Ratt – The Atlantic Years

Ratt – The Atlantic Years
Release Date: 09/06/23
Running Time: 03:10:33
Review by Simon Black

Being a bit long in the tooth, my early experiences of all things Metal actually started with the kind of 80’s Hair Metal that the likes of Ratt and everyone else who crawled out of the gutter in L.A. in that decade and made into a global phenomenon, although these guys didn’t really cross my radar at the time. Okay, so I knew plenty of the floor-filler hits DJ’s of the time that would blast out at the Rock bars and clubs in my hometown of Nottingham, but this five disk set of those glory days records is actually the first time I have actually sat down and listened to any of their recordings properly. 

I guess at the time I felt that, like Poison, they were a bit too commercial for me, and I would always opt more for the more down and dirty, more Hanoi Rocks /Aerosmith inspired end of things ranging from later decade Mötley Crüe to the masters Guns ‘N’ Roses, but to be honest by the time this decade was out my tastes had shifted into the heavier end of things, so have never had a reason to go back and see what the fuss was about.

Like many of their L.A. contemporaries, Ratt’s formation was a slow coagulative process, as bands came and went in that city’s melting pot from the late 70’s, before finally exploding when the gaudy 80’s truly got going. MTV video play took them and their ilk to a huge national, then international audience and blew up the whole L.A. club scene into something that would fill arenas (plus a few arena sized holes in the ozone layer thanks to the liberal use of hair products at the time).

“Out of the Cellar” starts well enough, and the first thing that strikes me is actually how technically proficient the interplay between guitarists Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini is. My problem with so many bands from this highly commercial end of the movement was that the guitar work actually often wasn’t so tight, but you can tell that the British Hard Rock invasion and the blistering shredding of Van Halen had had an influence. The pair of them weave well for the most part. What doesn’t age well on this and the follow up is the preponderance of sheer sexist drivel that crept into the lyrics and the album covers of the period, and even as a sweaty teenager I would generally steer clear of albums with some barely dressed model adorning the cover. The argument that everyone was doing it was all very well, but it got old very quickly. 

“Invasion Of Your Privacy” really feels like a direct continuation of this, and at this point the over-modification of Stephen Pearcy’s voice that characterises their sound starts. The 80’s were always the decade of excessive reverb in the studio, but so heavily layered and modulated is his voice on both this and the follow up “Dancing Undercover” that it almost feels like they may have invented the autotuner a whole decade early. The guitar work and high production values on the instruments stop this from feeling too artificial though, but this really is the peak of their Pop-Rock period. 

Disk 3 really does feel like the third part of a trilogy (albeit a little heavier and meatier) and mercifully the cover has moved onto moody portrait shots of the band. Call it samey, or call it consistent, the net effect is that these guys could definitely crank out 9 or 10 tracks at a time that retained a house style, and although many albums from this period suffered from being 30% hitter and 70% filler, their songwriting is remarkably undeviating, and actually reverses those ratios. That said, this sort of stuff is really not my bag, even though they deliver it well.

“Reach For The Sky” is a slightly different beast however, and one that starts to grab my attention. It’s way heavier than anything that went before, with the guitar work noting that Thrash had torn the world a new poo hole by this point, although there are motes of the Blues in there too. The song-writing seems to have taken note that change is in the air, yet the band seem uncertain how to handle it, and the net effect is a record that feels a little too experimental, unfinished and lacks even a floor filler to make it distinctive. 

“Detonator” however continues that shift more completely to a more bluesy tone and much heavier delivery while retaining the catchy commercialism of before in both the writing and performing. This may well have shaken their fans at the time, but it feels a subtly less polished and commercial affair. Even when they get commercial with the Desmond Child influence in the writing (‘Loving You Is A Dirty Job’) that down and dirty Blues riff makes it work. Thankfully Pearcy has turned off most of the reverb, meaning we get to hear a more gutsy and honest sounding delivery that I simply wasn’t expecting.

This was their final record with Atlantic, and as the 90’s dawned the triple forces of the bands own toxic interpersonal relationships, substance abuse and the dreaded Grunge movement meant that this would be the last thing this original ‘classic’ line up would deliver together until a foreshortened four-piece version minus the ailing Robin Crosby surfaced in 1999. They’ve come and gone a fair few times since then, but internal legal disputes which saw multiple versions competing against each other basically meant that this five disk reissue is really the best snapshot you can have of a band who, whether you like the genre or not, kicked down the door and took Glam Metal from the clubs to something much larger.

‘You’re In Love’ – Official Video

Disc 1: Out Of The Cellar
01. Wanted Man
02. You’re In Trouble
03. Round And Round
04. In Your Direction
05. She Wants Money
06. Lack Of Communication
07. Back For More
08. The Morning After
09. I’m Insane
10. Scene Of The Crime

Disk 2: Invasion Of Your Privacy
01. You’re In Love
02. Never Use Love
03. Lay It Down
04. Give It All
05. Closer To My Heart
06. Between The Eyes
07. What You Give Is What You Get
08. Got Me On The Line
09. You Should Know By Now
10. Dangerous But Worth The Risk

Disk 3: Dancing Undercover
01. Dance
02. One Good Lover
03. Drive Me Crazy
04. Slip Of The Lip
05. Body Talk
06. Looking For Love
07. 7th Avenue
08. It Doesn’t Matter
09. Take A Chance
10. Enough Is Enough

Disk 4: Reach For The Sky
01. City To City
02. I Want A Woman
03. Way Cool Jr.
04. Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds
05. I Want To Love You Tonight
06. Chain Reaction
07. No Surprise
08. Bottom Line
09. What’s It Gonna Be
10. What I’m After

Disk 5: Detonator
01. Intro To Shame
02. Shame Shame Shame
03. Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job
04. Scratch That Itch
05. One Step Away
06. Hard Time
07. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
08. All Or Nothing
09. Can’t Wait On Love
10. Givin’ Yourself Away
11. Top Secret

Stephen Pearcy – Lead Vocals
Robbin Crosby – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Warren DeMartini – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Juan Croucier – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Bobby Blotzer – Drums, Percussion


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.