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Random Album Review: Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
When he was fired from Kiss in 1984, guitarist Vinnie Vincent quickly rebounded and formed a group of his own- the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. The band's self-titled debut, released in 1986, emits the scent of hair spray and hot rockin' licks. While it isn't a perfect album, Vincent is able to showcase his guitar playing wizardry. In my opinion, this is one of the most glam metal (or "hair" metal as it is often dubbed) albums I've ever seen or head. Look at the back cover: Vincent and the band had huge hair and the music lives up to that image.
Born Vincent Cusano, Vincent was hired to replace original guitarist Ace Frehley in 1982. Vincent also wore the the make-up of the Egyptian Warrior, the shortest lived of the six different Kiss personas, as the band decided to ditch the make-up the following year. Through his guitar playing and songwriting skills, Vincent was able to help Kiss transition to their non make-up era with 1983's Lick It Up. However, Vincent was a hard person to work with. According to Paul Stanley in his 2014 autobiography, Vincent's guitar solos during concerts would go on longer than they should've. After only two years, Vincent was fired. By 1986, Vincent had formed the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. The band consisted of one-time Journey singer Robert Fleishman, bassist Dana Strum and drummer Bobby Rock.
The album opens with the guitar-heavy "The Boyz Are Gonna Rock." Vincent's playing is fast and uses the shredding technique to its advantage throughout the song, as well as the album. Fleishman's vocals are wonderfully over the top as are the lyrics. The song is an anthem, a very tongue-in-cheek one too. At times, there seems to be too much going on musically in the songs. Vincent's use of the whammy bar is too much on songs such as "Baby-O" and "Do You Wanna Make Love." Throw in the shredding, echoey production and Fleishman's vocals, it can get a little too extreme. Despite this, there is still some great music on here. "Shoot U Full of Love" has a great hard driving guitar riff while the melodic vocals on "No Substitute" are sensational. Strong lyrics can be found in the mid-power ballad-esque "Back on the Streets." The song was written sometime in the 1970s, years before Vincent joined Kiss. The song went through a few demos- even Kiss is said to have rehearsed it at some point. It's a great song, with Vincent singing the first two verses, followed by a hearty vocal performance from Fleishman during the chorus.
Music video for "The Boys Are Gonna Rock"
Soon after the album was recorded, Fleishman was fired. The reason is disputed but one story says that he didn't visually fit with the rest of the band (again, just look at the back cover- he sticks out like a sore thumb). Fleishman was replaced by singer Mark Slaughter, just in time of the filming for the music video of "The Boyz Are Gonna Rock" (which means Slaughter is lip-syncing Fleishman's vocals). The band released another album, All Systems Go, in 1988. The album achieved so success as the single "Love Kills" was used in the fourth Nightmare on Elm Street film. The band split in 1989, although Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum would go on to form Slaughter's namesake band- who ended up becoming more successful than the Invasion band.
Vincent kept working going into the 1990s. In 1992, he helped co-wrote some of the songs on Kiss' Revenge album. However, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley gave up on Vincent as he went back to his old ways. Vincent later made appearances at Kiss Expos and conventions until 1997, when he suddenly became too frightened to make public appearances. Aside from a 2011 arrest for assaulting his now deceased wife, Vincent has stayed out of the spotlight and keeps to himself. Over the years, Vincent has filed lawsuits against Simmons and Stanley for unpaid song royalties, losing each time (in 2013, Simmons confirmed that Vincent had sued the band a whopping 13 times).
As for Vincent's work in and out of Kiss, it's still available for people to listen to. If anything, the 1986 Invasion album showcases an incredibly talented but troubled guitarist that had a lot of potential.