Released a mere nine months after the Ramones’ groundbreaking debut, 1977’s Leave Home was in many respects a continuation of the sound and attitude of the first album, with its unrelenting barrage of chunky guitar downstrokes and Mad Magazine-influenced lyrical absurdity. But even a cursory listen reveals the Ramones had made plenty of progress in less than a year. The performances on Leave Home are tighter and better focused than they were on Ramones, and Tommy Ramone’s minimalist drumming gained a bit of swing that was absent on the debut. The Ramones sound more comfortable with their attack, never quite as simple as it seems, while also bearing down with a greater speed and ferocity that finds them hitting their stride in the studio. Just as importantly, the production is noticeably more polished this time out, which helps more than one might expect. Without the strict left/right separation of Ramones, Leave Home is more friendly to the ear, and the increased clarity does wonders for the passionate bleat of Joey’s vocals, Johnny’s unrelenting Mosrite abuse, and the melodic details that lurk beneath the surface of the Ramones’ wall of noise. And if the first album was full of immediate classics, Leave Home has more than its share of great tunes, including the anthemic “Pinhead” and “Commando,” the high-velocity teen romance of “Oh Oh I Love Her So” (certainly the greatest love story ever set at a Burger King), and the catchy invitations to bad behavior in “Carbona Not Glue” and “Glad to See You Go.” Leave Home wasn’t as startling as the Ramones’ first album, and it’s not quite as strong and consistent as their masterpiece Rocket to Russia, but it was a positive step forward for the Pride of Forest Hills, and it’s one of their best and most satisfying albums.