Warren DiMartini

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”