In early January 1990 I caught a video on MTV, and that video was “Up All Night” by SLAUGHTER. Born from the ashes of the ill-fated VINNIE VINCENT INVASION, vocalist and guitarist Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum were signed to Chrysalis Records and set out to form a band that would kick ass, and be free of all the drama that came with their former group. Add guitarist Tim Kelly (R.I.P.) and drummer extraordinaire Blas Elias, and they were off and running. Speaking of which, I was running top speed to Uncle Phil’s to pick up their debut CD Stick It To Ya after hearing that song. Can you blame me? It’s awesome! As is the rest of the record. By the way, welcome to the latest episode of Classic Albums.
Let’s get one thing straight, okay? Back in the 80’s-90’s the quickest way to my heart was with a high-voiced singer, so this band was tailor-made for my tastes. As soon as I got home I obviously put the disc in my Fisher rack system and made a tape for the trusty Walkman. But I didn’t get to really listen till I was in bed later that night. Man, as soon as I heard the beginning of “Eye to Eye” I knew this was gonna be a fucking great album! Kelly’s sharp riffs combined with Slaughter’s biting vocals and Elias’ drum attack was all the convincing I needed. “Burning Bridges,” a shot across the bow at a certain someone only reaffirmed that, and I was all in. These tunes are what kept me warm during my King Kullen wagon round-ups that winter!
Next up is the aforementioned “Up All Night,” and there’s simply no way you can be a product of that glorious decade of MTV metal and NOT love this song. I’m sorry, but that is unassailable fact. As you can see, these guys were masters of the catchy chorus. Next song and fellow single “Spend My Life” only proves that point. You could really tell that Slaughter and Strum felt totally liberated and were having fun with the music. And that was not lost on 16-year old me as I strutted my way through Massapequa, wishing I could be even half as cool as they were. Meanwhile “She Wants More” is a cute little ditty about a girl who only cares about a man’s money and all the ways it can benefit her.
Every band from this era, at least the great ones, they truly excelled at one thing…the ballads. And holy hell “Fly to the Angels” is A-1 Steak Sauce in this category. We can all think of someone we lost and this song is applicable. In my case it was my Dad who passed three years prior. But the beauty of this tune is that it reminds us that they will be with us always, and as long as we keep them in our hearts they will live on forever. Let’s not forget the power that music has in that respect, okay? “Mad About You” and “That’s Not Enough” get the rock train rolling again, combining great rock riffs with hooks for days, while “You Are the One” is another sweet number. I always wondered why this wasn’t a single, but what do I know?
“Gave Me Your Heart” also made me feel like I could do anything as long as I had my girl by my side (oy, young love!), and boy was I wrong! I laugh now at the dumb teenager I was, and how I would plan my life around seeing my girlfriend when there was so much more to do. But hey, we were all blinded by what we thought was love in high school, weren’t we? You know you were, stop lying. The chorus to “Desperately” randomly popped in my head the other night, and serves as the inspiration for this piece. When I say these guys knew how to come up with great choruses that’s no exaggeration.
And for the coup de grace we get closer “Loaded Gun,” still a favorite of mine. When Mark Slaughter let fly that “Loooaded Gunnnun!!” I would rock out like a motherfucker in my room, then hit the REPEAT button. Man oh man, this was and is such a fun album to listen to from beginning to end. Sweet memories of blasting the tunes in my ears at work, and at home, of make-out sessions with my girlfriend at the time, and Saturday night hangs in my kitchen with the boys, that’s the good stuff. SLAUGHTER released one of the last great rock/metal albums before the scene would ultimately die out just two years later thanks to bullshit grunge. But no one can take away the greatness of our music, our time, these songs, and that’s why this will forever be a Classic Album. ~dc