We'll admit it, we were slightly surprised when we noticed soccer star Alexi Lalas repeatedly professing his love for Ratt on Twitter. So we asked if he'd take a momentary break from recording his soccer- and music-themed podcast 'The Shot' to contribute a list of his favorite songs from the group. Well, look what showed up in our mail -- a wonderfully written and well-thought out tribute to a band we agree doesn't get nearly enough attention. Enjoy!
"I'm a life-long Ratt fan. Ratt is, without question, my favorite band. I say that with no hesitation, hipster irony or inside joke smirk. From the moment I first heard them as a teenager, tucked away in the Detroit suburbs, they were mine. Never as raw as Motley, never as glam as Poison and never as pop as Bon Jovi, Ratt just seemed to perfectly fit what I wanted from a Sunset Strip rock band. Instantly recognizable vocals; guitar riffs and solos that resonated even after the song was done; big drums up front in the mix; bass that laid down an unwavering foundation; and great production that pulled it all together guaranteeing it would infest your ears. It was all there for me. And even now as a forty-two year old father, my love of Ratt shows no signs of abating. However, asking me to pick Ratt's 10 best songs invites far more pain than joy. I've tried to come up with the 10 that best represent why I love this band. My one concession to my obsession is that I omitted 'Round And Round' which is, to most, Ratt's calling card and finest moment. The song remains a pure pop-rock gem. It's iconic and deserves to be separated. I hope you understand."
'Shame Shame Shame'From: 'Detonator' (1990)
Stephen Pearcy just sounds wonderfully dirty and sleazy throughout this song. As Bobby Blotzer works the hi-hat in verses that creep along Warren DeMartini is ferociously toiling away with a riff that darts in and out pushing the upbeat. Never has Pearcy sounded more like what I imagine a rodent would sound like (1:56). The ending vocal breakdown (4:25) is the final scolding to whomever Pearcy has been dressing down.
'Eat Me Up Alive'From: 'Infestation' (2010)
Ratt's first album in over 10 years… and it was very good. If it had been released after 'Detonator' the good times may have kept on rolling. 'Eat Me Up Alive' is what 'You're In Love' never evolved into. It's also reflects what has always seemingly been a constant struggle that Pearcy has waged trying to reconcile his desire to be more metal despite his obvious pop sensibilities. The verses and pre-chorus are raw and dissonant but the chorus is the pure pop payoff... but like a Reeses cup, it works.
'Sweet Cheater'From: 'Ratt' EP (1983)
Every starts somewhere. This is Ratt when they were still stuck in the cellar. Raw, unpolished and about as thrash as they ever got. The kind of song you want to hear live in a sweaty club, with bad sound, alongside 500 other juvenile delinquents.
'Luv Sick'From: 'Ratt' (1999)
This album is not for the faint of heart but there is some quality, like 'Luv Sick.' DeMartini handles all guitars and he goes to work. Solo's flying in left and right and a lead riff that writes itself. He doubles up the bluesy lead throughout (0:10) with a funky wah sound adding some texture that we hadn't heard before. But the chorus is vintage Ratt and the breakdown (1:09) is instantly a return to familiar Ratt territory. Yes, the fade out jam (3:33) lasts too long but it's DeMartini, and you feel like you're almost sitting in his den while he hammers away…which is not a bad place to be.
'No Surprise'From: 'Reach for the Sky' (1988)
This is an obscure song and I may be the only one who appreciates it, but since I'm writing this column I get at least one guilty pleasure. I love the vocals on this song. From the acapella intro to the choruses, the harmonies are interesting throughout. Pearcy's scream while literally singing "makes me want to scream" is like a lion's roar (1:27).
'Nobody Rides for Free'From: 'Ratt & Roll 81-91' (1991)
The band didn't write this song and at the time of recording Crosby had departed. Who knows how much these factors contributed, but this song shows some dynamics and spacing that made it unique and memorable. It was a a Ratt song that breathed, a rare thing indeed, and maybe the circumstances enabled that to happen. The suspended chord at the beginning of each verse is beautiful (1:05). We see the bluesy part of DeMartini peek out for a moment (2:10) with a cool economy of notes that I like even better than the traditional solo that he later delivers. It was included in the 'Point Break' soundtrack, so it's fitting that the song always seemed to have an undercurrent of danger. This song doesn't make me think of the party, more the consequences after the party.
'Body Talk'From: 'Dancing Undercover' (1986)
Arranged by Juan Croucier this song is multiple pieces that somehow work together in the end. DeMartini's clean intro and the way it seemingly switches from major to minor in the same key between verse and chorus almost make it 3 songs in one. Pearcy does some interesting things with the vocals to avoid repetition like the change in the way he phrases the title at the end (2:57). I never feel like I've completely listened to this song until Blotzer's double-time fadeout off-beat snare fill has come and gone (3:34). It's that cool.
'Wanted Man'From: 'Out of the Cellar' (1984)
C'mon, who doesn't love cowboys!? If Cellar was your first Ratt album then this was the first song you heard when you laid down the needle. It's the scream that gets you. Yes, Pearcy's scream at the beginning (0:21) was all I needed. All compressed and chorused out, it's the harbinger of the perfect storm to come. The scream returns with the final chorus of the song (2:55) and to this day when I sing along I silently hi-five myself for hitting the note. The awkward phrasing that Pearcy uses when singing "cause I'm a (pause) a wanted man" had me perplexed for years but it all made sense eventually when I realized what he was actually saying. Incidentally, check out the pre-chorus that they slipped in before the abbreviated second chorus (2:03). Subtle but deadly.
'Dance'From: 'Dancing Undercover' (1986)
It all starts with the swirling, massive delay intro from DeMartini and is followed by, for my money, the quintessential Pearcy vocal performance. Simple chorus equally built for the car or arena and huge harmonies that demand it be sung. The high harmony note on the chorus lead-in complements the return of the intro riff and pushes everything perfectly into the larger-than-life chorus. Bliss ensues.
'Lay It Down'From: 'Invasion of Your Privacy' (1985)
The best and most memorable DeMartini opening riff in the Ratt catalogue. I have it as a ringtone and I have even used it in business settings as my intro music. It drips authority, letting you know that something big is coming and when it arrives, aided by the drop D tuning, it's bigger than you even imagined. It's hard to make a kick drum performance interesting, but Blotzer manages to do so on this song. I love the little things. Like the backup vocals randomly ghosting in ahead of the "Lay it down" chorus lines (2:55). Also, listen for Robbin Crosby's demonic baritone backup vocal cutting through the mix and adding the human element. Equal amounts of sugar and spice, sinners and saints, 'Lay It Down' is the perfect Ratt song.