In this new feature, Disc in the Dirt, we look at the discographies of bands and rate their albums and discuss the critical responses to them.
Welcome to Part 1 of Ratt‘s discography. This covers the period from the self-titled E.P. to Dancing Undercover. Part 2 will cover the rest of their albums.
Ratt – Disc in the Dirt
Hollywood 1973, a band called Firedome was founded by singer Stephen Pearcy with a few friends. In 1974, the band broke up, with Pearcy forming Crystal Pystal. The name Crystal Pystal turned into Mickey Ratt in 1976.
Guitarist Robbin Crosby in those same years had been a member of the bands such as Metropolis.
Mickey Ratt went through various line-up changes, with members including famed Rough Cutt/Ozzy/Badlands guitarist Jake E. Lee. The various Mickey Ratt line-ups released several demos compilations and a live concert recording on Pearcy‘s indie record label Top Fuel Records.
In 1981, the band’s name was shortened to Ratt. Crosby played with the band later in the year. Guitarist Warren DeMartini, recommended by Lee, joined the band in January 1982. Bassist Gene Hunter and drummer Khurt Maier (who played drums on the early “Tell the World“) temporarily played in Ratt before the arrival of Bobby Blotzer and Juan Croucier (previously with Dokken).
The band went on to release seven full studio albums after their self-titled EP in 1983. They also released two main compilations (one of rare tracks). Metal Storm website described their arrival – “Motley Crue and Hanoi Rocks made it happen, the glam/sleaze hard rock scene of the 80s was reality and Ratt couldn’t be missing from the whole party!“.
I am a huge fan of their second album, Invasion of Your Privacy, but decided I needed to revisit the whole discography. There was never a band as unique as Ratt. They were more technical than contemporaries and had a real star in Pearcy. His voice may not be that strong, but it perfectly suits the hard rock drive of the band.
The first self-titled E.P. was released in 1983 and distributed in the UK by the classic label (then home to Metallica), Music for Nations.
This (now rare) record is a raw representation of the classic Ratt sound. It contains seven super songs of chugging Hard Rock. It kicks off with “Sweet Cheater” and closes with the cover of Rufus Thomas‘s “Walking the Dog” (covered also by Aerosmith).
Ratt is unpolished rock that will make you wonder why they were ever described as Glam. This is a nasty record that is perfectly summed up by the cover of rats running up a woman’s leg.
Sleazeroxx said of this E.P. – “Raw and filled with a sound of things to come, it stands as the first scratch of a band about to gnaw themselves out of the cellar and into rock and roll history.” To this, I wholeheartedly agree.
Rating : *** (/5)
Star Track – “Walking the Dog”
Out Of The Cellar (1984)
Released in 1984, this album was an immediate success, with airplay on radio and heavy rotation on MTV of its singles, especially the decade-defining “Round and Round“. Certified as triple platinum by the RIAA, the record fired Ratt to the top of the metal scene in Los Angeles.
Out of the Cellar is a step up from the EP in terms of production. The songs are stronger than Arnie on steroids.
The guitars shoot out the speakers and Pearcy‘s snarling delivery makes for a memorable debut. The songs are catchy and the solos of DeMartini are superb snatches of talking to God.
This was not the only debut. Beau Hill was a relatively unknown quantity. However, he joined the Ratt collective as producer and started his stellar career with the band on this collection.
Pure Grain Audio website said of this release – “For many, it’s hard to forget your first kiss, your first car or perhaps even your first beer. For die-hard fans of ‘80s arena rock, the first full-length seduction from Ratt might prove just as memorable. And rightfully so.” Amen to that.
Rating – *** (/5)
Star Track – “Wanted Man”
Invasion Of Your Privacy (1985)
Building on the platinum foundation of their debut, Ratt entered the studio in 1985 to record the hugely impressive Invasion of Your Privacy with the returning Beau Hill. It featured the singles “Lay It Down“, “You’re in Love” and “What You Give Is What You Get.” The cover-model was Playboy star Marianne Gravatte, who also made an appearance in the “Lay It Down” music video.
It was not universally liked, but IOYP is my favourite Ratt disc to date. The AllMusic website commented that “returning producer Beau Hill merely helped Ratt fine-tune their songs and give them a brighter pop sheen (including some telltale electronic percussion)“. However, Hill was responsible for adding a uniqueness to their sound that eluded many of their contemporaries.
The songs are relentlessly high energy, although “Closer To My Heart” is more moody. The record is one of the few albums I can listen to from front to back. I don’t ever get tired of – a classic modern-day rock album that hasn’t been bettered by the band.
Rating – ***** (/5)
Star Track – “You Should Know By Now”
Dancing Undercover (1986)
Ratt‘s next disc was Dancing Undercover in September 1986. The album was unpopular with music critics at the time of its release. From a commercial standpoint, however, the album kept Ratt‘s string of consecutive Platinum albums alive.
In an effort to be taken more seriously, Ratt broke from the tradition of featuring a girl on the cover. They instead opted for black-and-white photos of each of the five band members.
The disc is awesome. It is my second favourite Ratt album, after Invasion. The production is spot on and the songs are heavy and diverse.
Other popular tracks on the album include “Dance” and “Slip of the Lip“. However, my absolute favourite is “7th Avenue“.
The critics got their knives out for this record, which is extraordinary. Ultimate Classic Rock commented on the disc. “This failure to experiment, even under duress from time constraints in the studio, left Ratt vulnerable to being surpassed by the next generation of L.A. rockers like Cinderella and Poison.” This is clearly nonsense, but what do critics know?
Rating – **** (/5)
Star Track – “7th Avenue”
So, this sums up the early Disc in the Dirt of the band. For Part 2, we take a look at the period from Reach For The Sky to Infestation. RATT Retrospective Part 2.
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Coxy