I still remember the first time that I heard Ratt. I was over at my friend Scott’s house and his family was one of the few that had a VCR back in the day. During a wiffle ball game, we took a break and he said “Hey, I recorded a video from a band that I want you to see.” We all went up and when he hit play on that VCR my ears exploded with Ratt’s “Round and Round.” That day I went from a hard rock fan to a hard rock/metal junkie. That tune and that band were my definition of BAD ASS. A twin guitar attack that would rival any in the annals of Rock, with power and distortion that seared into my skin. They delivered a pounding rhythm section that sounded like a Sherman Tank rolling across the battlefield and a vocalist that fit that sound to perfection. With an alley cat screech that uttered “Out on The Street, that’s where we’ll meet” I was introduced to Stephen Pearcy and Ratt, the one band that I can honestly say blew me away.
Now, 33 years later, I sit down with Stephen Pearcy’s 4th solo album, “Smash,” and I instantly drift back to that summer day of my youth.
If you a fan of Ratt or, actually anything that Pearcy puts his mark on, you will be pleased with “Smash.” Pearcy is an artist that you know his voice no matter what and what is really cool about this album is the diversity of the material.
The album opens with a Nirvanaesque beginning with the first track “I Know I’m Crazy.” The song has a more modern rock feel, but the way that Pearcy delivers it with that growling rasp, just gives it the classic punch. This album shows the many sides of Pearcy and “Ten Miles Wide” plays on the Ratt meets Arcade style which I believe suits Pearcys style like stripes suit a tiger; menacing and formidable in its natural habitat. This tune is a pure rocker and is worth a volume spike.
Track 3, “Shut Down Baby” reminds me of the Aerosmith “Done With Mirrors” style with the slide guitar and that cool, classic rockin groove. “Dead Roses” follows with a touch more of the grittier, heavy style in the vein of the latter Arcade material. This album has the many styles of Pearcy and “Lollipop” once again has the Aerosmith style with a dirtier edge and the “Way Cool Jr.” guitar groove. Erik Ferentinos provides a nice DeMartini style solo that carries the overall flow of the tune.
“Smash” brings many hard hitting tracks to the table and to the half-way point has no intention of letting up with “Hit Me With A Bullet.” The track has the vintage Ratt meets Arcade groove with some very nice offbeat drumming by none other than Greg D’Angelo (White Lion). The band is packed with talent and drives some really solid licks to this offering and “Rain” is no exception. The song has the vintage Ratt “Reach For the Sky” meets “Detonator” feel with a very soothing piano part that plays the song out. Pearcy just has the knack for this style and it shows once again with “Want To Much.” This song I can definitely see the Ratt style breaking thru with the guitar and the ripping solo by Ferentinos.
Stepping out of the heavier guitar riffs and style and right into “What Do Ya Think,” a bluesy, clean guitar tone kicks in with a touch of slide. The song is a classic for sitting around the campfire and just kicking back. Like I mentioned earlier, Pearcy has brought a bit of diversity here and in kicks another spin back to the heavier Ratt/Arcade style with track 10 “Jamie” and track 11 “I Can’t Take it.” You can hear a slight touch of the modern in the latter, but “Jamie” is the picture of pure Pearcy perfection. That scratchy delivery just flows perfectly within this entire album.
13 Tracks is a very nice package of songs and believe me, you will definitely get your money’s worth. I am a fan of the heavier Pearcy as they fit his style better and there is no better example of a Killer rocker on this album than “Passion Infinity.” Just a flat out put your foot to the floor and don’t let off the gas for 3:40 kinda rocker. This tune is my favorite on the album and I can definitely see this blasting outta my speakers for at least a few years.
The album hits its final track and in kicks an excellent ballad “Summers End.” Some may say that Pearcy’s voice is not meant for ballad’s and I disagree. What the true essence of singing a ballad is the passion that is projected and Stephen has all of that and much more. The song is powerful and has a nice finishing kick to conclude what I call an excellent album, as expected.
I am very well satisfied with the portions that I’ve been fed with “Smash.” Just enough to keep me satisfied, but still hungry for more; may I have another listen, please?
All that I can say is that being a fan of Pearcy since 1984 is that “Smash” is just another notch in his proverbial belt of fine hard rock releases. This album is not overdone and does not try to be something that it is not. Like many of the artists trying to write for what the music scene dictates, Pearcy sticks to his guns and delivers a good rock n roll album that is just a treat to listen to. I like albums that I don’t have to skip thru to hear certain songs and I like diversity in the music. “Smash” has everything in the offering and then some. If you are a fan of Ratt/Arcade/Aersosmith then you will definitely enjoy this one. Horns raised high for Pearcy, bringing us “Back For More.”
“Smash” track listing:
- I Know I’m Crazy
02. Ten Miles Wide
04. Dead Roses
05. Shut Down Baby
06. Hit Me With A Bullet
07. Want Too Much
08. What Do Ya Think
11. Can’t Take It(album version)
12. Passion Infinity
13. Summer’s End
STEPHEN E. PEARCY – Lead Vocals, Back-up Vocals
ERIK FERENTINOS – Rhythm & Lead Guitars, Back-up vocals
GREG D’ ANGELO – Drums, Percussion
MATT THORN – Bass Guitar
CHRIS HAGER – Guitars, Lead Guitars on track (3)