Ratt's Album "Infestation" and the Aftermath for the Band
The Ratt Pack returned with a Vengeance in 2010!
More than five years after it was first released, Ratt’s 2010 album Infestation still ranks as one of the most pleasant surprises I've had in a VERY long time. I must confess that when news of this project was first announced in 2009, I didn't have very high hopes for it at all. I had been a fan of the first several records by these infamous L.A. rodents during my high school days, particularly 1983's debut EP and their 1984 breakthrough album Out of the Cellar, but it had become pretty obvious that the band was phoning it in by the time 1988’s disappointing Reach For the Sky album came around. My hard-rock tastes had also moved towards heavier fare by that time anyway, so over the next decade or so I watched from a distance while Ratt went through the inevitable cycle of breakup and eventual reunion, mourned the tragic 2002 heroin-related death of founding guitarist Robbin Crosby (R.I.P.), and had a falling out with vocalist Stephen Pearcy that led to his being replaced by journeyman Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate, L.A. Guns) for a number of years. However, it seems that time (and, apparently, lack of record company interest) really does heal all wounds, because eventually Ratt patched up their differences with Pearcy and announced that they were starting work on their first studio album since 1999 for their new label Loud & Proud, a division of Roadrunner Records.
Ratt - "Best of Me" from INFESTATION
When the first previews of Infestation hit the Net a few weeks prior to the album's release, fan reaction was absolutely ecstatic. Even though my interest in Ratt had been near zero up to this point, the raves sounded too good to ignore... so I gave a couple of the new tracks a curious listen on the band’s web site and unexpectedly heard myself saying, “Wow. This is GOOD.” Thus, I ended up buying a copy of the CD (my first new Ratt release in over 20 years!) as soon as it became available and it pretty much ruled my CD player for several weeks afterwards. Infestation is still a pretty damn solid collection of classic-style Ratt rockers, kicking off with the positively slammin’ “Eat Me Up Alive” (best song on the CD, bar none – this should’ve been the first single, not the middling “Best of Me”) and cruises through ten more tracks that sound fresher and rock harder than anything Ratt has released since Invasion Of Your Privacy way the hell back in ’85. Guitarist Carlos Cavazo (ex-Quiet Riot) filled the late Robbin Crosby’s shoes admirably, meshing nicely with longtime Ratt axeman Warren DeMartini to successfully re-create the band’s classc, trademark wall-o-shred sound. Pearcy’s voice, which I’m told had become something of a hit-or-miss proposition over the years, also aged better than I'd expected. He sounds a little less whiny than the old days (which is a good thing) and has added a bit more of a gritty snarl, but he’s lost none of his swagger. In short, the Ratts were in great musical shape from the first note of Infestation to the last. Standout tracks like “A Little Too Much,” “Last Call,” “Look Out Below” (strippers across America should've been gyrating up and down poles to this one!) and the killer “Lost Weekend” (which rides atop a rumbling riff straight out of Out of the Cellar’s “Lack of Communication”) are all killer slabs of vintage sleaze rock, bringing back fond memories of the band’s early records when they’d first perfected their blend of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen crunch and Aerosmith’s booze-soaked boogie. The album doesn’t stumble till the next to last track, the ballad “Take Me Home” – Ratt has never been much of a “ballad band” and this song shows why. Fortunately “Don’t Let Go” follows that misfire and finishes off the album on a high note. All in all, Infestation was a surprisingly awesome return to form by a band I’d written off decades earlier, and it showed that Ratt still had fire in their bellies and fuel left in their tank.
"Eat Me Up Alive"
Infestation performed impressively on the charts for a band that had been out of the loop for so many years, debuting at #30 on Billboard and reportedly racking up sales of 14,000 copies in its first week of release. However, it still didn't signal the full-time comeback that many longtime Ratt fans had hoped for. By the time the band had finished touring to support the album in late 2010, tensions between the members had apparently reared their ugly heads again, causing them to announce that they were going on "hiatus for a while," according to Stephen Pearcy.
In early 2014 Stephen Pearcy announced that he had left Ratt once again, this time for good. He cited the "constant turmoil" and "unresolved business" between band members as the reasons for his departure. Pearcy resumed touring as a solo artist and began preparing a new solo album entitled Smash, which has yet to see the light of day as of this writing. He has been quoted as saying that "the door is shut" for another reunion with Ratt, and that "there will probably never be another Ratt album."
Meanwhile, drummer Bobby Blotzer formed a new band in 2015 and toured using the name "The RATT Experience." This group celebrated the 30th anniversary of 1985's Invasion Of Your Privacy album by playing it in its entirety, as well as a selection of Ratt's other greatest hits.
NOW it gets weird....
In late 2015, Bobby Blotzer suddenly re-branded his "Ratt Experience" tribute band and began playing gigs with them using the actual Ratt name. This "new" Ratt - which includes vocalist Josh Alan, guitarists Doc Ellis and Nicholas "Blaze" Baum, and bassist Robbie Crane - also announced extensive dates for a so-called "Re-Invasion Tour" in 2016. This led to an immediate lawsuit from guitarist Warren DeMartini, who shares the copyright to the band's name with Blotzer and did not give him permission to use it for his new band. Blotzer maintains that if the original Ratt members no longer want to tour together, he has every right to "take control" of their legacy and keep the band's name and music alive. Time will tell if Blotzer's "new" Ratt ever gets off the ground or if the band's name will eventually become mired in legal limbo.
Just to confuse the issue even further, former bassist Juan Croucier has also recently been seen out on the road performing as a solo act, billing himself as "the other voice of Ratt," while vocalist Stephen Pearcy constantly plays solo gigs as well. So it could be entirely possible to see three different versions of Ratt playing in the same town on the same night!
It is a shame that the members of Ratt couldn't put their differences aside and jump at the chance to capitalize on the successful Infestation album, but the band's long-suffering fan base seemed content with the fact that at least they managed to get one more excellent CD out of this notoriously volatile and unpredictable group.
RATT Select Discography...
RATT (EP) - Time Coast, 1983/Atlantic, 1984
Out of the Cellar - Atlantic, 1984
Invasion Of Your Privacy - Atlantic, 1985
RATT: The Video (VHS) - Atlantic, 1985
Dancing Undercover - Atlantic, 1986
Reach For The Sky - Atlantic, 1988
Detonator - Atlantic, 1990
RATT N Roll 8191 - Atlantic, 1991
Collage - DeRock, 1997
RATT - Portrait, 1999
The Essentials - Atlantic, 2002
Tell the World: The Very Best of Ratt - Rhino, 2007
Infestation - Loud & Proud, 2010
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