The Top Rock Albums of 2018

2018 was another year with some great releases and way too many to get through them all so I am sure I missed a number of great albums and if you look around the web, there will be tons of Top Album lists you can get a pretty good idea of what you should check out in case you missed any of these.

This list will be my favorite “Rock” albums of the year.  All other types of music will be for a later post.  I am going to leave this one to my favorite genre.  It is a broad genre, but these are the albums that I consider to be ROCK!!

Also note, these are MY FAVORITES!!  These are not the most popular or trendy albums.  These are the albums that I connected with during the year and I kept coming back to again and again.  And without further adieu, here are the Top Rock Albums of 2018:

My #1 Album of the Year:

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Reach – The Great Divine: A modern, yet melodic rock album that just grabs hold and won’t let go from beginning to end.  A band I had never heard of prior to this album and I am now wondering where they have been my whole life.  Just a fantastic album with no songs to skip or delete.  Almost pure perfection.  The first album I bought that was new in 2018 and still listen to it today.  With songs like “The Great Divine”, “Nightmare” and “Into Tomorrow” you can see they have the goods.  The production value was great, the music, the vocals, it was all solid and my favorite album of the year!!  Give it a try (and check out my original review by clicking the album title).

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Friday New Releases – November 9th

Wow!! The new releases are coming in droves. Another extensive list of releases this week just like last.  There has to be something for everyone as the artist here cover the gamut of genres.  There are a handful I am interested in streaming at least, not sure about buying…yet.  I will test the waters first.  Those are highlighted in Blue.  What do you see that you like?  Let me know and let me know what releases are missing from the list.  I hope you find something.  Have a great weekend!!

  • 71z5r6SxinL._SL1200_.jpg  Stephen Pearcy – View to a Thrill – (Frontiers Records):  The lead singer of Ratt (or some version of it) is back with another solo effort.  I am becoming very skeptical of this release with all the antics going on with him from the latest Ratt tour…not a pretty picture. The tracks I have heard so far are so, so…but after his last one was pretty decent, I will give this one a try.  We will see.

  • 51WFlCQ79xL._AC_US436_QL65_  Red Dragon Cartel – Patina – (Frontiers Record):  Jake E. Lee isback with Red Dragon Cartel’s 2nd album.  I get the impression this is a real band now and so the songs should be solid and consistent.  I am digging what I have heard and have higher expectations for this one over the last.  I can’t wait to crank this one up.

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Ratt – The Albums Ranked Worst to First

For most of 2018, I have been reviewing all the Ratt albums from the Ratt E.P. in 1983 all the way to 2010’s Infestation. It has been an enjoyable ride walking through the history of the band, all the ups and the downs, the good and the bad and loving every minute of it (wait that is Loverboy)…and loving watching the wax or cd spinning round and round (much better).

Ratt has been a love/hate relationship.  While I love most of what they do, they don’t always deliver the goods and I tried to be as honest as I could be throughout the review processes.  I believe I was brutal where I needed to be and kissed their ass when it deserved it as well.  I hear they band is planning a new album in 2019 and when it comes I will review it in detail like the others and I will update this list and put it where it belongs among the classics or the crap.

You can go back and read each review in detail by just clicking on the album title.  This ranking will be just a summary of the good and bad of each album.  I hope you enjoy.

THE WORSTRATT (1999):

The hardest review of them all to write. I couldn’t connect to this album when it came out or even now.  The production quality was horrible; Stephen’s vocals needed some cleanup and weren’t always up to par; the double guitar of Ratt of old was gone and so the songs were missing that punch; and overall it was just bad.

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Ratt – Ratt (1999) – Album Review

After the album ‘Collage’ in 1998, the band signed with a label again and this time it was Sony. In July of 1999, they released their self-titled album “Ratt” or 1999 since their debut E.P. was titled ‘Ratt’.  The album was very bluesy and not quite the Glam rock (with a blues edge) as they had done before which is a good thing as we are in 1999 and not 1989.

The band was down to three original members…Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Bobby Blotzer.  There is still no Robbin Crosby or Juan Croucier.  Replacing Juan on Bass is Robbie Crane making his first appearance with the band.  They didn’t replace Robbin which means only one guitar and that is a one of the negatives of the album.  The dual guitar sound was always a “Ratt” sound.

Out of all their albums, this is the one I am least familiar with.  I had lost interest with anything new from them and what I heard I didn’t like.  So, I had passed and have not ever owned this album and still don’t. I will pick it up if I ever catch it in the used section of a record store (is that giving away anything on my review???).

This has been a very hard post to write for me.  I have had to take a lot of time as I wanted to give the album a fair shake as I really love this band.  I needed to be inspired to write something about the album and although I am writing this post now, I still don’t know really what to say.  I will do my best though.

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Ratt – ‘Collage’ – Album Review

After the disappointing sales of their album ‘Detonator’, Ratt seemed to be falling apart.  Robbin Crosby would leave the band due to his substance abuse problem and the dominos would fall from there.  The band went on “hiatus” in 1992 and it felt like the band was done.  Well, the weren’t just year.

In 1997, reunion talks began with the five original members.  However, Robbin Crosby developed HIV due to his substance abuse problem and was in no shape to carry-on.  Juan Croucier would soon afterwards decide he didn’t want to re-join the band.  So that left Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Bobby Blotzer and they decided to continue as Ratt and the set out to go on tour.  Before they did that, the decision was made to release a compilation album of B-sides, alternate recordings and even re-work some old Mickey Ratt tunes.

I wasn’t planning on reviewing any compilation albums in my Ratt Review Series, but this one was different as it wasn’t a greatest hits collection.  Being that most of the songs haven’t been on any Ratt album, I decided it was worth getting a review of it’s own.  I will warn you, this is a collection of songs that is strictly for Ratt fans.

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Ratt – ‘Detonator’ – Album Review

The year is 1990 and we are getting to the end of the Hair Metal era, but at the time, no one knew that end was coming.  Ratt released their fifth album in August of 1990 and it brings us to the end the long running stream of Platinum albums.  It is also the last Ratt album with the line-up that has been on all 5 of their albums.

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robbin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass guitar
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

After the disappointing reception for ‘Reach for the Sky’ (although it did go Platinum), the band needed to make a change.  That change was not to use Beau Hill as producer on the next album as he had produced all previous albums to much success.  The band (or label) brought in powerhouse songwriter Desmond Child.  You know Desmond…he had great success writing with Kiss, Aerosmith and a few Bon Jovi classics.

And did he ever get involved in the songwriting as he has writing credits on 10 of the 11 tracks on the album.  Not only did Desmond assist with songwriting, he was also the executive producer along with Sir Arthur Payson.  While Ratt did maintain the classic Ratt sound which was a little bluesy and little sleazy, the songs were much more polished and contained more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.  It definitely leaned to a more Glam rock image than prior albums.

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Ratt – ‘Reach For the Sky’ – Album Review

We are now up to the fourth studio album by Ratt called ‘Reach for the Sky’.  The album was released on November 1, 1988 and as the predecessors, it also reached Platinum status. The only difference was that the critics really did not like this album.  It has been said this was the worst of their albums so far.  I personally disagree.

Yes, the album is a little hit or miss at times, but overall I think the album holds up over time and there are some really great songs on here.  But before we get to the songs, let’s talk about the band and what was going on with them at the time of making this album.

Ratt brought in Mike Stone to produce the album, but due to some sub-standard production work, longtime Ratt producer, Beau Hill, was brought back in to save the day and that is what he did.  This would be the last album the band would do with Beau.

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Ratt – ‘Dancing Undercover’ – Album Review

Next up in the Ratt album review series is their 3rd studio album, the 1986 album ‘Dancing Undercover’.  The entire band was still in tact and even producer Beau Hill returned for his third album.  The band still consisted of the following:

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

Even though it was the same crew, things were different.  The band decided that they didn’t need a beautiful woman on the cover and opted for pictures of the band members themselves.

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Ratt – Invasion Of Your Privacy – Album Review

On June 13, 1985, Ratt released their second full length album called ‘Invasion of Your Privacy’.  After the success of their debut ‘Out of the Cellar’, Ratt wasted no time in repeating that formula and delivering another solid album.  The line-up was unchanged.

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

The producer was still Beau Hill. The only thing different was the model on the front cover.  This time around it was Playboy model Marianne Gravatte.  Marianne was Playmate of the Year in 1983 where she was noticed by Stephen Pearcy (and everyone else).  Fun fact…the prior Playmate of the Year was none other than Gene Simmons’ wife, Shannon Tweed.  Marianne also appeared in the video for “Lay It Down” which we will get to later.

The album was not quite as successful as the debut, but it did peak at #7 on the Billboard charts which was the same place ‘Out of the Cellar’ peaked.  The album did go on to sell over 2 million copies.  The album also peaked the interest of the group Parents Music Resource Center which is the Tipper Gore group that looked to censor the music industry.  The group did end up getting Parental Advisory stickers placed on albums with foul language and that contained inappropriate material.

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Ratt – ‘Out of the Cellar’ – Album Review

After the success of their self-titled E.P., Ratt signed a record deal with Atlantic Records and that deal brought us the incredible debut album ‘Out of the Cellar’.  On March 27th, 1984, the album was released and thanks to MTV, the band became a huge sensation.

The band’s line-up was unchanged from the E.P, consisting of the following members:

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

With the incredible dual guitar combo of Crosby & DeMartini and the bluesy, raspiness of Pearcy’s vocals, the band had an arsenal of great songs that took them to the pinnacle of rock and selling millions and millions of records.  It also didn’t hurt that they looked the part which was crucial for the MTV world that was exploding on the scene at the time.

Take that and add a beautiful woman on the cover your album and there was denying this band.  Tawny Kitaen graced the cover of the debut album as she was the then girlfriend of Robin Crosby.  She also graced the cover of their E.P. but that was just her beautiful legs.  This time, you got the whole package.  For those that didn’t know, Tawny is the video vixen that was dancing on the pair of Jaguars in the Whitesnake videos in the late 80’s when she was dating David Coverdale.

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