The Good Rats

Blue Collar Rats: The Lost Archives 1975-1985

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With Rolling Stone magazine's quote "the world's most famous unknown band" sticking like glue, Long Island Music Hall of Fame members the Good Rats have, for 40-plus years, remained an overlooked, impossible, loveable mash of Twisted Sister, Blue Öyster Cult, and Uncle Floyd. The membership may have changed, but the bar band/hard rock attitude is a constant, and leader Peppi Marchello is bedrock, belting out good-timing rockers about girls, booze, and rock & roll with a voice that's always on the good side of hoarse. Plus, he performs with a baseball bat on-stage, more as an air guitar-replacing prop than anything threatening, so get ready to fall in love, or shrug. Blue Collar Rats is an odds-and-ends set made for the faithful Rat-loving fanatic, kicking off with a furious 2011 recording called "Boom Boom," where Peppi's bellowing of "Tiiiiiight Ass!/Lots of class!" is a golden Rat moment of party rock glory. Plenty more of this follows with songs like "Street Mutts" ("Surviving on our sheer guts"), "Young Girls Never Tell" ("The girls wanna roll, the boys wanna rock!), and "Tight Pants" ("Don't make loose chicks!") all sounding like they fell out of some self-aware and totally awesome '80s sex comedy, which isn't much of a stretch because tracks two through twenty are lost Rats recordings from the years 1975 to 1985. During these years, some of that early vaudevillian flash the Rats employed is gone in favor of hard rock and heavy metal (maybe the band didn't want to be "most famous unknown" forever) while future Kiss member and part-time Rat Bruce Kulick tears through some screaming riffs, although it is left up to the listener to guess which solos are his. As the liner notes mention, these tapes were rescued right from Peppi's closet and have suffered as far as documentation and sound quality, but endure some crackle and some wow or flutter and the Friday night feel comes through loud and clear. Start with the wonderful Tasty, devour a couple of their other studio albums, and then come back here once you've decided that the Rats' obscurity is proof the rock & roll Gods are entirely unfair.

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