REVIEW: Ratt – Dancing Undercover (Part Three of The Atlantic Years series)

Part Three of Five

RATT – Dancing Undercover (Originally 1986, 2020 reissue — The Atlantic Years 1984-1990 box set)

Ratt’s fortunes continued to fall on their third album Dancing Undercover.  Their debut went triple platinum and the second album went double.  You didnt need an expert prognosticator to predict that the third album would go platinum and no further.  Which is still very respectable, but the trend was not good.

Opening single “Dance” was solid, with a poppy melody and stuttery 80s guitar lick.  Sleazy pop, rodent style.  A stock Ratt prowler comes second, called “One Good Lover”.  It packs punch, wicked guitars, and a few decent hooks.  Without missing a beat, they accelerate into “Drive Me Crazy” which has a speedy Hollywood-built engine.  Drummer Bobby Blotzer impresses with the machine gun fills.  Unsurprisingly, the drummer has a writing credit on it.  Decent tune, with a clunky arrangement.

The band slides into “Slip of the Lip”, which made for a pretty cool live-style video.  It is a clear album highlight, and most successfully nails the sleaze rock vibe that Ratt peddle in.    They end the first side on the incendiary “Body Talk”; straight-up Ratt thrash.  Probably the heaviest Ratt track ever, even “Body Talk” made for a wicked video.  It was hard to picture Ratt pushing it this fast and hard, but they did, and successfully so.

“Looking For Love” had to be a sleaze rocker. The second side doesn’t open on a great song, but it certainly is a Ratt song.  You couldn’t mistake it for any of their peers.  It does boast a pretty good chorus, even if the rest of the song doesn’t quite nail it.  On the other hand, “7th Avenue” has a menacing vibe and not much else.  “It Doesn’t Matter” has some life.  Unfortunately the second side just doesn’t have enough bite, nor enough good songs.  “Take a Chance” borrows a few chords from “Slip of the Lip” but isn’t nearly as good.  At least the closer “Enough is Enough” has a nice clean guitar part for variety’s sake, but side two is virtually without hooks.

This edition comes with a single edit of “Dance” as the bonus track, which at least allows the album to end on a good song, albeit a repeated one.

2.75/5 stars

The Atlantic Years 1984-1990:

 

 

14 comments

  1. I think I liked this one a lot more than you. I didn’t like Invasion as much. I guess maybe I found side one to be so good, but I don’t remember for sure. Anyway, great review. can’t wait for the next two.

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  2. Always had a soft-spot for this album (which I originally bought on cassette upon release in 1986). I feel like this album captures the frayed-and-fried, kinda-empty feel of those coked-out ‘80s. It took me some concentrated reassessing to admit/realize it’s front-loaded with the good songs, and that like most of the “good-times” of the decade, not as much fun the morning/day after!

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  3. This one got played a lot on Mtv, body talk. I remember not liking this one so much. Need to give it a relisten. It’s been years. I have this on vinyl. Think I have all of these on vinyl not including latest one.

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  4. I probably rate it a bit better than you, maybe an even 3 (and maybe a 3.25 if I’m feeling generous) but same as you as far as calling it a step down from the first two. The two singles are such highlights for me that they bring the album a notch for me, with Dance being a too three Ratt song in my book. It Doesn’t Matter and 7th Avenue are solid deep cuts for me.

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    1. I remember seeing the video for “Body Talk” on TV for the first time and thinking, “Holy…shit.” This is the single? Wow. I didn’t hear a hook until the third or fourth play. Love it now of course. Most of the album seems to have Stephen just givin’ ‘er on the vocals without much variation.

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  5. Tbone said back in 86 this album didn’t sound finished. lol He has a point too me though it was like Ratt’s Done With Mirrors as they went into the studio and smashed this out live which for me is kinda the charm.
    Good point as the sales were slipping but they were still on a decent run..

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  6. I love this album, in fact I rank it as the 2nd best album in their catalog. I see nothing wrong with the songs except maybe “Drive Me Crazy” I could live w/out that one.
    Lots of strong catchy riffs and I think that corporate radio f–ked this band. They refused to play the singles – starting with “Dance” – that song has top 20 hit written all over it and yet corporate radio rejected it along with the other two singles. These songs only lived on Mtv and that’s sad. If radio had gotten on board the album would have gone double platinum.
    “It Doesn’t Matter” and “Enough is Enough” both had hit single potential.

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