Thanks to the my cable company offering a built-in DVR (digital video recorder) with their digital cable box, I was able to record the VH-1 Behind The Music special on RATT. I’ve had the opportunity to watch it a couple of times and I found it to be disappointing.
All VH-1 BTMs follow the same formula: rise to success, addiction/money problems, personnel changes, fall from grace, current situation. A career summed up in 60 minutes and the focus is always on the darker side of Rock stardom. I always find myself watching these documentaries, feeling good about the nostalgia, but coming away with disappointment. The story is never about the success, it’s always about the failure. It’s not about the platinum albums, it’s the studio clashes. The excesses of life on the road vs. the actual live gig. Name the dysfunctional problem and VH-1 exploits it rather than highlight a success story. It always seems like these producers put these bands out there, ridicule them, expose them, and basically make light of it all.
So the RATT story followed the same pattern and I came away disappointed. Whether you like RATT or not, this band had a lot of success between 1983-1990. In that time, they had 5 platinum (some multi-platinum) albums, worldwide tours, and were plastered all over radio and MTV. They made music, made money, and saw the world. What is most important, at least for me, is that they made music that meant something special to their fans.
VH-1 seems to forget this in favor of the fall. RATT did in fact fall, some would say that their downward spiral started with 1985’s Invasion Of Your Privacy, the follow-up to the multi-platinum smash, Out Of The Cellar. Rather than focus on the band as a whole, the documentary focused mainly on vocalist Stephen Pearcy’s personality clashes and the addiction/death of guitarist Robbin Crosby. While these two things were major factors in the RATT demise, there was more they could have focused on: keeping up with the competition, in-studio clashes with producer Beau Hill, the RATT pack on the road. They touched on these but too briefly. I understand that a six hour mini-series on RATT isn’t realistic but an extra half hour of other band moments aside from heroin and Jack Daniels is all I’m askling for.
All in all, if you want to review RATT’s heyday, this will do the trick. If you want to really get into RATT, listen to the albums and watch a live bootleg.