THIS WEEK I’M LISTENING TO...RATT The Atlantic Years 1984 – 1990 (Atlantic/BMG)THIS WEEK I’M LISTENING TO...RATT The Atlantic Years 1984 – 1990 (Atlantic/BMG)

It’s probably hard for younger metal fans to appreciate just how big Ratt were back in the day. The fact that the first four albums went Platinum in the States, multiple times over, may just come across as a statistic, but the band’s popularity and fanbase was huge. And it’s possible that the people who now dismiss them with the pejorative term ‘hair metal’ these days were queuing for the hottest ticket in town when the band opened for Ozzy Osbourne across the UK in February 1986.


‘The Atlantic Years 1984 – 1990’ throws the spotlight on those heady days of wine and roses. Having released a six-track EP in August 1983 on Enigma which Music For Nations picked up for the UK (the European version copped an extra track in ‘You’re In Trouble’) the band came to the attention of Atlantic and pen and paper were swiftly offered. The first album of this deal, ‘Out Of The Cellar’, appeared in February 1984 and, buoyed by the success of single ‘Round And Round’, peaked at No.7 on Billboard. Since then the album has gone on to be certified triple Platinum for sales of three million copies in America alone. The cover model, by the way, is Tawny Kitaen, whose legs adorned the EP’s cover and who was, at the time, dating guitarist Robbin Crosby before perhaps become better known as Mrs Coverdale.


If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing again, and May 1985’s ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’ followed pretty much the same template. Led by the staccato riff of ‘You’re in Love’ (and helped along the way by Billboard No.11 hit single ‘Lay It Down’) the album joined its predecessor in peaking on Billboard at No.7, and this time the British chart compilers also had their work to do as it hit No.50 in a brief two-week appearance over here. Two million sales have been clocked up on the far side of the Atlantic.


If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing again... Uh, hang on... Third time around sticking to a formula appears to have backfired. ‘Dancing Undercover’ (released in September 1986) treads the same path as its predecessors, but the gloss had now come off and the mid-paced third album does appear to be the work of a band struggling for ideas. Aside from opener ‘Dance’ there’s not a lot to shout about, and although its still earned vocalist Stephen Pearcy, guitarists Warren DeMartini and the aforementioned Robbin Crosby, bassist Juan Croucier and drummer Bobby Blotzer another platinum record its chart placing in the States, topping out at No.26 (although still managing No.51 in the UK), must have set alarm bells ringing.


As such, ‘Reach For The Sky’, despite its awful cover, did tweak the formula and saw the band back in the US Top 20 at No.17. Yet another platinum disc might have made up for a poor showing in the UK (No.82 in a one-week blink-and-you-miss-it run is the best it managed) and the catchy ‘Way Cool, Jr’ made a decent enough showing as a single, although the previous single drawn from the album, ‘I Want A Woman’, barely made a dent in the US charts.


The final album of their major label days, August 1990’s ‘Detonator’, saw the band lose their long-time producer Beau Hill in favour of hitmaker Desmond Child who then also copped a co-writing credit on everything but the intro cut. The single ‘Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job’ was heavily rotated on MTV, and the quirky ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’ showed the band were back in business. But although the album did respectable business, peaking at No.23 in America and No.55 over here, the writing was on the wall. Atlantic banged out a contractual ‘best of’ (‘Ratt & Roll 81-91’) in April 1991, but things were never the same again...


This set is certainly a worthy celebration of the band. For those with deep pockets, the limited edition vinyl box set is the one to get: all five albums on 180g vinyl, a rare 7” ‘Nobody Rides For Free’ single (from the soundtrack of the Reeves / Swayze ‘Point Break’ film), replica tour programme, poster, sticker etc etc. The alternative is a five CD box set which comes without all the ephemera and the hefty price tag, but to be fair only replicates the contents of the Cherry Red/Hear No Evil five CD set released just three years ago.

© John Tucker May 2023