10 career-altering third albums from bands in the 1960s and '70s

Things changed for these groups with their third full-length releases.

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ROCKET TO RUSSIA by Ramones (1977)

Ramones came of age with Rocket to Russia. It was the final album with their original lineup – drummer Tommy moved to the production side of things immediately afterward. The quartet, who were still learning their instruments when they released their debut a year before, had gotten better, and their label, Sire, seeing great potential in the punk rock boom of the late ‘70s, invested more heavily in the production. Consequently, Rocket to Russia simply sounds better than the first two releases.

And the songs were getting better too. ”Rockaway Beach” was an impossibly catchy homage to their home. “Sheena Was a Punk Rocker” sounded like the Beach Boys but painted a sharp portrait of the type of fan the boys from California rarely encountered. Certainly not while surfing. Maybe while crowd surfing. “Teenage Lobotomy” is an outright anthem about...see if you can guess. “Guess I’ll have to break the news – That I’ve got no mind to lose.”

Those are some highlights, but all 14 of its tracks (in just over 30 minutes) are fast and fun. The album cracked the top 50 in the US and produced the band’s first (and only) charting singles on the mainstream charts. Rocket to Russia was an early indication that punk rock could be clever and well-produced and that it was a genre that had the potential to reach out from inner-city barrooms into suburban basements and become something of a mainstream force.