Ratt and Metallica

Their third albums, Dancing Undercover and Master of Puppets (their 1986 albums), are comparable in terms of being favourably influenced by non-metal music. Dancing Undercover is also comparable to St. Anger in that it was the second and final album to have no ballads (their first albums have no ballads). Robbin Crosby once claimed that Ratt’s self-titled début EP was the real Ratt before they got too posh and polished (the irony being that it was produced by the same guy who wrote Walk like an Egyptian for The Bangles and the 21 Jump Street theme). I can imagine a Metallica fan saying that Kill `em All showcases the real Metallica before they got too progressive, poetic and passionate (Ratt’s singer described his vagrant lifestyle as consisting of paychecks, parties and pussies).

Ironically, Kill `em All is their lightest album because the quicker nature of the riffing meant that the guitars had a higher-than-usual tuning so that the music was coherent. It’s their cleanest-sounding record (ditto for Ratt’s powerfully pop Detonator). It’s the only album where you can fully appreciate Cliff Burton as a bassist. Rob’s role in Ratt was comparable to Cliff’s role in Metallica. Bobby Blotzer claimed that Rob was a genius who was the backbone of Ratt’s success. Stephen Pearcy claimed that Rob made Ratt retain their metal identity.

As for other comparisons, both rhythm guitarists wore shirts based on A Clockwork Orange. Both also had less flashy guitar solos. Elsewhere, James Hetfield and Rob were described with royal titles for a reason which wasn’t to do with music. Rob was nicknamed King because his height reflected his maturity, whereas Lonn Friend (a journalist) had described James as a kind soul with magnificent character who is a prince in a land of few gentlemen (James played with Lonn’s daughter during the making of the fifth album). Rob once claimed that dogs are better than humans whereas James believes that animals don’t betray their own kind like humans do.

Reach for the Sky was to Ratt what and Justice for All was to Metallica. Both albums, their fourth, started production with famous producers by the name of Mike, and were released in 1988 (their darkest year of debauchery). Ratt’s producer was Mike Stone, who produced Whitesnake’s blues metal `87 LP (a very big hit) whereas Metallica worked with Mike Clink, who produced G’N’R’s bluesy Appetite for Destruction (also `87). Both producers were more suited to the opposite band (Clink for clean-cut rock and Stone for hard-hitting rock).

Unfortunately for both bands, the two Mikes weren’t really what they anticipated, resulting in both bands returning to their tried-and-true producers who were seen as the answers to their problems. For Ratt, it was Beau Hill. For Metallica, it was Flemming Rasmussen. The situations were difficult enough that, when their former producers were hired, they underwent salvage missions. However, this did not stop the two bands from capitalizing on the commercial appeal of mentioning the bigger names who stepped out of the limelight. 

Ironically, both LPs would mark the final time that they would work with their time-tested producers. The amount of material that was written for these `88 offerings was at an all-time high as well. The artwork of both albums (whilst conceptually diametrical) were their most ambitiously reified. They feature epic portrayals of classical-styled female figures (with the lightest skin tones). Their stage shows were certainly larger than before with large recreations of the album covers in different forms. For Ratt, it was displayed on curtains. For Metallica, it was depicted as a statue – sort of like Spın̈al Tap.

Actually, both bands are the ultimate embodiment of Spın̈al Tap. With Metallica, their black album is comparable to the cover of the latter’s Smell the Glove. As for Ratt, they are the best example of a metal band who is more of a household name in Japan than they are in America. The fifth albums of Ratt and Metallica are comparable in that they are referred to as their sell-out albums. Both bands sold out in not just being more radio-friendly but in their choice of who was to produce. Ratt being produced by Desmond Child (Detonator) is comparable to Metallica being produced by Bob Rock (Metallica). It’s the Bon Jovi connection!

The making of The Unforgiven for A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica makes me wonder what Juan Croucier filmed in regards to the making of Givin’ Yourself Away. Warren DeMartini’s middle solo is just as soulful as Kirk’s solo. Givin’ Yourself Away is the most supreme example of a song having intro, bridge, versus, chorus and outro solos. In general, I would love to see what home movie footage that Juan has of Ratt (especially the making of the Detonator album). Metallica having a making-of documentary for a home video release is comparable to Ratt, whose video came out first but had considerably way less material although still comparable in that both albums resulted in music videos which were more expensive than what they had shot previously.

Both bands are so equally excellent that their first five albums are memorable from start to finish. Every song is a classic (not confusing the meaning of classic with legendary like other people do). People might detest how I attest Ratt to be a metal band that’s worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Metallica, but duly note that a lot of Ratt’s songs were written in minor key. Also, Ratt were self aware enough to not have songs with rock in the titles. They were also smart enough to not have album titles named after song titles.

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