As I write this in February 2017, those hard rockin’ sleazesters in Ratt have been in the news for all of the wrong reasons of late; mostly for their battles with former drummer Bobby Blotzer over continued ownership of the band name. It’s ridiculous and sad, mostly coming from Blotzer’s end. That’s as far as I need to go with that, because Ratt’s true vocalist, Stephen Pearcy, has forged ahead despite the insanity and carved himself a nice solo career alongside his bigger band. SMASH, released this January, is the man’s 10th solo release (incl. live albums etc.) so he’s more than earned the right to be judged on his own musical merits.
And yet. At times SMASH is like a walk into 1984 when Ratt were riding at their peak. If there’s one thing Pearcy and writing partner/guitarist Erik Ferentinos know, it’s sleaze rock and SMASH serves it up strong. “Ten Miles Wide” is an obvious nod to Pearcy’s band with it’s Warren DeMartini guitar lines and catchy melodies, while “Jamie” is a nice little popster that could easily have filled out REACH FOR THE SKY. Pearcy isn’t content to just rest on his laurels and re-hash his past. SMASH is full of songs that would never fit on a Ratt (or Arcade, Vertex etc.) record but are still kick-ass hard rock songs. Cuts like prancing pop-rocker “Lollipop” and street-filthy rocker “Dead Roses” show the breadth of the band’s ability, while the lone ballad, “Summer’s End”, is thankfully not a rote love song. Through it all, Pearcy’s distinctive caw leads the charge, sounding no more ragged than it did when “Round & Round” was new.
With all the press about a Ratt reunion there’s a danger that SMASH will be overlooked – that’s a huge shame because it is a fantastic rock record that stands proud all on its own.
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