Out Of The Cellar (Atlantic ’84) Rating: B+
Like so many bands, Ratt never topped their first album, Out Of The Cellar, though they had some notable hit singles (“You’re In Love,” “Lay It Down,” “Dance,” “Way Cool Jr.”) and successful albums thereafter (until Nevermind, anyway). Really, the only reason I’m reviewing this album is because I just finished reading David Konow’s enjoyable if hardly revelatory book, Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal, which mostly chronicles the rise and fall of the ‘80s L.A. “hair metal” bands like Ratt and which got me in a nostalgic mood. That said, songs such as “Wanted Man” and “Back For More,” on which Ratt hits on good riff-based grooves and adds catchy harmonized choruses, hold up extremely well and are still enjoyable today, while “Round and Round” is still perfect in its catchy simplicity and deserves its status as one of the definitive ‘80s hard rock hits. The rest of this album is hopelessly generic and at times pretty cheesy but is mostly enjoyable; after all, there's fun cheesy and then there’s bad cheesy, and this album delivers far more of the former than the latter. Alas, the band’s limited musical skills (guitarist Warren DeMartini being easily the most accomplished band member) and lack of range, particularly singer Steven Pearcy, wears somewhat thin over the course of these 10 same-sounding songs. Then again, there’s not a power ballad in sight (that’s a good thing), and the band’s studio polished, pop friendly (and sometimes quite moody) hard rock sound (“metal” might be pushing it) goes down easy enough when the songwriting is up to snuff. As such, I consider Out Of The Cellar to be an enjoyable guilty pleasure, even if it will likely be remembered as little more than a period piece from a less than sincere musical scene. Also recommended: Ratt & Roll 81-91, which gathers the three aforementioned songs plus the best of the rest of the band’s career during the period chronicled (19 tracks in total).

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