It’s no secret that I love Ratt. Their debut LP, 1984s Out of the Cellar, is probably the first album that I consumed regularly as an entire album, as opposed to only playing the one or two songs that I liked the most, and by the time I hit 8th grade I probably knew the words to every single song on it. I have their two follow-ups, Invasion of Your Privacy and Dancing Undercover, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally got a copy of their 1983 self-titled EP, Ratt.
This six-song not-quite-an-EP-but-not-quite-an-ablum has five originals and a version of the oft-covered “Walkin’ the Dog”. One track, “Back for More”, actually appears later on Out of the Cellar, while the rest remain pretty obscure. Right out of the gate with “Sweet Cheater” I’m struck by the fact that this feels more like legitimate early 1980s metal than does Ratt’s more popular stuff from just a year later; those drums are heavier and harder than anything on Out of the Cellar by a long-shot. “You Think You’re Tough” slows things down a bit and more to that sleaze style that later came to define Ratt’s sound, all dirty guitars and raspy vocals. “U Got It” (♠) sort of blends both styles, with the guitar solo giving things more of a metal feel by the rhythm and vocals pushing in a more glam direction, and the same is true of “Tell the World”. I feel like the version of “Back for More” on Ratt has a longer acoustic intro than the later version, but honestly I was a bit too lazy to actually do a comparison. “Walkin’ the Dog” is about what you’d expect – a Ratt-ized version of the classic.
I wrote before that one of the interesting things to me about Ratt is that the band’s first three albums are basically the same record – it’s like they got stuck in a time warp and spent their time trying to replicate “Round and Round”. Ratt is similar to those later albums, though still a bit more metal, which makes me wonder how they would have sounded if they’d moved in a more thrash or even NWOBHM direction. I think they had the chops to pull it off, but we’ll never know.
(♠) Can we all just agree that using “U” for “You” in song titles just has to stop? You can do whatever you want when you’re texting or something, but enough already with U. Using “N’ ” in the place of “NG” at the end of words because that’s how they sometimes sound when you say them. But “U” and “You” are the same damn thing.