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Ratt: Out Of The Cellar - Album Of The Week Club review

Ratt's Out Of The Cellar was a tidy serving of arena-baiting pop metal, often to be found soundtracking the heart of a Saturday night

Ratt - Out Of The Cellar cover art
(Image: © Atlantic Records)
Ratt - Out Of The Cellar

Ratt - Out Of The Cellar cover art

(Image credit: Atlantic Records)

Wanted Man
You're in Trouble
Round and Round
In Your Direction
She Wants Money
Lack of Communication
Back for More
The Morning After
I'm Insane
Scene of the Crime

Ratt revolved around big-mouth singer Stephen Pearcy, even bigger-mouthed drummer Bobby ‘The Blotz’ Blotzer and the sunny and dumb guitarist Robbin Crosby. They took their cue from Aerosmith and Cheap Trick rather than from contemporaries like Motley Crue, but Ratt were neither as smart nor cool. 

What they were tremendously good at was having a good time, and this record sums up their appeal: its best song, Round And Round, is ineffably stupid but impossible to forget. The cover, meanwhile, was "of its time", and featured the late Tawny Kitaen (then Crosby’s girlfriend and later David Coverdale’s wife) escaping said cellar in her scanties.

Like with much hair metal, it's easy to mock Ratt no matter how much affection you have for the source material, but Out Of The Cellar is still a pretty tidy serving of arena-baiting pop metal. It's puffed up and confident, with Van Halen guitar squeals and big choruses.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in March 1984

  • This Is Spinal Tap - Spinal Tap
  • Rising Force - Yngwie Malmsteen
  • Psalm 9 - Trouble
  • Fugazi - Marillion
  • Alchemy Live - Dire Straits
  • About Face - David Gilmour
  • Love at First Sting - Scorpions
  • Heartbeat City - The Cars
  • Three of a Perfect Pair - King Crimson
  • All Those Wasted Years - Hanoi Rocks
  • Burning the Witches - Warlock
  • Deià...Vu - Kevin Ayers
  • Great White - Great White
  • My War - Black Flag
  • N.E.W.S. - Golden Earring

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What they said...

"Out Of The Cellar was a consistently entertaining listen from start to finish, thanks to strong album tracks like Wanted Man, Back For More, and the frenetic I'm Insane, and also spawned a massive MTV and radio smash with Round And Round. After all, a single gigantic hit is all a band needs, and Round And Round was an absolute monster. (AllMusic)

"What comes up first and foremost are the amazing melodies, Ratt‘s ability to let the songs breathe due to Stephen Pearcy‘s slower and well paced vocal delivery, and some truly kick ass and memorable guitar solos from Warren DeMartini. Ratt were one of the first bands to incorporate tons of melodies and catchiness without compromising on the heavier aspects of a hard rock / heavy metal band." (SleazeRoxx)

"With the release of Out of the Cellar, Ratt seemingly had checked all the boxes. Unharnessed swagger – check. Immaculately coiffed doos – check. Armadillos nestled snugly – check. Eye-catching videos featuring an array of noteworthy cameos – check. The obligatory scantily-clad “hot chick” gracing the album cover – check. But most of all, Out of the Cellar oozed amazing songs – songs brimming with heart-stopping cock rock riffs, irresistible sing-along melodies, and fist-pumping anthemic lyrics – check, check and, check. (V13)

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What you said...

Mark Veitch: A pretty average album from a very average band. Ratt were always a case of diminishing returns throughout their career, both commercially and artistically. From the high of Round And Round to bringing in Desmond Child at the end of the decade to try and halt the slide. This album has a couple of decent songs, but it's all one-paced to no variation, with Pearcy’s monotone vocals making every song sound similar. They may have been influenced by Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, but get nowhere near these bands in terms of quality.

Chris Downie: It's almost incredible to think that when Ratt toured with Bon Jovi in the mid-80s, it was the former who took the headline spot, with Jon and co. content to play second fiddle, just prior to their worldwide smash hit album Slippery When Wet. Yet it is a timely reminder that Ratt, along with Motley Crue and Twisted Sister, were leading lights in the US hair metal scene that followed soon after Van Halen's emergence.

On the face of it, there was nothing groundbreaking that set them apart and criticisms of vocalist Stephen Pearcy's limited range were both aplenty and with merit, but they had heart and across the scope of their 1983 debut EP and first two LP's, their place in the scene was merited. As their first full-length, Out Of The Cellar set their stall nicely, refining the raw power of the EP whilst retaining an edge to it that stands up better today than many of their poodle permed peers, not least in hits such as Round And Round.

If there is one criticism that can be levelled at them, it is that they never truly kicked on from here, largely due to said limitations and despite the obvious talent of lead guitarist Warren Demartini. The follow-up Invasion Of Your Privacy was a good match, but later albums such as Reach For The Sky and especially Detonator became increasingly bogged down by 80s cliche and decadence, ensuring they would forever be associated with the scene that ultimately fell to grunge. Whilst Motley Crue arrested their mid-80s slump with the triumphant return to form of Dr. Feelgood, Ratt continued to falter and eventually imploded, only sporadically returning in the late 90s and for the decent Infestation in 2010, but would never again come close to past glories. This however, is a timely reminder of what they one had. 8/10.

Brian Carr: As I’ve gotten older, the 70s have become my personal favourite decade for music, but the 80s were the most important. That was the decade where I shifted from getting all of my music from my family to discovering it on my own, mostly from magazines and MTV. By far my favourite musical genre from the decade is 80s hard rock. To me, it had melody, cool riffs and excellent guitar playing. And, to be fair, I was too young to notice the music’s shortcomings.

Ratt was easily in my top five favourite bands of the decade. The video for Round And Round was all over MTV, the video channel also aired a Ratt concert around the same time, and I was hooked. Then came videos for Wanted Man and Back For More, songs I liked even more than their breakthrough and best-known track. We bought Out Of The Cellar on vinyl, and I still have it almost four decades later.

So how does it hold up after all this time? I still love it. Every song. Is it a meaningful, important album in the history of rock and roll? Probably not. But it’s a 10/10 for me and always will be.

Mark Whitby: I have this one on vinyl and always have a fun time giving it a spin. It's very much of its time and is packed full of catchy songs, great riffs and fine musianship. I've never had a problem with the vocal style but the guitar work is the real stand out. Great 80s cover as well, Tawny RIP.

Mike Canoe: I unapologetically love Ratt's Out Of The Cellar. It came out when I was in my mid-teens, so it was the right album at the right time for me.

Aerosmith was yet to have their '80s makeover and the lead guitarist slot in Kiss was now a revolving door. Even the mighty Van Halen, arguably still the band most likely to have their logo scrawled on your notebook, seemed long in the tooth, lost in their own gargantuan success. Bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, and Dokken were for my friends and me, not older brothers or (God forbid) parents.

Out Of The Cellar is a great example of Sunset Strip metal before all the sharp edges got filed down. Short, neck snapping songs packed full of riffs, attitude, and propulsive rhythm. No power ballads, no keyboards.

I realise one listener's deep cut is someone else's filler, but the album's charms extend well beyond nostalgia for hits like Round And Round and Wanted Man. The closing one two punch of the frenetic bopper I'm Insane followed by the chorus and coda-heavy Scene Of The Crime is fantastic. Lack Of Communication is an angry snarler and Back For More is a snarling come-on. Even the seemingly obligatory song about a prostitute, She Wants Money, absolutely rocks.

In his excellent memoir, Fargo Rock City, author Chuck Klosterman writes that "hair metal was a wormhole for every midwestern kid who was too naïve to understand why he wasn't happy."

I can testify that this wormhole was there for this teen growing up in the Bible-thumping suburbs of North Texas. I was miles - and lifetimes - away from living the lyrics to songs like The Morning After or In Your Direction, but being able to live them vicariously through Ratt made it worth getting up for school in the morning.

Roland Bearne: When I first started buying records in the nether regions of the 80's I only knew that I wanted Zeppelin, Rush, AC/DC, Motorhead and Van Halen. Then a guy passed me a copy of a new and wondrous magazine called Kerrang!, and my holiday job money went all to hell!! One of the first records in this new investigation was Out Of The Cellar. I read about Ratt and unlike Motley Crue, who just seemed bloody scary, these guys seemed cool. They were cool, they looked and sounded cool. So, I can't really be terribly objective about this record (or Invasion) as they're under my skin for good, like a tattoo you got years ago and think, yep, that's still a keeper. Puts me in a smiley place, great riffs, great solos Mr De Martini and I've always loved Pearcey's voice, unlike the screamers and the shouters, his mild tones work perfectly with the crunching riffage to my ears. No in depth analysis, possible! As many have suggested this week, maybe you sort of had to be there. I was and I loves it!

Andrew Bramah: Like most of the bands of that era Ratt had a limited shelf life and fell into the habit of rehashing previous work. Great album as was the follow up but people moved on quickly.

Andrew Cumming: Got to admit my heart sank a bit when I saw this one come up. Detonator is the Ratt album I always come back to. Just think the songs are great fun. If you've not tried it, wait until it's a sunny day and then put it on in the car. I'll bet you'll be singing along in no time. Anyway, back to Out Of The Cellar, so I've done my duty and given it a listen and... and it's not nearly as bad as I was fearing! The sounds are what you would expect - cavernous drums, 80s production etc. And Pearcy's voice is not a thing to love really. But overall I thought it wasn't bad. It's just the songs are a bit sub-standard. Round And Round is the obvious exception, but I didn't find too many other stand outs. And for me that's what made Motley Crue a more sustainable act - the songs are generally pretty good. Whereas Ratt has the looks, has the sound, but just not always the songs. Good but not great for me.

Adam Ranger: An OK 80s Metal album. Each track is OK on its own. My main criticism is that there is very little change or variety between one song and another. (I know many bands have their sound and you could argue this about ACDC). So the album seems very much of its time. A distinctive vocal sound, reminiscent of Alice Cooper, or how Cooper would develop in the mid to late 80's. So maybe Cooper listened to Ratt?

Dave Ferris: In 1984, I had been diving into anything with heavy drums and distorted guitar and everything that was mentioned within the pages of Hit Parader and Circus magazine. I remember going through Hit Parader and checking out on articles about upcoming new bands. Ratt had a featured article as one of those bands. I also remember that Ludwig drums had an ad titled "Ludwig Delivers" where their roster of drummers were pictured on a flatbed trailer. There was drummer Bobby Blotzer pictured from the band Ratt. 

From those two sources, I remember seeing the name of a band and thinking that the name seemed short but kinda cool. So, when the Out Of The Cellar album was released, I was excited to check it out. Ah, to be young and have disposable income. I can't remember if I heard the album first or seeing the video for Round And Round on Friday Night Videos. MTV wasn't in everyone's home yet. 

I bought an LP copy of the album and I probably put this album on everyday after getting home from school. I would listen to this album from start to finish for months. They would become one of my favourite bands of the year and that era. I remember one night listening to Back For More as a fellow drummer friend "air-drummed" the cymbal part on the off-beat instead of the standard eighth note rhythm on the ride cymbal. This turned my head and I began trying that rhythm in my own beginner playing. For years, I would defend Ratt as a great band as their popularity would wane later in the 80s. This album will always be a favourite from the year of 1984.

Mark Fletcher: I remember me and my mates having a competition as to who would make it, Ratt or Bon Jovi. We always compared them, I voted for Bon Jovi as I thought they were very much a more varied band music-wise. I was in the minority but won (let’s face it..!). However, I did like Ratt, I just thought they where a one-trick pony. However, re-listening to it now, I do miss that sound. Funny how I dismissed it at the time, it still sounds great all these years later. I think I preferred Invasion, but still think Jovi were the better band.

Elad Winberg: A masterpiece from start to finish! In fact, both this album and Invasion Of Your Privacy always seemed to me as proper heavy metal albums rather than some generic hair metal, and Ratt always stood out due to the distinctive twin guitar sound of Robbin Crosby and Warren DeMartini.

Uli Hassinger: In the middle of the 80s I was a Motorhead, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Metallica, Slayer maniac. The appearance of the hair metal bands was just ridiculous in my eyes. Nevertheless you couldn't avoid their albums in general, because despite of their embarrassing outfits and make-up there were some strong albums from WASP, Twisted Sister, Crue etc. In 1987 i saw Ratt live at Monsters of Rock and about that time I bought the album Invasion Of Your Privacy. Not a bad album either, but it didn't convince me that much that I wanted to explore more of them.

Listening to their debut album I must say that it's slightly better than Invasion. No bad song on it from start to finish, but most of the songs are very similar. The two real good songs are the opener Wanted Man and the last song Scene Of The Crime.

Like others have already mentioned, the singer is worth discussing. On the one hand his voice is very special and unique. On the other hand he has no variation in his voice and his range is very limited.

It's kind of easy listening. Neither a milestone for rock history nor a waste of time listening to. 7/10.

Bill Griffin: I never really liked Pearcy's vocals and Round And Round has the distinction of being the only song I like and dislike at the same time. It's a pretty good album but She Wants Money is an awesome track and elevates the album into one worth owning.

Wade Babineau: Recently revisited this one. Still sounds as deadly as when I got it the first day it came out. Any band that could get Milton Berle to agree to be in a music vid with them has to have some pull. Round And Round was the hit, but I loved the deeper cuts like Wanted Man and I'm Insane.

Douglas Mackenzie: Listening to them now, I really think they were nothing special, and many of their contemporaries who achieved way less success were in fact better. I guess you had to have been there at the time.

Terje Rognli: Ratt were my favourite hair metal band. They didn't jump the train until their Detonator album, when the fun and flavour truly went missing. Invasion Of Your Privacy is my favourite Ratt album, but it was also my first Ratt album.

I spent hours and hours with this album, too. Out Of The Cellar was a truly special album at the time.

After years spent listening to Kiss exclusively (all other music was shit, only Kiss made good music,) Ratt was my gateway into 80s hair metal. Loved their chunky guitars and rowdy appearance. These guys surely could get all the dirty girls they wanted, unlike me. So they became idols. I've since upgraded on my criteria for idolising bands and people,

A little dated now of course, but at the time this album really got my feet bouncing and blood rushing. An easy 8 out of 10 album back then. Invasion... was a solid 10. But it's almost always the first album I listen to, that I like the most.

Not sure I can stand to listen to the whole album nowadays, 'cause I've like evolved and stuff, but then? 8/10.

John Davidson: It is what it is. Each song individually is decent enough. Squeely guitars, light riffs, singable choruses. But there is very little variety (track to track) within the album - they're all mid paced melodic rockers, like Thin Lizzy but without the charm, or Bon Jovi without the shit-eating grin. The end result is radio- and MTV-friendly rock songs that tick a box for four or five minutes, but there's nothing to make me want to stay the course for a whole album.

Nigel Taylor: Throwaway hair metal with terrible whiny vocals. Never got the lure of Ratt at all and still don't.

Greg Schwepe: Classic 80s MTV-friendly metal from So Cal. And for me, another one of those groups where I liked everything I heard from them on the radio or saw on MTV, but never felt the urge to actually purchase any of their music at the time. So maybe made an impression on me, but not enough of an impression to dole out money for the vinyl!

Air guitar friendly riffs? Yep… got’em! Sing along choruses? Yep… got them too. Enough of a vibe to be a step above other bands of their ilk? Yep… got that too. Between Stephen Pearcy’s vocals and the guitars of Crosby and DeMartini you had something that seemed to stand out (slightly) among the other bands of that era, in my opinion.

Round And Round may be the one Ratt song everyone knows, but this debut is chockfull of other memorable tunes. Wanted Man kicks off this 37-minute album and it doesn’t let down from there. Favourites of mine are also Lack Of Communication and Back For More.

Great intro for the band that led to subsequent releases with airplay as well. Crank this one from the open roof of your 80s Pontiac Fiero! It’s not rocket science and we’re not saving the rainforest or anything with the lyrics, but give it 8 out of 10.

Tyler Mitchell: I go back to Ratt albums more than any of their contemporaries. Unique sound, great riffs, awesome songs from that era!

Richard Cardenas: Interesting discussion about this band here. Never one of my favourites – no hair band is – but a band that has catchy tunes. 

I actually own this on vinyl but rarely give it a spin. I will say this, this was a great live band. I saw them open for the likes of the Scorpions, AC/DC and other great bands and they always held their own with outstanding performances. I’ll always respect that.

Alex Hayes: Out Of The Cellar, the 1984 full length debut from Ratt, definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea. To reiterate an earlier comment, I guess you had to be there at the time. Luckily, for the purposes of submitting a review this week, I was. Well, after a fashion anyway.

I must have been a really good boy during 1988. For Christmas of that year, Santa brought me all four Ratt albums available at that time. To be honest, I can't remember what it was that specifically made me ask him for them, although I'm sure it will have been something along the lines of reading a Kerrang! article on the band. I was 14, and almost like a sponge when it came to checking out new music. On second thoughts, I doubt I'd been particularly angelic that year. It doesn't sound like me that.

Anyway, I really enjoyed those albums, and have a residual affection for the band that continues to the present day. I actually consider Ratt to be a far better band than their nearest contemporary, Motley Crue. I always thought they wrote better riffs and rated them as superior musicians overall. Stephen Pearcy's distinctive but average vocals possibly being the sole exception there.

Ratt also boasted a genuine 80s axe hero in Warren DeMartini, a terrific player. I never got to see Ratt live, but did manage to see DeMartini as a touring musician with Whitesnake in 1994. Hmm, DeMartini and Adrian Vandenberg in the same band. Shame nothing long term came out of that.

So then, to Out Of The Cellar. It was never actually my favourite, that honour went to Invasion Of Your Privacy. There's several Ratt standards to enjoy here though, such as Wanted Man, Round And Round, Back For More (with its engaging acoustic intro) and Lack Of Communication. Listening to the album earlier today, and The Morning After stood out as a personal favourite too. All good tracks, assuming you were there at the time of course

Ratt's career trajectory sadly stalled after a few years though, for several reasons. There was a lack of musical development from the band for a start. Those aforementioned first four Ratt albums were produced by the same guy, Beau Hill. He did a good job on them, Out Of The Cellar sounds great for an early hair metal album, but he was also a bit of a record company 'yes-man' determined to get Ratt's albums done as quickly and cheaply as possible. By 1988's Reach For The Sky, still a pretty enjoyable ride, the Ratt formula had nevertheless gotten a little predictable.

Then, there were the 90s themselves. I don't need to elaborate further on that. The tragic death in 2002 of guitarist Robbin Crosby, considered the conscience of the band by other members, was the final straw. The band's post-millennium activities, with the notable exception of 2010's kicking Infestation album, have been a little farcical at times. The band seem to have spent more time in litigation than in the studio.

It would be stretching the truth enormously if I called Out Of The Cellar an all-time classic. In fact, if that statement were an elastic band then it would snap and give me a black eye. However, as an example of an early hair metal album, it's a pretty damn good time capsule.

The cover's a little bittersweet for me though. It's sad to see Tawny Kitaen looking so gorgeous on there, given her unfortunate passing last year. RIP.

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Final Score: 7.48 (228 votes cast, with a total score of 1707)

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