All images courtesy of Getty Images/Wiki Commons
By Trevor Krash Knight
In hair and glam rock circles, you’ll often hear the slogan, “Blast Ratt, Eat Ass.” Certainly, a normie would question why someone would use one with the other, right? Well, in a nutshell, Ratt is one of the glam daddies from the 1980s and has rightfully cemented itself as a powerhouse from the era.
Between the dual guitar solos and tone of Robin Crosby and Warren DeMartini, Stephen Pearcy’s distinct vocals, Juan Croucier’s bass licks and songwriting, and Bobby Blotzer’s thunder drumming, Ratt is nothing short of essential. So, I am here today to run through my ranking of this highly touted band’s seven-album catalog.
To my ears, there’s not much bad and plenty of good, which is why they have gone platinum multiple times. So, without further adieu, let’s Ratt ‘n’ roll. Lastly, if you want to see this review in visual form, head here and watch the video on my Krash Kourse Metal Show.
7) Infestation (2010)
Something had to be last, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing up against such strong competition. All things being equal, if I’m being honest, 2010’s Infestation leaves a little bit to be desired. Carlos Cavazo fills in nicely for Robin Crosby and takes over the second guitar spot. I often find myself losing interest throughout the album, but a song here and there captures my attention and sucks me back in. A song like “Best of Me” is a classic-sounding late ’80s single, and “Look Out Below” has a cool riff and an overall strong attitude. While “As Good As it Gets” is a quality song, the rest of Infestation is just ok but still worth picking up for your Ratt’s nest. Overall, not a bad comeback.
6) Ratt (1999)
So, it’s the late 90s, and Ratt hadn’t put anything out since the commercial flop Detonator in 1990. As a four-piece and with Juan Croucier out and Robbie Crane in, the question was, “What would this version of Ratt sound like?” The answer is, “Honestly, not too bad.” Of course, with Ratt being released in 1999, a few songs have that ’90s feel to them, such as “We Don’t Belong.” But at the same time, the record, on the whole, still has a “Ratty” feel.
In a lot of ways, Ratt feels like the band going back to basics and stripping down, in a sense, with some blues injected into the songs. For my money, the most ’80s-sounding song on here would be “Luv Sick,” along with the gritty opener, “Over the Edge.” I’d also wager that Ratt is the most out-of-place album in the band’s catalog, but it’s still worth picking up or, at the very least, worth listening to.
5) Out of the Cellar (1984)
I know, I know, you’re probably all thinking, “What is this album doing here at number five?” Hear me out. This is a great debut but lacks deep cuts compared to the remaining albums on this list. Sure, the singles on this album, like “Round and Round,” “Wanted Man,” and “Lack of Communication,” are all good, no doubt. Even songs like “Back for More,” “Wanted Man,” and “In Your Direction” are fun, but the rest of Out of the Cellar isn’t very memorable, in my opinion. Although an excellent debut, I don’t think Ratt is clicking on all cylinders. Out of the Cellar is one of my least revisited albums by Ratt, and that’s one of the big reasons it comes in at number five on my list.
4) Dancing Undercover (1986)
You could argue that when Dancing Undercover came out in 1986, Ratt was at its peak commercially and musically. While Dancing Undercover did go platinum and reached No.26 on the Billboard Top-200 chart, it’s got some issues. The two singles, “Dance” and “Body Talk,” are good songs but certainly not in my top ten. I feel Dancing Undercover brings the heat in songs like “7th Avenue” and “Slip of the Lip,” which I believe are excellent and some of Ratt’s best.
3) Reach for the Sky (1988)
Dropping in 1988, Reach for the Sky is certainly an interesting album, but you can see the cracks starting within Ratt here. Maybe not so much musically, but behind the scenes for sure. Not to mention that Robin Crosby’s addiction issues started affecting his live playing. This also brings into question how much did he even play on this album and the next album, Detonator?
With all that being said, Reach for the Sky is still a quality effort with some memorable moments. With the record, Ratt began to infuse some blues into their sound, with no better example than “Way Cool Jr.” The other single, “I Want a Woman,” is a classic late ’80s style mainstream Ratt song with a little bit of cheese but is still quite enjoyable.
While Ratt never recorded a ballad until 1990, they have slower-paced songs such as “I Want to Love You Tonight,” which helps with the album’s pace. But what brings this album to number three for me is Warren DeMartini introducing some blues sounds. Moreover, the deep cuts are pretty good, to the point that I don’t usually skip any songs on Reach for the Sky.
2) Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)
Ahhh, the classic Ratt guitar tone on this album is as essential to the 1980s as is Georgy Lynch’s guitar wizardry or Axl Roses’s screams. Invasion of Your Privacy went 2x platinum and reached No.7 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. Who doesn’t love these twin dual guitars going back and forth throughout this album? Songs like “You’re in Love” and “Lay it Down” also help define the sound and aura of glam and hair metal.
Not to mention we’ve got a classic album cover which surprisingly helps with the atmosphere of this album: alone and creepy, like someone is watching you. As odd as that is, it’s important with songs like “Closer to My Heart” and “What You Give is What You Get.” Even the music video for “Lay it Down” is simple, badass, and memorable. I cannot say enough about this album’s guitar work and tone; every guitar player within any genre should give Invasion of Your Privacy a listen based on that alone.
1) Detonator (1990)
I know that 1991’s Detonator was a commercial flop, only went gold, only reached No.23 on the Billboard Top 200 charts, doesn’t feature much of Robin Crosby (if any), and isn’t the most popular choice. I know all of those things, but Detonator is still my favorite Ratt record, hands down. I listen to this album the whole way through, singing to just about every song often.
I love the bluesy influence on this album, and the intro to “Shame Shame Shame” will tell you all you need to know about where Warren DeMartini is at here. And he throws in about 100 solos into “Lovin’ You’s a Dirty Job,” too. As I mentioned before, Robin Crosby didn’t have much input on Detonator, if any at all, which only props up DeMartini’s talents more. With Crosby, DeMartini could carry the full workload on Detonator and did a fantastic job. Also, Ratt attempts a power ballad on this album in “Givin’ Yourself Away,” which isn’t in my top 50 ballads of the era but is an enjoyable listen.
As for the vocals, Stephen Pearcy sounds pretty good, and with the different types of songs Ratt tries here, I think this may be his best vocal performance of the band’s career. There is attitude in every song throughout the lyrics, guitar work, and vocals, usually all three. Every song is out for blood, even the weaker songs like “Top Secret” and “Scratch That itch,” but you’ll still see me having fun with them. It’s a damn shame that Detonator gets overlooked, but I’ll proudly defend this at the number one spot regardless of the haters.