When Detonator was released, I had kinda gave up on Ratt. I didn’t jump the Grunge bandwagon, I just noticed that for the last two studio albums, their songs had lost meaning and there was nothing that stuck out. The first three albums are excellent, but Reach and this one are just kinda there.
I will say however that the production is beyond excellent. It’s by far their best sounding release to date, and the songs do sound like Ratt without a doubt, but it’s TOO polished….WAY too polished. The “punch” that Ratt ws well known for is gone, the groove is gone, basically everything Ratt stood for is gone on Detonator. Teaming Ratt with Desmond Child on the songwriting may not have been a bad idea really, but all in all, they do not mix too well. Desmond did great with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Kiss and many others from that generation, but this is a situation where too much of a good thing can be bad. I am not knocking Desmond, he is talented with his songwriting and collaberating, but not for Ratt.
Another thing that Ratt was well known for was the DiMartini/Crosby dual guitar attack. With Detonator, It’s mostly DiMartini…and there is something lacking. Crosby did play rhythm on the album, but according to sources (including Robbin himself) he didn’t have much to do with the arrangeing or writing at all. By the time Detonator was made, his relationship with the rest of the band (as well as the entire band with each other) were almost null. Therefore it really wasen’t much of a “team” effort.
There are a few songs that do shine. Lovin’ You’s a Dirty Job is probably the finest moment on the album. Hard Time is a good example of classic Ratt groove, without the punch due to over production…also, this being vocalist Stephen Pearcy’s rawest vocals..and one of his best. One Step Away is a fun pop song with an excellent arrangement…only trouble is the producers (or Child, or both) obvious attempt at convincing Pearcy to imitate Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose begins as a typical Ratt guitar riff and demonstrates the tightness between Warren and Robbin…however, DiMartini’s “overplaying” becomes irritating as well as the very cheezy, goofy lyrics that are evident. Top Secret is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album with a more hard edged simplistic, rawer riff resembling the Ratt EP from their early days. However, DiMartini’s solo on Top Secret sounds almost out of place, which makes me wonder how it would have sounded with Crosby taking the lead on that track. Top Secret shows a side of Ratt that quite possibly, had they taken that route for the next release, may have salvaged their career, and their relationships between them as well. Ironically, Crosby wanted to persue that route…go back to basics, like the EP which, with the metal scene taking a nose dive within the following year, would have been an excellent choice. But, management, genre, drugs and egos prevented them from doing so.
Overall, we have an album that is produced, engineered and arranged in excellent form, but the magic is gone. The “new” track on the Ratt n Roll complation, Nobody Rides For Free only justifies my perception furthur. It’s a real shame for such an excellent band like Ratt to go out on a note like this.
Detonator is a case of overindulgence and while there are a few shining moments in a near perfectly produced album, there is not “one” solo or one song that truly stands above the rest…I sure can’t say the same for the first three releases.