Part One of Five
Ratt’s first full-length Out of the Cellar was a multiplatinum smash. The band didn’t come out of nowhere, with a successful EP already under their fur. Though an undeniable commercial success, was Out of the Cellar that great? Let’s listen with fresh ears to the recent reissue in The Atlantic Years 1984-1990 box set, and see if we can hear with objectivity what those rodents were up to.
The disorienting sound of backwards drums heralds in opener “Wanted Man”, an inventive way to make their introduction. These Ratts were cowboys, although they wore too much makeup for the ranch. A simple, slow, chomping riff is menacing enough while Stephen Pearcy growls though. The capable harmonies of the band and especially Juan Crocier help nail the melodies that Pearcy alone can’t. A great track worthy of a multiplatinum album.
“You’re In Trouble” is…less worthy. Clunky bass, chaotic guitars. But “Round and Round”? Still as great as ever. As regal as these rodents are ever likely to sound. A keen sense of melody, rhythm and vibe mixed together with a sweaty Stephen Pearcy. Brilliant solo work from Warren DeMartini, and perfectly layered harmonies under the production of Beau Hill.
A nice choppy guitar bodes well on “In Your Direction”, a slinky number that serves Stephen’s style well. Square, head-bangin’ rhythm from Bobby “Da Blotz” Blotzer. Decent song, but with only one trick. “She Wants Money” is more fun, a fast upbeat blast on a familiar theme. Robbin “King” Crosby on lead guitar here.
The second side opens “Lack of Communication”, a biting track just missing one key ingredient: a decent chorus. The saw-like riff smokes, the verses are great, but it never resolves into a definitive hook.
“Back For More” is a little disjointed but salvages it with a killer chorus. Screamin’ Pearcy and the rodent choir give it the final polish. Brilliant solo work here by Warren. Then, one of the best non-singles “The Morning After” will leave you drenched. It has a bit of a Quiet Riot vibe (Carlos Cavazo ended up in Ratt much later). “I’m Insane” is mindless fun; just bad boy rock with the popular “I’m crazy” theme that their pal Ozzy was milking for millions. Finally the album closes on “Scene of the Crime” which has a neat guitar hook that unfortunately is all but unrelated to the rest of the song. Some cool melodies with the patented Ratt harmonies here.
The box set comes with minor bonus tracks on each disc. This one has a single edit (3:46) of “Round and Round”. No problem hearing “Round and Round” twice, but missing most of the solo? Ugh. Really bad edit.
Good start to the Ratt The Atlantic Years 1984-1990 box set, and better than memory served. Rest in peace to Tawny Kitaen: the cover model on this album, the first EP, and the box set itself.