REVIEW: Slaughter – Stick It To Ya (Definitive Remasters edition)


SLAUGHTER – Stick It To Ya (1990, 2003 Definitive Remasters edition)

“Just like a Led Zeppelin album stands up today, we hope our album stands up in 10 or 20 years.” — Mark Slaughter (1990)

I remember reading that quote in a magazine interview and thinking, “Well, I doubt THAT will happen.”

Maybe Mark was partly right though, as a handful nostalgists do still listen to Slaughter, in particular this debut and the followup The Wild Life. However, for Mark to compare this to Led Zeppelin I was simply short sighted and hopelessly optimistic. It never was going to be another Led Zeppelin I. This is a decent debut album, maybe even a pretty good one. Listening to it, there are certain things that are really grating today. Mark’s vocals are still hard to swallow as he really gets up there with these shrill squealy high notes. Dana’s bass is too happy and bouncy for my kind of rock. The guitar playing of Tim Kelly is nothing to write home about, rest his soul, just another typical early 90’s rock guitar player with very little identity of his own.

What made Slaughter work was the songwriting of Mark and Dana, and most of it still stands up. A lot of this material — straight up hard rock with a little flourish — is solid. Some songs are simply too pop for me today, such as “You Are The One” and “Spend My Life”. However, mercifully, there’s only one ballad! “Fly To The Angels” is nothing special as a ballad, but it has a little more atmosphere than the average and of course lyrically it had integrity. I don’t think it’s making anybody’s top ten ballads list, unless one has a personal connection to the lyrics, but it’s not too sappy and like I said, there’s only one!

Some songs, such as “Up All Night” and “Eye To Eye” have some balls and groove. If only the production was a little heavier, these would be bonafide classics. However, even on “Eye To Eye”, Dana’s happy bouncy bass lines brighten things up too much.   Not enough groove in the bass!  There’s also some 80’s style fast and speedy numbers such as “Loaded Gun” (with some just awful lyrics). Also awful in the lyrical department were “She Wants More” (which is a shameless AC/DC ripoff musically), and possibly “Burning Bridges”.

“Bridges”, it must be remembered, was a cutting attack on former bandmate Vinnie Vincent, from the Vinnie Vincent Invasion days. The original album even had a disclaimer on it so that the band wouldn’t get sued! “So you wanna play another solo, huh? Well not here, pal!” Disclaimer aside, it was pretty obvious who the song was actually about, and statements from Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons since then have only confirmed Vinnie’s character traits. Shame that the lyrics are no longer included with the album.  I guess that’s why the disclaimer is also missing! Instead, you get decent liner notes from Mark and Dana.  Inside they credit Kiss drummer Eric Carr for helping to get the band on the opening slot of the Hot in the Shade tour.  I didn’t know that before!

Personal highlights:
“Up All Night”, “Eye To Eye”, “Desperately”, “Thinking of June (instrumental)”.  These are all great tunes in my books, particularly the darkly cool single, “Up All Night”.

Onto the bonus material!  These two bonus tracks were included on the original CD too, but not the cassette or LP versions of Stick It To Ya.

14. Fly to the Angels [Acoustic Version]
15. Wingin’ It

These remain intact on this edition. The acoustic version of “Fly” mostly just ditches the electric guitars but is otherwise the same backing track. “Wingin’ It” (my favourite) is an accapella joke tune, only a minute in length, but absolutely hilarious to this day. I wish the album had been re-sequenced so that it still closes the album, as this is an obvious closer!

After that, there are four demos. These demos are remarkable in how fully realized they are. Unfortunately that doesn’t make them interesting listens. It is amazing that Mark and Dana had the demos down so perfectly from the get-go, but as a listener, it’s like hearing the same song twice. In the case of “Fly To The Angels”, three times on one album which is way too much. Perhaps some live B-sides should have been included instead, or the track “Shout It Out” from the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack. I am sure you can think of your own bonus material that you’d like to hear.

Remastering is fine and dandy, packaging is great apart from the deletion of the lyrics.  However you can read those just by Googling these days, and I think I’d rather have the liner notes from Mark and Dana.

3/5 stars, worth buying for fans of the era. Everybody else should steer clear.

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49 comments

  1. Back in the day 1990 to be exact this was a good record and i bought cuz there was lots of hype on these two guys from the VIn VIncent album and well I bought that said disc(All Systems Go) and what a pile of poo that was!
    So give benefit of the doubt they sold this to me on there interviews I read at the time and yeah it was good and the Wildlife I bought early as well and it wasn’t nearly as good ok I’m lying out side of the title track and is the other song called Out For Love ?? Those two were good and the others naaaa….man to compare yourself to Zeppelin=bonehead!
    Haven’t listened to this in yrs…..
    Maybe one day….

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    1. Am I the only one who liked All Systems Go? I thought it was a drastic improvement over the debut…better songs, less shredding. Sure it was softer but it had some great tunes like Love Kills and That Time of Year.

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      1. Just sounded sterile….found the singing to Squealy …the guitaring so so …..I mean c’mon Vin u played some serious riff age and had a big hand on Creatures and Lick It Up perhaps that’s what I was looking for….well the cover was cool!!

        Disclaimer- all above comments made by deKE are from 1988 and were scribbled on 3 ring lined paper after reading the July 88 issue of Hit Parader Magazine…

        Thank u and good night!

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        1. Thanx. I’ll give it a listen tomorrow. Sorry I haven’t been around your site for a few days, had shitloads of stuff to do.

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  2. Not heard this. I remember not being impressed by them at the time but, then again, I was pretty hard to please back then! I do have All Systems Go but I’ve never listened to it! I’d say that comparing yourself to Led Zeppelin probably isn’t a great idea…

    Never heard of this series/label.

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        1. It’s been a while for me, hope I don’t eat my words.

          I don’t remember it being GREAT but I do remember it being more song-oriented. I think in 1988 I would have loved it.

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  3. The worst professional band I ever saw live, supporting Cinderella I think. When the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd at the end, people threw them back at him!

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    1. They supported Cinderella here as well, so you’re probably right. So embarrassing about the drum sticks though. Blas Elias…that’s what you get when your name sounds like Blah.

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      1. I had tickets for the Cinderella / Slaughter show in Stockholm, but it was cancelled. Back then they said it was because of the whole Saddam Hussein thing and that the band was too scared to fly, but since then I have heard that they cancelled because of poor ticket sales. Bummer as Heartbreak Station and Stick It To Ya were among the albums that I listened to the most that year.

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        1. They cancelled shows here too Jon. They gave excuses but it was lack of ticket sales. The show I saw was actually a combined deal — they cancelled their show in London and gave those people tickets to the Kitchener show. They couldn’t sell out both.

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      1. I remember reading about that in MEAT Magazine at the time Mike….sad it was on Cinderellas best record and they could not sell tix

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        1. Agree. They lost all the pop and glam and went more Rolling Stones. Guess the glamsters and sleazers couldn’t handle that…

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        2. It was a sign of things to come. A lot of artists had trouble selling out that year. Look at the Kiss/Winger/Slaughter tour, they needed those bands to help sell tickets and they still didn’t sell out.

          And then 6 months after I saw Cinderella…I first heard Nirvana. Things changed quickly from that point.

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    1. I looked at this cover a lot when I was a kid!

      Slaughter never became one of those essential bands of the era. Just one from which to mine a couple good tracks for the mix CD.

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      1. Haha you’re not really selling them, Dude! Still, 3/5 stars is better than 3/5 sharts…

        I watched a bit of that Up All Night video and I really just sort of wanted to punch him to make him stop that thing he was doing…

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        1. HAHAHAH!

          Wait until I take a look at the Vinnie Vincent albums…when he was still wearing makeup and dying his hair blonde. You’re gonna wanna get your gloves on.

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  4. Yeah, Slaughter. Ok so one thing I remember is something Kip Winger did say a comparative comment about Queen saying he wanted or thought his band had the capacity for each member of the band to be able to write a hit song. I mean they were good enough musicians (especially the drummer) but I mean come on. You are Kip Winger. Much respect to Kp Winger!!

    Dana Strum wrote the old (maybe old I haven’t really listened to the show in years) theme to Rockline I’m BC and i’ll be seeing you). Sort of a nondescript jam sounding somewhere between AC/DC and Boston.

    Anyway, Slaughter. Nice cover. They could have been as big as Mr. Big.

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  5. God, I remember how much I loved this album when it came out. I listened to Vinnie Vincent Invasion’s All Systems Go so much that I wore my LP out and I was a HUGE fan of Mark Slaughter. Therefore it was a no-brainer to buy this album when it came out. Actually the day it came out. It’s a wonder that my CD is still intact because I listened to this all the time back when.
    And to this day, I think that this album is one of the best albums of that era. The only thing that doesn’t hold up, which you mentioned, is the production. It needs more fat. Meat. Balls. Blas Elias was a great drummer, but his drum sound made him sound weak. As you said, Tim Kelly was never a brilliant guitar player and I always wondered why they chose him.
    That said, this is the only truly great album Slaughter ever made.
    Cool review. I just have to take this album and play it in my car tomorrow. It was a while since that happened. I’d probably give this album an 8/10.
    Cheers,

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    1. You know what Jon, I think The Wild Life was really good. They got a little bit more experimental on some songs, and the ballads were even better. Days Gone By…man I love that tune. I’ll eventually buy the remastered version of The Wild Life, too.

      I think overall the difference between the two albums isn’t much, but I did love The Wild Life when it came out. Never heard anything they did after that.

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      1. I was disappointed by The Wild Life. It just sounded like they were trying to record Stick It To Ya all over again. There were some really good songs on it, but the album was uneven. The album after, Fear No Evil, had its moments too, but their fourth, Revolution, was really good, now when I think about it.

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        1. Yes. It’s a complete rip-off. But this song isn’t at all representive for the whole album. Fact is, it’s the sore thumb. I’d still advise you to check out the album if you get the chance.

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