Everybody needs a little Ratt N’ Roll in their lives. How much is up to you. It’s like salt & pepper — season to taste. But it’s been a while since Ratt released the fine comeback Infestation (2010), and we’re getting the cravings again. Ratt’s lead throat Stephen Pearcy must’ve known this, because here comes his excellent solo album Smash.
You can hear Zeppelin bleeding through the intro to “I Know I’m Crazy”, and the word “Zepp-ish” comes up again and again when listening to this CD. Much of the time this is due to the big big performance by ex-White Lion drummer Greg D’Angelo. “I Know I’m Crazy” has a bit of the new and a bit of the old: modern drony guitars, but a punchy Pearcy chorus. Stephen is wise to not just copy Ratt (there are enough people trying that), but to go beyond that sound and into something a little out of left field. Then if you’re craving those big rawk guitar riffs, “Ten Miles Wide” offers one o’ those and a brilliant chorus to boot. Guitarist Erik Ferentinos nails a cool George Lynch vibe on one hell of a smoking solo. But then it’s fully down Zeppelin alley with slippery slide guitars on the impressively authentic “Shut Down Baby”. “What Do Ya Think” also has that swampy Zep vibe, very Page-y.
With 13 tracks on the standard CD edition, there is plenty of rock, but an artist can always run the risk of an overly-long album. Not so with Smash! Stephen Pearcy has the goods, and a diverse batch of songs. None drag or overstay their welcome; the standard album runs at 47 minutes of diverse rock. Check out “Dead Roses” for a tune with a heavy Skid Row grind. “Jamie” and “I Can’t Take It” too rock hard, with roots still in 80s metal. Then there’s a sleazy Aero-Ratt called “Lollipop” that fits right in. You can count on a thick, strong sound throughout — check out the slamming and riffy “Want Too Much”. Bassist Matt Thorn co-produced the album with the band. Track after track, expect meaty guitars, full sounding drums, and sassy signature Pearcy lead vocals. There even a power ballad: “Rain” is awesome, tough and would have been a massive hit in 1985. Closer “Summers End” is less a ballad and more music for a dark sky.
Of course you don’t have to buy the Japanese version to get Smash, but when you just can’t get enough Pearcy, the import offers an acoustic mix of “What Do Ya Think”. The song works very well as an acoustic jam session. Fans would be advised to check it out and choose which version they like best. However you get it, be sure to get Smash, a fine start to 2017.