Sunday, April 21, 2013

Video Of The (Past) Week: Slaughter

When I was growing up, the ''Classic Rock'' category included all rock-and-roll made prior to that soul-less, God-less, taste-less and balls-less decade known as the 1980s, from The Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin, from Foreigner to Kansas, from Cream to Gentle Giant - it encompassed prog rock, psychedelic-based, blues-inspired, country-tinged, and was used from every merchant from Sam The Record Man to HMV to the ''music-by-mail'' Columbia House.

Now, among many blasphemies, it also includes shit from the 1980s and (here's the sign I'm getting old)... the 1990s. We already had classifications for those types of rock, chiefly ''hair metal'' for the ones prior to Guns N' Roses, and ''grunge'' for all things post Nirvana and Pearl Jam until, say, 1998 and the rap-metal craze...

 I was playing a music quiz with friends lately, and the category was ''classic rock'', and the answer was the video I'm featuring today, Slaughter's Fly To The Angels, the band's highest-charting song - and I was appalled. I got it right, but I had to spend 15 minutes explaining how Slaughter was in no way ''classic''.

On the glam rock scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is Trixter, 5 is Ratt, 10 is Motley Crue and 11 is Poison (all that make-up did make up for something), Slaughter would probably rate a 4 - both impact-wise, and popularity-wise. Far from being Bon Jovi (a definite 9), they barely rank higher than Nelson...

Formed from the ashes of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion (who had overextended their line of credit with their record label, Chrysalis!), Slaughter consisted pretty much of singer-guitarist Mark Slaughter, bassist Dana Strum and guitarist Tim Kelly with a revolving door of drummer that somehow always seems to revert back to Blas Elias despite his never appearing on the band's first album, and the band even now booking shows without his being present. Kelly died in a car crash in 1997 and has since been replaced by Jeff 'Blando' Bland.

Having turned 12 at the end of 1990 - with everything that implies - and being a member of the Columbia House record club (they'd give you 12 cassettes or CDs by mail for a penny - plus $10 shipping - in exchange of which you agreed to purchase 6 more at $20 apiece - yeah, I know - in the next two or three years), I gave Slaughter's first two releases a chance on the basis of their covers alone, both featuring the same model, Laurie Ann Carr, a December 1986 Playboy playmate and former wife (divorced in 1991) of a member of Ratt:

 Stick It To Ya:

Stick It Live:

I didn't mind the music so much, but I was a real big fan of the covers. Truth be told, throughout the years, I probably looked at them more often (and longer) than I listened to them, though it was probably close to even at first.

This song appears on both releases, of course:

Their follow-up full-length, The Wild Life, was released in 1992, and featured a harder, heavier sound - an evolution also made by contemporaries Skid Row. Whether it was a natural progression or dictated by the rise of grunge acts and their straightforward, no-nonsense (and definitely no make-up or hairspray) approach remains unanswered, but the Western market did not embrace them anymore. They were, however, huge in Japan, as were Mr. Big.

They now mostly perform on nostalgia tours and cruises. And Laurie Ann Carr is now a chiropractor.

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