By 1993, Ratt had broken up and Cinderella split with their drummer. Singer Stephen Pearcy and drummer Fred Coury then joined forces in a new hard rock band called Arcade. Promoting their debut album, Arcade played RPM in Toronto on July 17 1993 — their only Canadian date. They stopped by MuchMusic’s Start Me Up program (one of the only shows still playing rock music) for a quick chat with Michael Williams, who was introducing them on stage later that night.
With former bands never mentioned by name, Arcade discuss their current lineup and the Toronto Grand Prix. Was Pearcy wasted?
WE WISH YOU A METAL XMAS AND A HEADBANGING NEW YEAR (2008 Armoury)
Yep, It’s another Bob Kulick album with various guests. You know what you’re going to get. Let’s not dilly-dally; let’s crack open the cranberry sauce and see what a Metal Xmas sounds like.
Generic! A truly ordinary title track features the amazing Jeff Scott Soto on lead vocals, but it’s a purely cookie-cutter arrangement with all the cheesy adornments you expect. Ray Luzier fans will enjoy the busy drums, but this does not bode well for the album.
Fortunately it’s Lemmy to the rescue, with “Run Rudolph Run”, an utterly classic performance with Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl. All spit n’ vinegar with no apologies and nary a mistletoe in sight. I remember playing this for my sister Dr. Kathryn Ladano in the car one Christmas.
When Lemmy opened his yap, she proclaimed “This is bullshit! How come they get to make albums and not me?”
Lemmy Kilmister, pissing people off since day one, has done it again. You can buy the CD for “Run Rudolph Run” even if the rest is utter shit.
A silly “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Alice Cooper echoes “The Black Widow”, but novelty value aside, is not very good. A joke song can only take you so far, and Alice is usually far more clever. (At least John 5’s soloing is quite delicious.) And even though Dio is next, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” comes across as a joke, too. Which is a shame because the lineup is a Dio/Sabbath hybrid: Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo, and Simon Wright. Dio’s joyless, dead serious interpretation is amusing only because of its unintentional dry humour.
Funny enough, Geoff Tate’s “Silver Bells” has the right attitude. Even though Geoff is perpetually flat, his spirited version (with Carlos Cavazo, James Lomenzo and Ray Luzier) kicks up some snow. That makes me happy, but it pains me to say that Dug Pinnick’s “Little Drummer Boy” (with George Lynch, Billy Sheehan and Simon Phillips) doesn’t jingle. Ripper Owens, Steve More & pals team up next on “Santa Claus is Back in Town”, so bad that it borders on parody.
The most bizarre track is Chuck Billy’s “Silent Night”, with thrash buddies like Scott Ian. Chuck performs it in his death metal growl, and it’s pure comedy. Oni Logan can’t follow that with “Deck the Halls”, though it’s pretty inoffensive. Stephen Pearcy’s “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” adapts the riff from “Tie Your Mother Down” and succeeds in creating a listenable track. “Rockin’ Around the Xmas Tree” is ably performed by Joe Lynn Turner, sounding a lot like a Christmas party jam.
The final artist is Tommy Shaw with John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”. It’s an authentic version and while not a replacement for the original, will be enjoyable to Styx fans.
Christmas albums by rock artists are, let’s be honest, rarely worthwhile. This one has only a handful of keepers so spend wisely.
2017 was, from almost every angle, a shit year. Another onslaught of losses in music, entertainment and sports (another list on its own). 2017 was as devastating as 2016, but perhaps all that loss was turned into musical dividends. Before the year was even half over, I had already found my #1 album of 2017 from a surprising corner. I knew as soon as I heard it that it was something remarkable. I pencilled it into the #1, wondering who would topple it. Over the months, no-one did. Though my annual Top Five Albums list was not finalised until last week, the #1 album never changed.
Before we get to albums, however, let’s check out some winners in other categories!
I put my reputation on the line when I recommended The Party to everyone I knew. I only got good reviews in return. For the record, it was our own Uncle Meat, back in July, who broke the news of this box set. He knows someone involved with the remastering and was aware of the project well before the public was. Though the packaging was bare bones, the reissue otherwise hits all the bases.
What was probably my #1 album for Christmas 1987 is my favourite reissue in 2017. In a year featuring fantastic reissues by Marillion (Misplaced Childhood) and Whitesnake (1987), none brought me back in time like Leppard’s Hysteria did.
TOP FIVE ALBUMS OF 2017
In case you doubt, check out Deke’s list over at “Arena Rock”. One of my favourite rock scribes agrees with me on most of these releases. ‘Twas Deke who turned me onto the #5 album — thanks bud.
Normally I exclude live albums from my lists, but this has been a special year.
I haven’t cared so much about Styx since I was 10 years old! What an incredible album The Mission is. And I’m counting it as CanCon, because of singer/pianist Lawrence Gowan (but you can call him Larry).
Other fun categories!
BEST NEW ARTIST– Greta Van Fleet
BEST SOUNDTRACK– John Williams, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
STEPHEN 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.
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.