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It is kind of admirable that a band such as Ratt would come out with a new record in 2010.  Most of their peers are merely content playing county fairs, clubs, and the annual Rocklahoma festival—and most of the time, half of the original members aren’t present.  And when those bands do release something, it usually involves rerecording their old hits (in fact, one of Ratt’s contributions to The Wrestler soundtrack was a modern version of their biggest song “Round and Round”).

Yes, Ratt is back.  And in a big way.  Well, not really, but there’s a pretty big sound on their first release since their self-titled abortion from 1999.  Any fan of the so-called “hair metal” genre will find a lot to like on Infestation.  Classic sounding leads and huge choruses are aplenty.  Singer Stephen Pearcy sounds surprisingly strong after a long absence from the group—his studio voice has always far surpassed his rough-at-best live vocals.  The band in general seems tight; the overall sound of the album is crisp and modern but maintains a certain 80s vibe.

“Eat Me Up Alive” kicks things off and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think these guys were living their glory days again.  The dark tone of the song helps a lot.  Too many of the other songs, however, don’t follow suit.  The first (and presumably only) single, “Best of Me,” is catchy (and could maybe be picked up on modern rock radio) but sounds too much like a reject from a late-period Def Leppard CD.  And the lyrics are positively painful.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned the lyrics on this piece of work?  They’re pretty hard to stomach.  The perfectly acceptable rocker “A Little Too Much” is hampered down with shit like, “You say ‘let’s stop’ / I say ‘let’s go’ / You say ‘it’s hot’ / I say ‘it’s cold’.”  Yet it’s hard to decide whether these songs would be improved by stronger (read: smarter) lyrics, or if they’re better staying in Spinal Tap territory, “treading water in sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.”  If you’re paying attention, it can be cringe inducing to hear gems like, “She’s no angel / She’s back in black / No, she’s a devil / But I like that ass.” However, I’ll take it easy on them because, really, who goes into a Ratt album expecting thought provoking poetry?

A legitimate complaint is that the songs here sound a little too similar to set themselves apart.  And when there is a marked difference, the songs aren’t as strong as the others.  “Look Out Below” slows things down and becomes a bit of a chore to get through, as does the ballad(?) “Take Me Home.”  The songs that succeed are the ones that play a little bit with their verse/pre-chorus/chorus formula while maintaining their upbeat tempo, like “Last Call” and “Take a Big Bite.”  Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s better to just let the songs fly by so as not to bring attention to the words on display.

Nothing here is going to shock anyone.  The small section of the population that still follows the trials and tribulations of these guys probably already have the album and they probably love it.  But it’s not magically change anyone’s mind about them. They may not be reinventing the wheel, but at least they’re not just spinning their wheels.

out of 5 weasels.

Choice cuts: “Eat You Up Alive,” “Last Call,” “Take a Big Bite”

Click PLAY for a 30 second free MP3 of each track or the track name for lyrics (if available) in a new tab/window

  1. Eat Me Up Alive
  2. Best Of Me
  3. A Little Too Much
  4. Look Out Below
  5. Last Call
  6. Lost Weekend
  7. As Good As It Gets
  8. Garden Of Eden
  9. Take A Big Bite
  10. Take Me Home
  11. Don’t Let Go

Visit Ratt online:

“2010 To Be The Year of The Ratt Again, Round and Round?”

“Round and Round” (live ‘84)

Never trust a prairie dog. Support the artist and find out for yourself. encourages purchasing Infestation locally at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.

Category : Turncoat Turntable | | Date : April 28, 2010

When news leaked that Slash would be doing an album with different singers, Santana-style, I groaned.  Of course he’s putting out a collection with various artists.  The last Velvet Revolver album tanked (and was pretty “stinky,” to quote Duff McKagan) and Slash needed to stay in the limelight somehow.  Why not cash in on celebrity and release a half-assed record with singers of varying degrees of talent and respectability?  Some of Slash is good—some of Slash, not so much.

A few of these songs rock and bring out the best in the vocalists.  The album starts off promisingly with Ian Astbury [The Cult] and some tasty riffs in “Ghost.”  It sounds like “The Cult featuring Slash” but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Former GN’R member Izzy Stradlin also lends some of his incomparable rhythm guitar to it—never a bad thing.  “Crucify the Dead” features Ozzy Osbourne on lead vocals, and while Ozzy’s voice isn’t what it used to be, he could stand to have some new music sounding more like this and less like his last few records.

Things do get rough when questionable singers come into focus.  I really want to give the track with Fergie [Black Eyed Peas] a chance, but it’s not easy.  Slash was never the best songwriter in GN’R (Izzy, Duff, and, yes, Axl Rose are far more skilled) and the cracks shine through—Fergie can sing, but the song just isn’t there.  Far worse, however, is the abomination of a ballad “Gotten” featuring Adam Levine [Maroon 5].  Again, I want to like it, but I can’t get past his voice.  Maybe hearing “She Will be Loved” in shopping malls over the years has pushed me too far.  Despite the pretty sound, the result is not pretty.

Miles Kennedy [Alter Bridge] is the only singer featured on two tracks here.  The songs aren’t my cup of tea, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear “Back from Cali” or the cheesetastic “Starlight” all summer long.  Don’t doubt for a second that the thought of getting a major radio hit didn’t come into play here.  That’s all well and good, but it seems a little easy and more than a little cheap.

Luckily there are some rock and roll heroes to stir the pot, too.  Lemmy Kilmeister [Motorhead] shares his whiskey-and-speed-soaked voice to “Doctor Alibi,” resulting in a rocker that would fit in perfectly among mid-tier Motorhead songs (better than most other songs).  Iggy Pop crawls into focus for “We’re All Gonna Die,” a tune that seems like everyone involved is having a good time.  In typical Iggy fashion, he barks out, “We’re all gonna die / So let’s get high / We’re all gonna die / So let’s be nice / I’m in the mood / So let’s intrude / Pee on the ground / And jump around.”

Of course, this is Slash’s album and it’s expected that Slash should be on front and center.  No track better displays his skills than the instrumental, “Watch This,” with Duff and Dave Grohl [Them Crooked Vultures].  There’s a sleazy groove going on and Slash really takes advantage of it, soloing like the old days.  This begs the question: why hasn’t Slash done an entire instrumental album?  Slash’s various groups over the years have released fairly spotty records, but the playing and raw talent has never come into question.  The man can wail.

The Zeppelin-fused “By the Sword” with Andrew Stockdale [Wolfmother] is a pleasant surprise.  Slash might do well to try something more in this direction.  At the very least it would be interesting.  The same can’t be said for the collaboration with Chris Cornell [Soundgarden].  It’s a shame that Cornell sounds so tired (bored?) on “Promise.”  The song isn’t bad, and the backing vocals are nice, but the track is a bit of a letdown, considering the potential of bringing together a vocal giant like Cornell together with a guitar legend like Slash.

The remaining tracks vary from “pretty good” to forgettable.  I don’t mind Kid Rock (here in full “Rock and Roll Jesus”-mode) at times, but “I Hold On” is mostly an amusing timewaster.  “Nothing to Say” with M. Shadows [Avenged Sevenfold] actually gets Slash shredding and is better than expected, but it’s nothing to write home about.

There are several different editions of the album available depending on location.  One of the best tracks, “Baby Can’t Drive,” with Alice Cooper and Nicole Sherezinger, is curiously only available on Brazilian edition.  The Nick Oliveri [former Queens of the Stone Age] track “Chains and Shackles” can only be found in Australia.  Stay far, far away from Fergie and Cypress Hill’s rendition of “Paradise City.”  Yikes.

Is Slash a success?  That depends what you’re looking for.  Do you prefer pop star divas or gravely voiced rockers?  It seems Slash wants both.  This isn’t a start-to-finish classic—it’s got its ups and its downs—just like Slash.

out of 5 weasels.

Choice cuts: “Watch This,” “Baby Can’t Drive,” “Doctor Alibi”

Click the track name for lyrics in a new tab/window and listen to the entire album, for FREE here.

  1. Ghost (Ian Astbury)
  2. Crucify the Dead (Ozzy Osbourne)
  3. Beautiful Dangerous (Fergie)
  4. Back From Cali (Myles Kennedy)
  5. Promise (Chris Cornell)
  6. By the Sword (Andrew Stockdale)
  7. Gotten (Adam Levine)
  8. Doctor Alibi (Lemmy Kilmeister)
  9. Watch This (Dave Grohl/Duff McKagan  (FREE MP3 below)
  10. I Hold On (Kid Rock)
  11. Nothing to Say (M Shadows)
  12. Starlight (Myles Kennedy)
  13. Saint is a Sinner Too (Rocco DeLuca)
  14. We’re All Gonna Die (Iggy Pop)

Bonus Tracks

Baby Can’t Drive (Alice Cooper/Nicole Sherezinger)
Chains and Shackles (Nick Oliveri)
Mother Maria (Beth Hart)
Sahara (Koshi Inaba)
Paradise City (Fergie/Cypress Hill)

“By The Sword” live on Craig Ferguson
Interview: Slash talks new solo album

Never trust a prairie dog. Support the artist and find out for yourself. encourages purchasing Slash at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.

Category : Turncoat Turntable | | Date : April 11, 2010