By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
VINNIE VINCENT INVASION – VINNIE VINCENT INVASION (1986)
After years of being out of the public eye, ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent has emerged in recent months and given a number of interviews. One of the talking points in the interviews has been Vincent totally trashing the second and final album that was recorded by his Vinnie Vincent Invasion group. The All Systems Go album featured Mark Slaughter on vocals and Vincent has nothing good to say about the album or the singer.
While I once owned that album, I’ve never owned or even heard the self-titled debut release until I picked it out of the “Big Box of Cassettes” to write this article. But after hearing it, I can understand why Vincent goes out of his way to dump all over the second album.
On All Systems Go, there seemed to be much more of a focus on writing full and actual songs. Whereas on this album, it seemed the songs were given, if they were lucky, secondary importance to serving as a way for Vincent to musically masturbate with his guitar and get people to pay for it.
I know this likely means I won’t be receiving a Christmas card from Vincent anytime soon but the fact is that there really isn’t much in the way of a decent track on this entire album. There’s ten songs and none of them really stuck with me or even got much of a rise out of me at all.
While the attempt to give listeners a jolt to the heart by making pretty much every song a fast charging rock and roll romp might’ve been a good idea, I found that the uniform lack of quality songwriting trumped all. It was all about how fast and how long Vincent could play a guitar solo.
The band lineup featured ex-Journey singer Robert Fleischman, bassist Dana Strum and drummer Bobby Rock. Sadly, they are all thoroughly overshadowed by the endless (and pointless) soloing from Vincent. At times, Fleischman’s vocals were so low in the mix as to be swallowed up by the music.
The only song that showed any signs of slowing down was “Back On The Streets” which had a somewhat darker tone to it. It also ended up being a vocal duet with Fleischman and Vincent taking turns on vocals. And yet somehow, this version of the song still managed to not work.
A long time ago, when music magazines were pretty much the only way you got news and reviews about artists, I remember reading one particular magazine’s reviews section. I don’t remember which album was being written about but the review for it was simply “This Album Sucks!” While that might seem more than a bit unprofessional, I have to confess that I had the same feeling about the Vinnie Vincent Invasion album.
I know that there are a lot of fans of Vincent out there and my opinion is likely going to be in the extremely small minority, but there’s nothing here that makes me ever want to listen to this album again. I’ve heard some mind-numbingly bad albums while writing this series, this just might be one of the worst ones yet.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The video for “Boyz Are Gonna Rock” features Mark Slaughter lip-synching over the vocal track from Robert Fleischman, who had left the group before the video shoot over a contract dispute.
The song “Animal” was on the soundtrack for the comedy film Summer School that starred Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley. “Back On The Streets” was covered by John Norum on his Total Control solo album, which was featured in The Cassette Chronicles back in April of 2017.
Bobby Rock is currently the drummer for Lita Ford and I’ve seen him perform twice with her in the last few years.