Ratt

REVIEW: Stephen Pearcy – Smash (2017 with bonus track)

NEW RELEASE


scan_20170226-2STEPHEN PEARCY – Smash (2017 King records, Japanese bonus track)

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.

4.5/5 stars

#543: Loose Lips Sink Ships

GETTING MORE TALE #543: Loose Lips Sink Ships

One night, we had a staff meeting  for managers.  The lesson that evening was that “loose lips sink ships”.  This phrase dates back to World War II.  The idea was to avoid speaking openly about anything to do with the war.  You never know how any of that information might get back to the enemy.  The same held true for the cutthroat world of CD retail.

The reason he had to reinforce that “loose lips sink ships” rule is that one franchisee had made a huge mistake, boasting openly about a great location he had just found for a future store.  Wouldn’t you know it, our biggest rival swooped in and took the spot.  He heard about it because Gabby McGabberson was telling everybody.  The ship had sunk!

This served as a reminder to watch what we say.  You never know who might be listening.  I got caught a few times myself.  One afternoon I was talking about an ex-employee who got himself fired.  Sometimes I felt like he was making me prematurely grey, and I was venting some steam in store.   Little did I know that the guy’s brother was in the store, and reported my words back to him!  Whoopsie.   At least I didn’t say anything that was not true.  He got a new job working at HMV and I think that’s where he was happier to be.  Then there’s good ol’ Spoogecakes.  I can only guess but the loose lips theory is all I can come up with to explain why ex-coworker Spoogey (remember that explosion of drama?) had such a hate-on for me.  It started in mid-2006, about six months after I quit the store.  A third party informed me that she had this weird crush/obsession.  I was oblivious to that and it was a little off-putting to find out.  I think once word got back about how I reacted, the hate set in.  I’ll never know for sure, but the point is: anything said can be repeated.

We were trained to answer customer inquiries about how the store was doing in vague terms only.   The boss caught me once when we first opened the branch I managed.  “How are you guys doing today?” asked a customer.  “Pretty busy!” I answered, seemingly innocently.  Afterwards the boss instructed me, “Never tell people we’re busy.  Never tell them if we’re slow either.  Only answer ‘business is good’.  How do you know that guy won’t try to break in and rob us now that he knows we’re busy?”

Sensible advice.  Never show your cards.  I took that advice and only answered vaguely from that point on.  That’s what I instructed my staff to say too.  Loose lips sink ships:  “Business is good.”  If the customer pressed for more details (and you might not believe it, but some did!) I would just play stupid and say that I didn’t know the numbers.   I even caught a guy trying to sneak a glimpse at my sales log book, all casual-like.  Can you believe that?

Business folks would be well advised to take my old boss’ advice.  Loose lips sink ships!

 

REVIEW: Ratt – Ratt & Roll 8191 (1991) #200wordchallenge

200 word

It’s the #200wordchallenge!  Rock journalist Mitch Lafon has challenged me to up my game.  Back in his print days, Mitch used to have a strict 200 word quota — no more no less.*  It separated the wheat from the chaff.  Click the link to see all the entries.

Scan_20160822RATT – Ratt & Roll 8191 (1991 Atlantic)

Ratt used to claim that their music was so unique that it deserved the title “Ratt n’ Roll”. This 19 track compilation is the one to get to test that theory. With all the key songs, including two from the first EP and a newbie, Ratt & Roll 8191 (Yes, that’s the actual title) will provide all the spills, thrills and chills that Ratt are known for. And in fact, it makes for a heck of a 77 minute CD. You’d think that would be overkill. You’d be wrong. Sleezy hard rock, flashy 80’s guitars, big drums and hooks are in store for you.

So “You Think You’re Tough”? Spin this CD “Round and Round”. Before you know it, “You’re in Love”. Get down and “Dance” just like “Way Cool Jr.”! Soon you’ll be “Back For More”, in fact it’s only “One Step Away”. Or one click away, rather, but keep in mind that “Nobody Rides For Free”. Still, Ratt & Roll can be found affordably. If you’re loaded with cash, look for a Japanese version with a 3″ bonus EP from MTV Unplugged featuring guest Michael Schenker!

If you don’t pick up this album, “Shame Shame Shame” on you.

4.5/5 stars

Scan_20160822 (2)

*Not including title or score

REVIEW: Ratt – Out of the Cellar (1984)

Scan_20150801RATT – Out of the Cellar (1984 Atlantic)

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.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Aerosmith (1973)

It’s time for another series here at mikeladano.com! It’s been a while since I’ve tackled something this big, but for the last two weeks I’ve been writing and listening to a band that I hadn’t been spending a lot of time with in recent years. That band is AEROSMITH and it’s time to look at every original classic Aerosmith album on Columbia Records. The scope of the series is really simple: I’m reviewing all 13 discs in 1994’s massive Box of Fire collection — the entire box set from start to finish!

BOX OF FIRE THUMB

If you’re not into Aerosmith, I apologize, but that’s what I’ve got for the next couple weeks. To use the words of my friend Aaron, I just had to give’r.

You ready? As Steven Tyler might say, “Oooh-wha-ga-ga-ga-GOW!” Let’s go!

AEROSMITH_0001AEROSMITH – Aerosmith (1973 Columbia, 1993 Sony remaster)

Who woulda thunk that the band of young kids on this shitty album cover would become one of the biggest rock bands in history?  Nobody, that’s who!

I love this album.  I love its simplicity, its raw sound, basic production and youthful glee.  I love the built-in musical maturity that seemed to bloom fully formed.  I love the interplay of the whole band, their chemistry already intact.  Everything you love about the way that Perry and Whitford make their guitars mesh with bassist Tom Hamilton, and how Hamilton syncs in with Joey Kramer on drums — it’s already here.  Meanwhile, Steven Tyler had yet to discover all of his sass, but he was well on his way.   All Aerosmith (1973) is missing is great production, something the band would develop with Jack Douglas on the next album Get Your Wings.

It’s easy to draw comparisons between Aerosmith’s and Kiss’ first records.  Both records exhibited a more “rock n’ roll” vibe, and tame production values, with a band straining at the leash to really play like they do live.  Ultimately it took both bands a few years to capture that.

The two massive hits on Aerosmith are two of their best known and beloved:  “Dream On” and “Mama Kin”.  Think about that for a second.  One album with both “Dream On” and “Mama Kin”!  What more do you want?

You’ll also get six other great early Aero-gems.  “Walkin’ the Dog”, a Rufus Thomas cover, is one that Aerosmith still drags out in concert occasionally.  A decade later Ratt covered Aerosmith’s version, well before Guns N’ Roses made covering Aerosmith the cool thing to do, as they did with “Mama Kin”!

Hidden gem: “Movin’ Out”, based on a couple really cool Joe Perry riffs. There’s also a killer, even more raw alternate version on the Pandora’s Box set. Aerosmith recently dusted this one off again, and it sounded amazing.

I don’t think there is a weak song on the album.  There aren’t a lot that are “greatest hits”, but each one is great in its own way.  “Write Me”, “Somebody”, “Make It” and “One Way Street” are all catchy little blues rock tunes, nothing to write home about but plenty to shake your ass to.

Incidentally, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, Aerosmith also contains the greatest opening line of any debut album ever:  “Good evening people welcome to the show…”

Long story short: Aerosmith is a tasty blend of all the great Aerosmith ingredients that I love.  Electric rock and blues form a perfect blend, and Steven Tyler was the perfect singer to front this band.  Throw in some of his harmonica, piano and mellotron and you have a potent mix.  But keep in mind, greater things came in very short order.  Aerosmith, solid as it is, was only a precursor to true greatness.

4/5 stars

NEWS: Looks like RATT needs a singer…again.

Stephen Pearcy has left Ratt, again.

Hardly a surprise considering the crap Bobby “Da Blotz” has been spewing lately.  (See:  Metal Sludge for details)  Wishing physical harm upon your own singer isn’t what I would call classy.

DA BLOTZ
(photo of Evel Dick Donato)

So, Stephen Pearcy has today announced he’s leaving Ratt.  Unfortunately, Jizzy Pearl is currently occupied.  Pearcy’s statement (on Bravewords):

“After 30 years creating the band Ratt and losing a real brother, (late guitarist) Robbin (Crosby), it’s time that I personally part ways with the band.

I am officially done with having anything to do with them due to the constant turmoil, unresolved business, personal attacks/threats in the public forum,
and most of all, the disrespect to the fans.

I’m very content and proud of the legacy and the music I’ve created. This music will live well beyond any of our lifetimes. I owe no one anything but a huge heartfelt thank you for coming to the party for the last 30 years.

With much respect, life goes on and the music I created will continue to be heard for years to come despite the dark clouds that have lingered for far too long. I will personally continue to make music and perform live shows.

See you out there!”

REVIEW: Ratt – Infestation (2010 Japanese and iTunes editions)

RATT – Infestation (2010 Roadrunner Japanese and iTunes editions)

Ratt needed a comeback. Lineup changes galore, deaths, poorly-received changes in sound — forget all that stuff.  The band has since stabilized.  Pearcy’s back on lead vocals, and Carlos Cavazo (ex-Quiet Riot) has taken over guitar duties from John Corabi. Corabi’s a rhythm player, not a soloist (and that’s not a knock on Corabi).  Cavazo rocks out quite a few solos on this album. The difference is noticeable, and it’s a welcome return to something like the Ratt sound of yore. Do you like twin leads? Cavazo and Warren DeMartini rip out a few, each with his own distinct sound, but meshing well like they’ve been doing this forever. Cavazo also contributes strong co-writes to about half the album. Surely, you can’t imagine a better match than this for Ratt.

INFESTATION_0003

[Note:  Since this release, original bassist Juan Crocier has also come back, replacing Robbie Crane.]

Pearcy’s in great voice, the passages of time disguise-able. But be forwarned, if you never liked Pearcy’s style before, this album is not going to change your mind. His vocals are augmented by some nice, but not overdone, backing vocals from the band. Longtime bassist Robbie Crane supplies backing vocals while holding down the bottom end.

INFESTATION_0005The sound of the album is pure Ratt, but modernly produced; surely the best sounding record they’ve done so far. Picture a heavier Out Of The Cellar. There are nods and winks to other eras of Ratt as well: I hear a little bit of “Way Cool” here and there, and damned if “Best Of Me” wouldn’t have fit right in on Detonator. Yet this is no retro-fest, as much as it does echo the 80’s. There are still sounds here that sound tougher and more modern, like the fast and heavy opener “Eat Me Up Alive” (my second favourite song).  There’s filler here, but even the filler is worth holding your finger off the skip button.  All except perhaps the dreadful “A Little Too Much”.

There Japanese bonus track is a cool slow groove rocker called “Scatter”, with a great memorable chorus. This is the best song to me.  Itunes got the track as well, but because I always prefer a physical edition, I bought the Japanese for my physical copy.  You will have to judge the value of that expenditure yourself, however I deemed it worthwhile.

There are also three live bonus tracks on the iTunes version, worth getting. These songs are “You Think You’re Tough”, “Tell The World”, and “Way Cool Jr.”, all previously unreleased and with Cavazo on guitar, “Live from the Rockline Studios”.  “You Think You’re Tough” is my favourite song from Ratt EP.

If you have ever liked Ratt, pick up Infestation if you’re curious what the band sounds like 25 years later. This is a solid Ratt album, not classic, but song for song among their better records.  They’ve retained their signature “Ratt N’ Roll” sound, but also what dignity and integrity a bunch of Ratts have. Well done.

3.333/5 stars

REVIEW: Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad (2 CD & Japanese versions)

Here’s my second review from the The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale! It was Japanese import Heaven!

For the last installment of this series, click here.

WHITESNAKE  – Good to Be Bad (2008 Warner/SPV)

Whitesnake disbanded in 1990.  Coverdale did his album with Jimmy Page, but that didn’t prove to last either.  Although they’d started writing for a second album, the affair ended and David Coverdale assembled a new Whitesnake for a Greatest Hits tour in 1994.  This reformation eventually led to an album in 1997 called Restless Heart (billed as “David Coverdale and Whitesnake”.  This R&B flavoured album, a personal favourite, did not resonate with some fans of 80’s ‘Snake.

After another hiatus, and a solo album (2000’s Into the Light), David once again formed a new group of ‘Snakes, a mixture of old and new members.  After several years of touring (and lineup changes), the long awaited new Whitesnake album, Good to Be Bad, hit the shelves in 2008.  Former Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich and Winger’s Reb Beach had been a formidable guitar duo since 2002.

GOOD TO BE BAD_0003

Similarly to his partnership with Adrian Vandenberg, David has retained his writing style of co-writing with just one co-writer; in this case, Aldrich. It seems to be evident that the guys have gone for a John Sykes guitar sound and style.  You can certainly hear a lot of trademark sounds and tricks that Sykes used to do, that gave the 1987 album such a cool sound.  This isn’t to say that they don’t play plenty of their own style too, but the retro stuff is frequent.

So similar is the direction of this album to 1987, that you can play “name that tune” with all the new songs:
“Can You Hear The Wind Blow” for example directly references moments on 1987, right down to those flares that Sykes used to do.  “All I Want, All I Need” equals “Is This Love” Part Deux.  Basically, every song on Good To Be Bad is a mash-up of songs from Coverdale Page1987 and Slip Of The Tongue, and you can hear the references quite distinctly. “A Fool in Love” is “Crying in the Rain”.  “Lay Down Your Love” is “Shake My Tree”, without Jimmy Page.  Throw in a little “Kashmir” during “‘Til The End Of Time” (which seems to be based off “Till The Day I Die” from Come An’ Get It) too.

Having said that, despite the lack of originality, Good To Be Bad is still a very enjoyable listen, and a very welcome return. A world without David Coverdale’s voice is like a world without crème brûlée.  That voice is in fine form, perhaps even stronger than it was on 1997’s Restless Heart. The album has a lot more life to it than Restless Heart, although it does lack that album’s subtlety and R&B moments. The band play great, kicking it on every tune, even the ballads. The melodies are strong and memorable.  It’s just…too contrived.

The bonus live disc is the the Canadian special edition is highlights from Live: In The Shadow Of The Blues. No big deal.  It’s nice to hear Whitesnake playing “Burn/Stormbringer” from David’s Deep Purple days, and cool to hear the old 70’s classics.

The real cool version to have is the Japanese release with two bonus tracks.  And a sticker!  Can’t forget the sticker.  The bonus tracks are both remixes (a “Doug solo” version of “All For Love”, and a stripped down version of the lovely “Summer Rain”).  For $20, I wasn’t complaining.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Ratt – Ratt (EP)

RIP Jeff Hanneman.  :(

Here’s the first review from the The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale! I promised I’d show you more of the stuff I scored. Here’s one!
RATT

RATT – Ratt (1984 remixed EP, Time Coast)

My understanding is that this EP, much like Twisted Sister’s Under the Blade, was remixed and re-released.  It is the remixed version that I got in Mississauga at the Toronto Musical Collectibles Record Show.  I’ve wanted this EP for a long time, but for some reason it’s only now that I finally picked it up.  I was pleased to find it an enjoyable listen, easily on a par with Out of the Cellar, possibly Ratt’s best album.

Europe got 7 tracks on their version of the original mix (wishlist!), but this remixed version only has six.  Missing is “You’re In Trouble” which in re-recorded version was also on Out of the Cellar.  6 songs is a good length, too much Ratt can sound like razorblades coming at your ears, some times!  This self-titled debut keeps things brief, each of its songs more or less delivering the goods.

RATT LABELThe opener “Sweet Cheater” and “U Got It” are the faster side of Ratt.  I love Bobby “Da Blotz” Blotzer’s simple but gleeful drum intro.  (Can’t believe this guy was in Tateryche.)  Both songs have decent riffs, once again keeping things simple.  Pearcy’s trademark vocal snark is in fine form.  Ratt are not a great rock n’ roll band, but they certainly satisfy my cravings when I need some spandex-wrapped non-wimpy LA hard rock.  No ballads.  They had their own sound, largely due to Pearcy’s one-of-a-kind voice.

The closest thing to a ballad would be “Back For More”, which is to say, it has some acoustic guitars before Pearcy yelps, “You turn him away, you tell him you’re mine, You make him believe you’re but one of a kind.”  Meaningless but cocky.  Which maybe sums up the whole Ratt experience.  This is an early version of the hit song from Out of the Cellar, a bit longer, needing some of the fat trimmed.

“Walkin’ the Dog” is a Rufus Thomas cover via Aerosmith.  Aerosmith were in no danger of being dethroned by Ratt’s version, but it’s fun.  It suits their sound, it’s heavy, they throw their own attitude into it, and I’m sure there were youngsters of the 1980’s who assumed it was their own original tune.  The guitar solo is great.

The best song is the single “You Think You’re Tough”.  If Ratt has two sides (fast, and mid-tempo) then this is the mid-tempo side.  The riff is one of their best, the chorus and bridges are great, and the video had both Ozzy and Motley Crue in it.  Cool.

That’s Tawny Kitaen on the cover.  Pre-Coverdale.  She was dating Robbin Crosby at the time!

4/5 stars

Side A:

  1. “Sweet Cheater”
  2. “You Think You’re Tough”
  3. “U Got It”

Side B:

  1. “Tell the World”
  2. “Back for More”
  3. “Walkin’ the Dog”

UPDATE: Two Queensryches? F***!

(Below: Sarzo)


http://www.bravewords.com/news/189489

http://www.bravewords.com/news/189504

The “real”Queenryche:
Eddie Jackson (bass), Scott Rockenfield (drums), Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren (guitars), Todd La Torre (new singer)

Geoff Tate’s new “second” Queensryche:  Rudy Sarzo (bass, ex-Dio, ex-Quiet Riot, ex-Ozzy, ex-Whitesnake), Bobby Blotzer (drums, Ratt), Glen Drover (guitars, ex-Megadeth), Kelly Gray (guitars, ex-Queensryche) and Randy Gane (keyboards, ex-Myth).

Getting (Canadian!) Glen Drover is a huge coup.  Sarzo’s history speaks for itself. Gray is no surprise, at least to me.  But “Da Blotz” Bobby Blotzer on drums?  Seriously, Geoff?  That’s…uhhh…an interesting choice for a new Queensryche.  What, was Frankie Banali unavailable so next on the list was Da Blotz?

My initial impressions are as follows:  Drover’s brilliant but this new patchwork Queensryche smells like the new Guns N’ Roses.  Blotzer is a choice that just boggles my mind.  I guess we’ll see how it goes, but my money’s on the old Queensryche.   Still can’t believe the fans have to deal with two Queensryches, now.  Hopefully the courts will put this to an end in 2013 and rule that the guys who booted Geoff out by  majority vote have the rights to the name….

This is just getting stupid.  Geoff, stop being a douche!

If you like Queensryche, check these out:

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part I

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part II

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part III

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part IV