Out of the Cellar was my first Ratt album, acquired in a trade from next door neighbour George. Considering how big Ratt were at the time, I expected it to be better. In the 80’s, I felt like Out of the Cellar was a handful of singles padded out by filler. I haven’t played the whole album in years (at least five), so this review is coming from a fresh perspective. Dusting off the CD, I note on the credits the name of producer Beau Hill — never one of my favourites.
One of the aforementioned singles, “Wanted Man”, opens the album on an up note. The cowboy motif has been popular in hard rock at least since David Lee Roth wore buttless chaps. Tough, slow and menacing is “Wanted Man”. Everything about it is classic hard rock. Finger-blurring solos, thick backing vocals (courtesy of Juan Crocier mostly), and a big chorus are all it takes in the world of Ratt. “Wanted Man” has always been a high point from Out of the Cellar, and it remains just as cool today.
“You’re in Trouble” kinda smells funny, as rock songs with funky bass often do. Great chorus, but the rest of the song fails to generate any sort of fist-pumping. This is easily forgotten since the third track is the big one. “Round and Round”…what is it about this song? It’s still irresistible today. Why? Everything clicks. It is the perfect formulation of Robbin’s riffing, Warren’s picking, and Steven’s sneer. Bobby and Juan keep the pulse tough and punchy. It’s just one of those magical songs from that era that still has the goods.
Moving on, “In Your Direction” is suitable for an album track. Ratt referred to their sound as “Ratt N’ Roll”, because according to them, it was their own sound unlike other bands. That may be so, but unfortunately Ratt N’ Roll is pretty limited as far as genres go. If you cross “Wanted Man” with “You’re In Trouble”, you get something like “In Your Direction”. Ratt albums have always suffered from too many soundalike songs. Smoking solo though — very Eddie-like. “She Wants Money” is pretty good. These old melodies are coming back, as are old memories. “She Wants Money” is one of the strongest non-singles on Out of the Cellar.
Frustratingly, “Lack of Communication” is a good song that lacks a good chorus. “Lack of communication, back off!” Something’s not clicking there, which is too bad because the rest of the song was really decent. What we need now is another single. “Back For More” was always outstanding for a Ratt song. The acoustic intro was the only soft moment, on an album composed 100% of rockers. “Back For More” is punchy and memorable, a pretty great example of Ratt N’ Roll because it doesn’t sound too much like the other songs.
Stormy guitars and cool Pearcy vocals keep “The Morning After” rocking ’til dawn. “I’m Insane” ain’t too bad, another nondescript pedal-to-the-metal Ratt N’ Roller. “Scene of the Crime” is another fairless faceless Ratt song, which closes the album. It’s a fairly limp ending, and there’s nothing about the production that really aids or abets the album.
Listening to Out of the Cellar today is much the same as it was in the 80’s. It has enough high points to give credit where credit is due, but given the chance to listen to it or a “best of” CD, you’re going to go with the compilation. It’s too bad Ratt couldn’t have tightened up some of these songs a bit first, in the writing stage.