By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
RATT – RATT (1983)
If ignorance is not an excuse, then I have no real way to explain how it is that I either never knew or somehow blocked from my memory that the band Ratt released a self-titled EP before they put out their full-length debut album Out of the Cellar.
I say this because on a recent shopping excursion to my favorite local independent record shop, I learned the store had purchased a sizeable cassette collection. While I dug my way through the tapes that seemed to be in rather amazing condition, I came across the Ratt EP and couldn’t for the life of me remember ever hearing about it. Obviously I had to buy the cassette.
What I learned about the album is that it was surprisingly good. For me, I’ve always loved Out of the Cellar as the band’s best release and after that, Ratt was more of a “songs that got played on the radio and MTV” kind of band. I heard a couple of their other albums in full but the singles always seemed to outshine the album tracks for me.
The EP showcases the band in their most rocking style, forgoing any attempt at a ballad track. Each of the six songs is a pretty fast moving rocker and given that this is the earliest recorded output for Ratt, their sound seems a bit more raw than the polished production sound of their other albums.
The opening song “Sweet Cheater” is probably my favorite track on this EP. It’s a really hard-driving and hard-hitting number that struck me as being one of the heavier sounding tracks Ratt has in their song catalog. And that previously mentioned rawer feel to the music is fully evidenced here.
The song “You Think You’re Tough” is pretty fast moving as well but it is just a bit slower in tempo than “Sweet Cheater”. When I first heard it, I wasn’t sure what I thought but when I went back and listened to it again, I really thought it hit home with me a lot more the second time around.
I will say that I thought the chorus for “U Got It” came off a bit more simplistic than I think I would’ve liked. I mean, it fit the song fine but it just felt like it was missing a little something extra to make it more memorable. But that said, I did like the song as a whole. I liked “Tell The World” as well.
There’s an earlier version of the song “Back For More” on the EP as well. The song got the re-recorded treatment for the Out of the Cellar album but it made for interesting listening to hear this previous version. There’s some noticeable differences in the song but the basic framework of the song is pretty much the same with both renditions of the track.
The EP closes out with a cover of the Memphis blues and soul singer Rufus Thomas song “Walkin’ The Dog”. Aerosmith did their own version of the song back in 1973 but it was Thomas who originally wrote and performed the song. This rendition is likely more comparable to the Aerosmith version but I enjoyed listening to it.
One of the things I found out while looking up information on this release online was that when the band hit it big with Out of the Cellar, their record label remixed the EP to give it more of a polished production sheen and bring it in line with how the group sounded on their debut album and then reissued the EP. I’m not actually sure which version of the album I have here but I’m probably going to say that it is the remixed edition. Still, despite the possible production changes, the band’s somewhat rawer feel for this earliest material manages to still shine through.
I was pretty pleased to discover (or thanks to a potentially faulty memory, re-discover) this EP. It gives me a new viewpoint on the band’s music and I’m glad to say that I found the music pretty entertaining. So much so that I may just have to think about checking out some of their other albums all over again and write about them down the line.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The European version of the Ratt EP contains an additional track. It’s an earlier recording of the song “You’re In Trouble” which found its re-recorded way onto the Out of the Cellar album as well.
The model for the EP’s cover art was Tawny Kitaen. At the time, she was the girlfriend of Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby.