Animal Boy wasn't a very happy record for the Ramones. Since the release of Too Tough to Die (a slight return to form) nearly two years earlier, the band's fortunes had gone from bad to worse; interest in the band kept dwindling with every release and the "bruthas" were constantly at each other's throat. But their desperation only became apparent when they started seriously altering their sound in search of a lucky break. With Animal Boy, producer Jean Beauvoir (of Plasmatics infamy) attempted to update the band's sound with the commercial conventions of the day, meaning keyboards and synthesizers. Opener "Somebody Put Something in My Drink," for instance, wastes an aggressive vocal performance from Joey Ramone by supporting it with a shamelessly polished synthesizer backing track. The balls-out title song momentarily simplifies things once again, but the album continues to progress in hit-and-miss fashion, culminating with the unbearably soft "Something to Believe In" -- with bright synths taking over completely and no guitar in sight, it is a career low. Of note, the album does contain one of the band's most clearly political statements in first single "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," written about President Ronald Reagan's ill-advised visit to Germany's Bitburg cemetery, the site of many Nazi graves. Interestingly, the song was later retitled "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down" prior to the album's release, after vehement protests from guitarist Johnny Ramone, a fervid conservative. One of many mid-'80s blunders, Animal Boy is best left forgotten from the Ramones' otherwise remarkable late-'70s legacy.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia