Ratt : The Atlantic Years : 1984 – 1990 : 5 CD Box Set
Ratt : The Atlantic Years : 1984 – 1991 : Vinyl Deluxe Box Set
The Vinyl set features all 5 albums remastered on 180g black vinyl, the rare “Nobody Rides For Free” 7″ single.
12 page replica tour book (featuring rare and never before seen photos from Ratt’s personal archives), 11″x17″ WANTED POSTER, bumper sticker, replica backstage pass, and guitar pick in a custom lift top box.
The CD set features all 5 of the studio albums in a side loading box. All albums feature the classic line up of Stephen Pearcy (vocals), Warren DeMartini (guitars), Robbin Crosby (guitars), Juan Croucier (bass/vocals), and Bobby Blotzer (drums).
1984’s Out Of The Cellar kicks off proceedings, and the line-up here features vocalist Stephen Pearcy, guitarists Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini, bassist Juan Croucier and drummer Bobby Blotzer. From the outset, from the opening chords of Wanted Man, it’s a glammy full frequency sonic assault that mixes full on crunchy guitars with melodic AOR breaks. Some of the songs Crosby had written in his previous band. The producer Beau Hill was apparently a novice but does a fine job, given the style and target audience, and the album went triple platinum in the US, spawning an MTV hit or two; one of the videos featured Tawny Kitaen, who also appears on the album’s cover. Occasional shred and guitar harmonies make for a good album, but there isn’t muc;h in the way of change of pace of feel.
The following year’s Invasion Of Your Privacy followed suit, and went double platinum in the US. More tours, radio play and hits followed. The sultry shot of a scantily clad model on the cover lays the cards on the table in terms of the continued musical style. Pearcy’s vocals match the zeitgeist perfectly, and hits like Lay It Down are an enjoyable listen.
1986 saw third album Dancing Undercover, more hit singles including the opening track Dance, and tours with the likes of Cheap Trick, Queensryche, Poison and Cinderella. Some of the tracks verge on straight heavy metal, but even on those Pearcy’s vocals give that sleaze edge. An enjoyable track is Body Talk, which was used in the Eddie Murphy film The Golden Child.
Fourth album Reach For The Sky, released in 1988, another solid album, still managed to go platinum in the US, but the sales were notably down from earlier albums. While it still had a glam edge, it was not as sleazy as earlier efforts. Way Cool Jr was one of the catchy sleazier tracks, but that part of Ratt’s sound was largely lost to the likes of Poison, Crue and G’n’R. Absolutely nothing wrong with the album. It’s solid, but a little more ordinary at the same time.
In order to try to recreate past glories, produced Desmond Child was brought in for 1990’s Detonator. And without being overtly sleezy, there is a distinct move to a more commercial glam metal/pop (not too dissimilar to the then recent transition made by Kiss). Still solid, a power ballad and all, full credit for keeping going in the face of grunge, a trend that successfully killed off much better bands. But the album only managed gold sales, which would signal the end of an era.
The CD Box Set
In terms of content and packaging, there are no extras. Singly gatefold digipaks in a box, no booklets, no reproduction of original LP inner sleeves. On the surface, with all the recording, production and line-up details you’d expect on the album sleeve, it’s lovely, it’s beautifully simple, almost minimalistic. Personally, I’d love a bit more. Whether album or album notes or a larger booklet to span the era, that would be nice for fans. And between the pre debut EP, the earlier band’s demos, single b-sides or additional live material, there is plenty of scope for extras, and on that note, it’s quite the missed opportunity.
Exploring the Vinyl Set:
While the CD set offers a straightforward presentation, it is the vinyl set that truly shines with its captivating extras. In addition to the albums pressed on 180-gram black vinyl, the vinyl set includes a rare 7-inch single of the 1991 song “Nobody Rides For Free,” a 16-page replica tour book filled with never-before-seen behind-the-scenes photos, a vintage poster, a bumper sticker, a backstage pass, and a Ratt plectrum (guitar pick). The vinyl set is housed in a sturdy box adorned with the Ratt logo.
Comparing the Manufacturing:
The original vinyl albums from the 1980s are compared to the new vinyl pressings in the box set. The original albums were often packaged with thin and flimsy card covers, while the new pressings are presented in high-quality, solid card sleeves. The difference in manufacturing is significant, making the new box set a more substantial and durable collector’s item.
The Sound and Remastering:
While there is no explicit information about remastering, the CDs and vinyl albums in the Ratt Atlantic Years box sets sound excellent. The tracks retain their power, crispness, and emotive qualities, making them a joy to listen to. The albums capture the essence of the rock and roll of that era and remain timeless in their appeal.
The Nostalgic Experience:
For fans of Ratt and collectors of rock music, the Ratt Atlantic Years box sets offer a unique opportunity to relive the past and own a comprehensive collection of the band’s discography. The vinyl set, in particular, provides a more immersive experience with its added extras, including the tour book, poster, and backstage pass. The booklet featuring unseen photos from the band’s personal archives adds depth and nostalgia to the overall package.
The Ratt Atlantic Years box sets serve as memory boxes, capturing a specific period in rock music history. While some may criticize such releases as cash grabs, these sets offer a chance for fans and collectors to own a piece of their favorite band’s legacy. The vinyl set, with its meticulous attention to detail and added extras, stands out as a remarkable offering. However, both the CD and vinyl sets provide an opportunity to immerse oneself in the timeless sound and energy of Ratt’s music.
In conclusion, the Ratt Atlantic Years box sets are a must-have for fans and collectors alike. Whether you opt for the CD set or the vinyl set, these collections offer an engaging journey through Ratt’s iconic music and the spirit of the 1980s and 1990s rock scene. So, crank up the volume, let the music transport you, and enjoy the nostalgia that these box sets evoke.
Phil Aston / Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine