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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Ratt

The Atlantic Years: 1984-1990

Review by Gary Hill

This new box set assembles Ratt's five albums on Atlantic Records. Of course, the title probably gave that away, right? The first four albums each have one bonus track. The fifth one has three bonus tracks.

I have to say that out of the 1980s bands that were associated with the "hair metal" movement, I've always found Ratt to be one of the best. I remember not being much of a fan until I saw them live after having been talked into going. Their sound is equal parts bluesy hard rock and heavy metal. They are as much about catchy hooks as they are about killer riffs.

This is a great way to get all five albums in one purchase. It includes a booklet/poster. All five CDs come in sleeves that replicate the original album covers. It all comes in a nice cardboard clamshell case, really completing the package.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
CD One
                
Out of the Cellar (1984)
                 
Wanted Man

Starting almost like a more metallic version of Aerosmith, this is a great way to start the album in style. It drops to a more balladic approach for the verse. They rock it back out as they move forward.

You're in Trouble
I love the almost funky bass work on this thing. The tune is more of a hard-rocking jam than it is metal. The chorus has some great hooks. The guitar solo section does bring it more into the metal vein, and that solo is on fire.
Round and Round
The band's breakthrough hit, this stomper still holds up really well. It has a solid hook, memorable guitar riffs and some real chops.
In Your Direction
Another edgy hard rocker that has plenty of hooks and polish, this is another stomper that is strong. It's not a highlight of the set mainly because of the competition. This would be a highlight of a lot of albums. Here it's an "also ran." The guitar solo section is purely on fire here.
She Wants Money
I love the meaty guitar sound at the core of this. The cut is a fast-paced hard rocker that has some strong hooks. It's almost more hard rock than metal, but there is enough crunch here to qualify.
Lack of Communication
I love the unusual chorus on this cut. The number has a great energy and some cool hooks and riffs.
Back for More
Coming in with a balladic element, this eventually fires out into a melodic metal stomper. This is one of my favorite tunes on the album, and it still holds up really well.
The Morning After
This is sort of a trademark Ratt song. It feels a bit like some of the rest here, which keeps it from really standing all that tall. However, it still works quite well.
I'm Insane
Fast-paced and hard rocking this is a bit of a change, and a potent tune rolled into one.
Scene of the Crime

For some reason the guitar build up at the start of this reminds me a bit of "Baba O'Riley." The tune works out into more of a standard Ratt hard rocker from there. The lyrics are angry as this is a song about betrayal and its aftermath.

Bonus Track
    
Round and Round (Single Edit)

We get the single version of "Round and Round" here as a bonus track.

CD 2
                
Invasion of Your Privacy (1985)
          
You're in Love

If anything thing, this album starts even harder rocking and more metallic than the first set did. It definitely has more of a metallic edge to it, but doesn't sacrifice the hooks to get that sound.

Never Use Love
The guitar riff at the heart of this is particularly meaty. The tune is screaming hot.
Lay It Down
Not as furious as the first couple tracks on this set, this tune still has plenty of fire and fury. It has some killer hooks, too.
Give It All
The guitar part that opens this has more of a hard rocking vibe that feels a bit like Van Halen to me. From there they launch out into a jam that has more of that trademark Ratt sound built into it.
Closer to My Heart
I love the whole vibe of this. It's more of a melodic rocker than a metal tune, but it has plenty of crunch in the mix. The hooks on this are classic in nature, and the whole song is just so tasty. It's this kind of song that really elevates this band, and shows that they are superior to so many of their contemporaries.
Between the Eyes
The hard rocking groove on this is classy. It has an almost NWOBHM sound to it in some ways. This definitely rethinks the formula, but is not the most successful piece here.
What You Give Is What You Get
I dig the melodic, but still crunchy guitar work on this thing. It's very much a trademark Ratt tune. It's also very effective.
Got Me on the Line
Starting with a phone ringing and being answered, they launch into another powerhouse metal stomper from there.
You Should Know By Now
This is another meaty metal rocking stomper. It has some smoking hot guitar work, and really works well.
Dangerous But Worth the Risk
High-energy and riff driven, this is another screaming hot metal stomper.
Bonus Track
        
What You Give Is What You Get (Single Edit)

Here we get another single edit. This cut is just so mean and tasty in any format. The chorus hook is all class, too.

CD 3
                  
Dancing Undercover (1986)
                
Dance

Mix the trademark Ratt sound with Van Halen and you'll be in the neighborhood of this cut. It's more of a mainstream, accessible stomper, but it's also very cool.

One Good Lover
This one feels more like trademark Ratt. It's not a surprise, but it's very effective.
Drive Me Crazy
There is a ferocity and fire built into this thing. It's decidedly Ratt, but there is a real screaming energy to it.
Slip of the Lip
I dig the rocking groove on this thing. As you expect from Ratt is has both catchy hooks and meaty riffs.
Body Talk
Furious and screaming hot, this is a powerhouse tune.
Looking for Love
Here's another tune that brings a metal edge to a killer hard rocking sound. The riffing on this is among the best from the band. That says a lot. Yet, the chorus hook is one of the most pop-rock oriented ones they've done, too.
7th Avenue
Here is another meaty stomper that's trademark Ratt. This is fierce, catchy and so cool.
It Doesn't Matter
Another with some particularly catchy hooks, this is unmistakable as Ratt.
Take a Chance
Not a big change or surprise, this is another classic Ratt-styled tune.
Enough Is Enough
This number starts in more of a melodic rock sound. It's another that makes me think of Van Halen quite a bit. While I enjoy the song and appreciate the variety it brings, I'm not sure it was the right choice to close the disc. It would have probably served the set better some place more around the middle. Still, this is a strong tune that works well.
Bonus Track
   
Dance (Single Edit)
As you might gather, here we get the single edit from the album.
CD 4
                  
Reach for the Sky (1988)
               
City to City

Appropriately starting with the sounds of a city, this comes in with a vibe that unmistakably Ratt, but also shows some maturity and evolution. It's a meaty hard rocker with plenty of metal crunch.

I Want a Woman
Another that focuses a bit more on the hard rock, rather than metal, side of the equation, this is still another strong tune. It' has some hints of that Van Halen thing that I have heard from time to time.
Way Cool Jr.
This song that was the single from the album is a big change. It's built around a real blues rock groove. It has some cool hooks and a very different sound.
Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds
More like the kind of driving, yet catchy, metal you expect from Ratt, this is a powerhouse tune. It has some killer guitar soloing on it, too.
I Want to Love You Tonight
Another that's closer to the typical Ratt stomper, this has some exceptionally tasty guitar soloing built into it.
Chain Reaction
Furious and fierce, this really brings the old school Ratt metal sound back to the front. This is one of my favorites on the album. It just screams and does it so well.
No Surprise
Another that combines the metal side with a mainstream rock edge, this is more like classic Ratt. It's also another highlight of the set.
Bottom Line
This is another killer tune that's more in line with the band's previous catalog of tunes.
What's It Gonna Be
The riff on this is particularly meaty. The song has more of a mainstream pop rock sound, but delivered with trademark Ratt hard rock turned metal fury.
What I'm After
This screamer is another that's more in line with the older Ratt sound. It's also a meaty cut that's very effective.
Bonus Track
               
Way Cool Jr. (MTV Unplugged)

This tune works so well in an acoustic vein. It's a lot of fun. I think I prefer this to the version on the album proper.

CD 5
          
Detonator (1990)
                 
Intro to Shame

Feedback and distortion drenched, this intro is screaming hot.

Shame Shame Shame
Coming out of the intro, this seems to take the classic Ratt sound and drive it forward by making it even meaner and more metal. It's such a strong tune. In fact, it's one of my favorites from their whole catalog.
Lovin' You's a Dirty Job
More of a raunch and roll vibe drives this. It has as much blues rock built into it as metal. It's a classy screamer.
Scratch That Itch
Wow! This thing is on fire. It has some screaming hot metal at its core, but the hooks are still all over it. There is a bit of a Van Halen-like break built into the tune.
One Step Away
This has a definite classic Ratt sound. It has all the classic hard rock texture to it. It's packed with hooks and style.
Hard Time
Another screaming hot rocker, this has a melodic bridge, and is a particularly effective cut.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose
Not a big change, this is just what you expect from Ratt, a killer hard rocker turned metal.
All or Nothing
There is something special about the way the vocal performance on this song works with the bluesy rocking riff at the heart of it. This definitely lands more on the blues rock side of the equation, but it's also one of the strongest tunes in the band's repertoire.
Can't Wait on Love

Meaty metal sounds are on display here. This is another winner on a set that's full of them.

Givin' Yourself Away
Another screamer, this has some mean riffs, too.
Top Secret
They close the album proper with another smoking hot tune that is trademark Ratt.
Bonus Tracks
               
Lovin' You's a Dirty Job (Ratt Fonic Monster Mix)

There was a time when dance remixes were all the rage. I never really understood it. Here we have one of those. There is a whole techno, dance groove that opens the piece and holds it. Eventually they bring in the main riff and vocal lines, but overall this thing is annoying.

Lovin' You's a Dirty Job (Ratt Fonic Radio Mix)
This is just a shortened version of the previous cut. Again, I don't think this works at all. Still, it's a bonus track.
Nobody Rides for Free (Point Break Soundtrack)
Now, this is more like it. This is a rocker that sounds very much like it could have fit well on an earlier disc from the band. It is quite effective really.
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