While some sites continue to debate when the decade ends (“there wasn’t a year zero”) on this site, I need to debate when the 80’s ended. Hair metal and the decade of decadence go together like thin candy coated peanut butter treats and homesick aliens. Yet there is an album celebrating it’s thirtieth anniversary this month which hits all the checkmarks for 1980’s metal yet was released in the far more progressive year of 1990.
Slaughter’s “Stick It To Ya” came out in the first year of the nineties yet is quintessential eighties music. Love ballads for the ladies. Just enough attitude and hard guitars to please the guys. A stunning lead singer, in every sense of that word. Humor in the videos. Pretty girls. Lots of hair. Odd silliness and banter among the band. Everything in Slaughter’s big hit videos screams riding alongside Poison or Cinderella. Yet scream is the worst word to use when talking about this band.
That’s because lead singer Mark Slaughter, and I will argue this with any one of you, may just be the greatest singer for a hair metal band. A powerful voice that hits fans in the cheap seats without need for an amplifier. High notes that themselves also fly up to the angels. Plus, in 2020 we can all be mature about this, he’s a ridiculously pretty man. Full of hair and teeth and good bone structure. How this band didn’t become stars, or at least Mark himself, is beyond me. Well, not completely, because we all know just a year later a dirty, not as pretty, let’s describe them as grungy, group of musicians changed everything and all who used AquaNet were cast out to sea.
Which is a damn shame that Slaughter didn’t arrive earlier, actually in the 80’s, so maybe they could have had a longer run. Made a few more hits. Mark Slaughter was already established. If any one is to blame, we have to blame KISS.
Ace Frehley leaves KISS and Vinnie Vincent (the Ankh Warrior) is brought in as his replacement. Vincent did very well with KISS, is credited as a song writer on multiple tracks, and should be mentioned in higher regard. The problem laid with the business side of KISS. Vincent refused to sign a contract that did not make him an equal party and entitled to gross profits. Thus during his entire tenure with KISS he was technically a hired gun and when the time came, booted from the band.
With his time in KISS as clout Vincent started his own band, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, and eventually employed Mark Slaughter as his lead singer. Along with future Slaughter bassist Dana Strum. In 1988/1989 the record label grew tired of Vincent going over his credit limit, and pulled his contract. They then gave that money to Mark and Dana and thus Slaughter was born.
Mark had been with Vinnie Vincent Invasion since 1986 and maybe if that time was spent with his own band we would now be looking at Stick It To Ya not as the debut, but as second or third hit record from this legendary group. Instead, Slaughter was left behind in favor of new genres. Later albums never saw the same level of success but Mark still has his range. These albums are great long car ride listens. Just great rock like you grew up with and the open road and freedom you yearned for as a child in the 80’s (well, 1990 for this band).
In March of 1991, mere months before Nevermind, Slaughter appeared on MTV Unplugged. If I haven’t sold you on the band yet, this will do it. Listening to this rendition of “Fly to the Angels” is nothing but pure joy. A contemporary band of Slaughter’s put it best. “Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” These songs will have you wishing your hard earned money went to bands like this instead of that hot single you haven’t cared about in decades. We might be too old now to be up all night and sleep all day. Thanks to this incredible album though, we can pretend to turn back all of our pains and responsibilities back thirty years.