CRUDE DUDE RECORD REVIEW #2
RATT - DETONATOR (1990)
Review By: TNUC
"We're gladiators -- pirate, hippie gladiators. Everyone wants to party with us and get wild" - Stephen Pearcy, RATT
Before getting into the real stuffed-crust pizza of this forgotten record, let's clear the air regarding the album artwork. One thing that didn't help these bands during the tail-end of the scene was some of the poor, weakened artwork that accompanied many of these records. The unappealing, dull-colored imagery could be good for other genres, but not for the Crude Dudes of the business. Compare for a moment Ratt's debut, 1984's Out of the Cellar. The album artwork features a seductive girl (Tawny Kitaen) climbing out of a lit-up, foggy cellar. Jump six years later to 1990. You're at the record store browsing around and in front of you is the artwork for Detonator -- a dull, barely legible, crappy drawing of a bombed out building. Is that supposed to jump off the shelves and into your face? With the stripped down looks and stylings that were diseasing modern man, these bands bought into the trends and subdued their image. But at least in Ratt's situation, the album made up for this. To quote Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer, "the Detonator album was poised to be our Dr. Feelgood."
The album begins with a bluesy, down-on-one-knee-guitar intro track courtesy of Warren DiMartini. This one could be humming in the background as your woman clenches on to you while you both stand out on your penthouse balcony in the balmy night summer air. You're in that brand new red + purple satin blazer you bought on Melrose just that afternoon. The sleeves are pushed up, shoulders are padded and you're feeling like a king. That feeling carries over and soon explodes into first single "Shame, Shame, Shame". The bigger and bolder production is immediately heard and grabs you by the balls. In the first couple of minutes the band clearly has become louder and more polished than ever before. "Shame"is a pissed off war-cry to an apparent babe or two that has been unfaithful to lead rodent/vocalist Stephen Pearcy.
...Here's Pearcy with possibly one of the alleged psycho-hose-beasts that sparked the lyrics to "Shame".
Play the video above for further evidence that the Ratt clan were going for an all-things-HUGE vibe on this record. The production value compared to previous records is immediately recognizable. This is largely due from the assistance and, shall I say, disciplinary review from legendary producer Desmond Child. This guy deserves an entire spotlight of his own on TNUC. His list of production credits is massive and while he's probably most known for resurrecting Aerosmith's career in the late eighties, he's also known for beating the living daylights out of musicians in the studio to get the perfect sound and take. Ratt wanted to take it to the edge on this record and give the changing music scene of 1991 a kick to the crotch. Child was hired late into the recording process of Detonator to help out with the writing.
Listening to highlights on the album such as "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose (feat. Jon Bon Jovi)", "One Step Away" and "Can't Wait on Love" will catapult your Crude Dude attitude to new levels that you hadn't planned on reaching. You'll be the talk of the town when you blast these numbers as you cruise down Sunset Blvd in your freshly waxed 4x4 pickup, wearing your oversized tank-top and 4" above-the-knee British flag shorts (see Anthony Keidis in Point Break). You'll pull over to stop for a mega-burger and to do some self-reflecting as the ballad "Givin Yourself Away" echoes on the stereo. You must have one of those long-butted-girl-magnets under the hood of your car because before you can slurp down the last drop of your 100% whey milkshake, the girls are demanding a spot in the bed of your truck as you continue the Detonator listening party ride.
Final track and personal TNUC favorite "Top Secret" wraps the album up with a bang and in my opinion, certifies Detonator as the quintessential album of the Crude Dude era. The band is firing on all levels and has never sounded so strong. The album was released in August of 1990. It wasn't received well and opinions of the band at the time were clearly misunderstood. But in a time of oppression from radio and record companies, Ratt should be idolized for pushing themselves and delivering their most solid effort to date. This massively underrated and forgotten chunk of the Crude Dude era will echo on forever and be introduced in TNUC lectures to next-generation young Crudes who seek to embrace the lifestyle.
Buy Detonator here