned track is actually reviled by most of the band’s hardcore fans, the listener has to make do with opener “I Believe in Miracles” and closer “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight),” which bookend the amazingly dull tracks in between with the record’s only bright moments. The final Ramones album recorded for Sire Records (their label from day one), Brain Drain was sadly also the last to feature bassist and creative leader Dee Dee Ramone.
1 I Believe in Miracles 3:19
2 Zero Zero UFO 2:25
3 Don’t Bust My Chops 2:28
4 Punishment Fits the Crime 3:05
5 All Screwed Up 3:59
6 Palisades Park 2:22
7 Pet Sematary 3:30
8 Learn to Listen 1:50
9 Can’t Get You Outta My Mind 3:21
10 Ignorance Is Bliss 2:38
11 Come Back, Baby 4:01
12 Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) 2:04
* The Captain Oi! reissue includes the bonus track “Pet Sematary (Bill Laswell Version).”